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The Apostolic Constitutions, Book VIII

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The Apostolic Constitutions, Book VIII

Translation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VII. For a complete electronic copy, visit the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, the New Advent Library. Italics in the text by John Wijngaards.

Book VIII Section III.-Ordination and Duties of the Clergy.

Concerning the Ordination of Presbyters-The Constitution of John, Who Was Beloved by the Lord.

VIII, no 16. Concerning the ordination of presbyters, I who am loved by the Lord make this constitution for you the bishops: When thou ordainest a presbyter, O bishop, lay thy hand upon his head, in the presence of the presbyters and deacons, and pray, saying: O Lord Almighty, our God, who hast created all things by Christ, and dost in like manner take care of the whole world by Him; for He who had power to make different creatures, has also power to take care of them, according to their different natures; on which account, O God, Thou takest care of immortal beings by bare preservation, but of those that are mortal by succession-of the soul by the provision of laws, of the body by the supply of its wants. Do Thou therefore now also look down upon Thy holy Church, and increase the same, and multiply those that preside in it, and grant them power, that they may labour both in word and work for the edification of Thy people. Do Thou now also look down upon this Thy servant, who is put into the presbytery by the vote and determination of the whole clergy; and do Thou replenish him with the Spirit of grace and counsel, to assist and govern Thy people with a pure heart, in the same manner as Thou didst look down upon Thy chosen people, and didst command Moses to choose elders, whom Thou didst fill with Thy Spirit. Do Thou also now, O Lord, grant this, and preserve in us the Spirit of Thy grace, that this person, being filled with the gifts of healing and the word of teaching, may in meekness instruct Thy people, and sincerely serve Thee with a pure mind and a willing soul, and may fully discharge the holy ministrations for Thy people, through Thy Christ, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee, and to the Holy Ghost, for ever. Amen.

Concerning the Ordination of Deacons-The Constitution of Philip.

VIII, no 17. Concerning the ordination of deacons, I Philip make this constitution: Thou shalt ordain a deacon, O bishop, by laying thy hands upon him in the presence of the whole presbytery, and of the deacons, and shall pray, and say:-

The Form of Prayer for the Ordination of a Deacon.

VIII, no 18. O God Almighty, the true and faithful God, who art rich unto all that call upon Thee in truth, who art fearful in counsels, and wise in understanding, who art powerful and great, hear our prayer, O Lord, and let Thine ears receive our supplication, and "cause the light of Thy countenance to shine upon this Thy servant," who is to be ordained for Thee to the office of a deacon; and replenish him with Thy Holy Spirit, and with power, as Thou didst replenish Stephen, who was Thy martyr, and follower of the sufferings of Thy Christ. Do Thou render him worthy to discharge acceptably the ministration of a deacon, steadily, unblameably, and without reproof, that thereby he may attain an higher degree, through the mediation of Thy only begotten Son, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.

Concerning the Deaconess-The Constitution of Bartholomew.

VIII, no 19. Concerning a deaconess, I [the Apostle] Bartholomew make this constitution: O bishop, thou shalt lay thy hands upon her in the presence of the presbytery, and of the deacons and deaconesses, and shall say:-

The Form of Prayer for the Ordination of a Deaconess.

VIII, no 20. O Eternal God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of man and of woman, who didst replenish with the Spirit Miriam, and Deborah, and Anna, and Huldah; who didst not disdain that Thy only begotten Son should be born of a woman; who also in the tabernacle of the testimony, and in the temple, didst ordain women to be keepers of Thy holy gates,-do Thou now also look down upon this Thy servant, who is to be ordained to the office of a deaconess, and grant her Thy Holy Spirit, and "cleanse her from all filthiness of flesh and spirit," that she may worthily discharge the work which is committed to her to Thy glory, and the praise of Thy Christ, with whom glory and adoration be to Thee and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.

Concerning the Sub-Deacons-The Constitution of Thomas.

VIII, no 21. Concerning the sub-deacons, I Thomas make this constitution for you the bishops: When thou dost ordain a sub-deacon, O bishop, thou shalt lay thy hands upon him, and say: O Lord God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things that are therein; who also in the tabernacle of the testimony didst appoint overseers and keepers of Thy holy vessels; do Thou now look down upon this Thy servant, appointed a sub-deacon; and grant him the Holy Spirit, that he may worthily handle the vessels of Thy ministry, and do Thy will always, through Thy Christ, with whom glory, honour, and worship be to Thee and to the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.

The dignities and duties of the orders

VIII, no 28. Concerning the canons I the same make a constitution. A bishop blesses, but does not receive the blessing. He lays on hands, ordains, offers, receives the blessing from bishops, but by no means from presbyters. A bishop deprives any clergyman who deserves deprivation, excepting a bishop; for of himself he has not power to do that. A presbyter blesses, but does not receive the blessing; yet does he receive the blessing from the bishop or a fellow-presbyter. In like manner does he give it to a fellow-presbyter. He lays on hands, but does not ordain; he does not deprive, yet does he separate those that are under him, if they be liable to such a punishment. A deacon does not bless, does not give the blessing, but receives it from the bishop and presbyter: he does not baptize, he does not offer; but when a bishop or presbyter has offered, he distributes to the people, not as a priest, but as one that ministers to the priests. But it is not lawful for any one of the other clergy to do the work of a deacon. A deaconess does not bless, nor perform anything belonging to the office of presbyters or deacons, but only is to keep the doors, and to minister to the presbyters in the baptizing of women, on account of decency. A deacon separates a sub-deacon, a reader, a singer, and a deaconess, if there be any occasion, in the absence of a presbyter. It is not lawful for a sub-deacon to separate either one of the clergy or laity; nor for a reader, nor for a singer, nor for a deaconess, for they are the ministers to the deacons.

The order of distributing eulogies

VIII, no 31. I the same make a constitution in regard to remainders. Those eulogies which remain at the mysteries, let the deacons distribute them among the clergy, according to the mind of the bishop or the presbyters: to a bishop; four parts; to a presbyter, three parts; to a deacon, two parts; and to the rest of the sub-deacons, or readers, or singers, or deaconesses, one part. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, that every one be honoured according to his dignity; for the Church is the school, not of confusion, but of good order.



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