The topic of Ecumenism is too big to tackle, and isn’t really the point of this entry. Today’s post is intended to present the Canons and instructions from the fathers of both the ‘Chalcedonian’ and ‘non-Chalcedonian’ Churches pertaining to the proper procedure on how a Church community ought to receive a parishioner coming from a sister Apostolic Church (ie. Catholic, Byzantine Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox). This is an important topic since many people in our times are beginning to participate and even join other apostolic churches other than the ones they were first baptize and brought up in. This small percentage of people who leave one jurisdiction for another are providing us with a sample test to see how truly ecumenically minded we are, versus how much we might say we are. So how ought they be recieved…?
Chrismation of Chalcedonians was not tolerated by St Timothy Aelurus, or St Philoxenus, or St Severus. In fact, Severus railed against what he called “the heresy of the self-appointed reanointers,” i.e., those of his fellow Non-Chalcedonians who advocated rechrismation of Chalcedonians.
As to those who have been converted from the error of Theodotus, we say this much, that, if there are some who received ordination from Theodotus himself, since he was a bishop legally appointed, but was afterwards perverted to the abominable tenet of a selfcreated observance, I mean that of the illegal re-anointing, and to a change as to the faith, so that he does not confess that our Lord and God Jesus Christ, who is of one essence with the Father in the Godhead, himself became also of one essence with us without variation, and took our likeness, except sin only, let these be subject to the periods of penance which Timothy of saintly memory, archbishop of Alexandria, laid down with regard to those who are converted from the heresy of the Diphysites.
Elsewhere, he refers to the condemnation of one who did chrismate those coming from the Chalcedonians.
For you teach those who stand to keep the orthodox faith, and to practise a devout and just life: while to those who have been led away to error you teach the way of repentance by giving them forgiveness canonical and legal…Whence also a certain Theodotus, one of the bishops of Palestine, because he presumed to anoint certain persons, was repudiated and expelled, both by Timothy archbishop of the city of the Alexandrines and by all who shared his opinions.
St Severus, regarding re-ordination:
About those who have erred and fallen away to heretical communion, and have repented and wish to come back to the truth by the path of legal penitence…Whereas some, as I learn, of those who are said to have been re-ordained, a thing horrible even to hear.
- Must fast through Great Lent
- He should pray the prayers from the Book of Hours
- He must confess the creed of Nicaea without addition or omission
- Then he should confess faith in the unity of Christ
- Then he may participate with the faithful in prayer and in the liturgy.
Rubrics in the document show that there is an absolution, taken from the Third Hour, and that while the priest prays it he holds the Gospel, the vase of Myron and his hand cross on the head of the one seeking to be received. It is clearly noted that the seal of the vase of the Myron remains sealed while the priest makes the sign of the cross three times with it.
This is consistent with the most ancient practice and does not require any anointing at all.
Catholic and Byzantine Orthodox:
On the Chalcedonian side too, we can see an analogous development in canon 95 of the Synod in Trullo, a synod which for the Chalcedonian Orthodox possesses ecumenical authority: Those coming over from among the Non-Chalcedonians are to be received simply by profession of faith, not by anointing with chrism or, a fortiori, by rebaptism
As for heretics who are joining Orthodoxy and the portion of the saved, we accept them in accordance with the subjoined sequence and custom. Arians and Macedonians and Novatians, who called themselves Cathari and Aristeri, and the Tessarakaidekatitae, or, at any rate, those called Tetradites and Apolinarists, we accept, when they give us certificates (called libelli); and when they anathematize every heresy that does not believe as the holy catholic and Apostolic Church of God believes, and are sealed, i.e., are anointed first with holy myron on the forehead and the eyes, and the nose and mouth, and the ears, while we are anointing them and sealing them we say, “A seal of a gift of Holy Spirit.”
As concerning Paulianists who have afterwards taken refuge in the Catholic Church, a definition has been promulgated that they have to be rebaptized without fail. As for Eunomians, however, who baptize with a single immersion, and Montanists who are hereabouts called Phrygians and Sabellians; who hold the tenet of Hyiopatoria (or modalistic monarchianism) and do other embarrassing things; and all other heresies—for there are many hereabouts, especially those hailing from the country of the Galatians—as for all of them who wish to join Orthodoxy, we accept them as Greeks. Accordingly, on the first day, we make them Christians; on the second day, catechumens; after this, on the third day we exorcise them by breathing three times into their faces and into their ears. And thus we catechize them, and make them stay for a long time in church and listen to the Scriptures, and then we baptize them.
As for Manicheans, and Valentinians, and Marcionists, and those from similar heresies, they have to give us certificates (called libelli) and anathematize their heresy, the Nestorians, and Nestorius, and Eutyches and Dioscorus, and Severus, and the other exarchs of such heresies, and those who entertain their beliefs, and all the aforementioned heresies, and thus they are allowed to partake of Holy Communion.