Canons of Laodicea…probably not the most interesting of topics except for a few (very few) but which I read through for a particular thing I am doing at the moment. But, ah, such interesting particulars lie in the pontification of these clergy. Listen to a few….with some, admittedly, irreverent (at times) comments attached.
Canon 15: No others shall sing in the Church, save only the canonical singers, who go up into the ambo and sing from a book.
No congregational singing. And no singing except from a book (we want to make sure we sing the right stuff with sanctioned theology, I suppose). An “ambo” is an elevated desk, pulpit or area from which one reads/sings, in case you were wondering.
Canon 17: The Psalms are not to be joined together in the congregations, but a lesson shall intervene after every psalm.
I do like the fact that every Psalm should be explained rather than run together.
Canon 19: After the sermons of the Bishops, the prayer for the catechumens is to be made first by itself; and after the catechumens have gone out, the prayer for those who are under penance; and, after these have passed under the hand [of the Bishop] and departed, there should then be offered the three prayers of the faithful, the first to be said entirely in silence, the second and third aloud, and then the [kiss of] peace is to be given. And, after the presbyters have given the [kiss of] peace to the Bishop, then the laity are to give it [to one another], and so the Holy Oblation is to be completed. And it is lawful to the priesthood alone to go to the Altar and [there] communicate.
I’m glad I got that straight now. The pecking order is real clear to me. “Communicate” is to communion (the Eucharist).
Canon 25: A subdeacon must not give the Bread, nor bless the Cup.
A subdeacon may carry the wine to the altar, prepare the necessities for the Eucharist and read from the Epistles…but he cannot share the bread of God with the people of God, nor pray over the cup. By the way, subdeacons serve under deacons. Since there can only be a limited number of deacons, anyone else who wants to come close is a “subdeacon.”
Canon 28: It is not permitted to hold love feasts, as they are called, in the Lord’s Houses, or Churches, nor to eat and to spread couches in the house of God.
If you have read this blog much, you know how this really bothers me. No more tables (e.g., spreading couches for festive reclining at tables) in the church. But then again we have tables we don’t sit at or even stand around.
Canon 29: Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.
Sunday means rest, Sabbath means work. And if you rest on Saturday, if you are a judaizer, well, you are going to hell.
Canon 44: Women may not go to the altar.
Well, of course. Since there are no tables either, then it seems they can’t go anywhere but stand in the audience.
Canon 52: Marriages and birthday feasts are not to be celebrated in Lent.
There are lots of rule for Lent; this is only one. Too bad if you were born in March…no birthday parties for you….ever.
Canon 55: Neither members of the priesthood nor of the clergy, nor yet laymen, may club together for drinking entertainments.
This is my favorite, however. No clubbing allowed! I think we need a “Lipscomb University” canon–“neither members of the administration nor of the faculty nor yet students may club together for drinking entertainments.” Actually, “club” here means to share the expenses.
Do you think these clergy had some control issues? Well, enough said. Just doing a little “tongue-in-cheek” history but one with some pretty serious theolgoical issues lying underneath.