Thursday, June 9, 2011

Laodicea - 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 communicate.

This canon addressed what was to happen after the overseer finished his teaching and before the Lord's Supper.  Certain of the group were to depart, since they were not considered to be in full fellowship.  First after a prayer were catechumens, those who were being instructed in the faith but not yet baptized, followed another prayer and the penitent among them.  At this point there would only be the faithful remaining.

Three times of prayer were occurred followed by the kiss of peace to be given one to another.  Today, those who wish to practice a "passing of the peace" do so by a handshake and exchanging a formal greeting—this gesture having the same effect as a kiss in the ancient time and region.  Those wishing to be even less formal simply ask those in the pew to shake hands with someone close by.  The more formal churches tend to make fellowship artificial while the latter cheapens it.  Neither demonstrates κοινωνία in its biblical sense.

Lastly, the overseer (and only he) would approach the bread and wine to complete the Lord's Supper with the congregants.

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