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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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 That so-called agapae, or love-feasts, must not be held at the Lord’s suppers, or at the churches, and that one is not to eat them inside of a house, or to lay a table with accubita (or couches). As for those who dare to do this, let them either cease or be excommunicated.



The present Canon is word for word the same as c. XXVIII of Laodicea, which prohibits Christian people from holding agapae, or so-called love-feasts (i.e., banquets held as a token of love, and designed to lead the banqueters to love and union), on the occasion of the Lord’s suppers, or, as we may say, in the churches. Nor must they provide soft and high couches thereat, which it callsaccubita,” using a Latin word derived from the verb accumbo, which means in Latin to lean or recline upon, and thus to sit at table; for Christians were wont to sit on these when eating.[211] As for any persons that might dare to do this, they must either cease or be excommunicated. We must first note that Balsamon opines that by “Lord’s suppers” the Canon means here any place dedicated to the Lord, including, that is to say, both the Narthex and the Pronaos, reserving the wordchurch” for the Temple itself. Hence the particle “or” is not to be taken as explanatory, as Zonaras asserts, but as disjunctive: so that, according to him, one must not eat, not only in churches, but not even in the Narthex of churches.



Likewise c. XLIX of Carthage prohibits bishops, clerics, and laymen from holding banquets except when some passing guests have to be entertained. Note that though the Canons forbid the holding of agapae, or love-feasts, they do not forbid their being held at common houses. Hence c. XXVII of the same Council of Laodicea commands that those in holy orders and laymen shall not take any portions of meals away with them as tidbits when they are invited to such love-feasts. Canon XI of Gangra anathematizes those who scorn those who hold such love-feasts (outside of the church, that is to say) and invite the brethren to assemble in honor of the Lord, and those who make light of the affair by refusing to attend them. Canon LXXVI of the present 6th excommunicates those who sell wine and food stuffs or other merchandise within the sacred precincts. But, besides this, c. XCVII of the same deposes clerics and excommunicates laymen who bring any domestic animal into a sacred temple, except as a result of some great necessity. See also the Footnote to c. LXXXIII of this same 6th.



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