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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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 Those who have put on Christ through baptism have solemnly promised to emulate and imitate the manner of life He led in the flesh. As touching, therefore, those who arrange and dress the hair of their head by contriving to plait or wave it in a fashion which has disastrous effects on beholders, and hence offers a lure to unbolstered souls, we undertake to treat them in a fatherly fashion with a suitable penance, while training them like children and teaching them how to live in a sober and sane manner, with the object of enabling them to lay aside the deception and vanity resulting from materiality in order that they may bend their minds towards a life which is perpetually unruffled and blissful, and to enjoy chaste association in fear, and to approach God as near as possible through their purity of life, and to adorn the inner rather than the outer man with virtues and benignant and blameless manners, so that they may not have any trace left in them of the rudeness of the adversary. If, however, anyone should conduct himself in a manner contrary to the present Canon, let him be excommunicated.



“As many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27), says the great Apostle Paul. Hence the present Canon adds that those who have put on Christ must also adopt his mode of life and practice every chastity and purity, and not adorn their body in a manner that is both superfluous and artificial. On this account it excommunicates those Christians who braid the hair of their head, and comb it and wave it and flaunt it as a lure to those souls who are of weak faith and easily led astray, as much of men as of women,[248] and while training such persons with the penalty of excommunication it teaches them to abandon every deception and vanity and embellishment of matter, and of this perishable body, and, on the other hand, to lift their mind up to that blissful and imperishable life, approaching God as near as possible with their purity of life, and preferring to adorn themselves, that is to say, the inner man, or soul, with virtues and benignant manners, without paying attention to the outer man, or body, with such deceptive and vain adornments or embellishments, in such a way as to avoid bearing any longer any sign of the wickedness of the Devil, whom they have renounced through holy baptism.



It is on this account that God commands in Leviticus (19:27) that no shall form a topknot from the hair of his head — or, in other words, a lock of hair, according to an unknown commentator. Hence it is that all the Apostles in common in their Injunctions, Book I, ch. 3, command men not to exercise undue care in combing their hair or to perfume their hair, or to braid it into one or more pleats, in order to prevent them from thereby attracting women into love, but to cut their hair off. But in particular St. Paul, with special regard to this artificial hairdressing and the idea of prohibiting it, said that if a man has hair it is a mark of dishonor in him; and in the same vein divine Epiphanius, too, said that long hair is a thing that is alien to the Catholic Church. Note, however, that just as one is forbidden to refrain from cutting his hair for the sake of beautification and good looks, and a bad purpose, so, on the other hand, it is also forbidden to cut it and to shave it with certain circularities roundabout, and, generally speaking, for the purpose of improving its appearance and enhancing its attractiveness. On this account, indeed, it was that as regards the topknot mentioned in Leviticus, Symmachus said: “You shall not shave round in a circle the face of your head.” Aquila, on the other hand, says: “You shall not encircle the crown of your head.” So the conclusion from all these facts is that the laity ought to cut their hair unaffectedly, unpretentiously, and inartificially.



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