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4 th – 6 th C CE Christian Initiation: North Africa.

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Presentation on theme: "4 th – 6 th C CE Christian Initiation: North Africa."— Presentation transcript:

1 4 th – 6 th C CE Christian Initiation: North Africa

2 Third Council of Carthage Canon 5. It was agreed that no sacrament should be given to catechumens, even during the most solemn Paschal season, except the usual salt: for if the faithful make no change in the sacrament during that season, it should not be changed for catechumens.

3 Canon 24: It was agreed that nothing more should be offered in the sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord than the Lord himself delivered, that is, bread and wine mixed with water. The first fruits, milk and honey, which at the mysteries on the one solemn day are accustomed to be offered for infants, although they are offered at the altar, have their own benediction, that they may be distinguished from the sacraments of the Body and Blood of the Lord.

4 Optatus of Milevis: Against Parmenian the Donatist [c ] From Book Five: “…It is clear that in the celebration of this sacrament of baptism there are three elements, which you will not be able either to decrease or diminish, or to put on one side. The first is in the Trinity, the second in the believer, the third in him who gives the sacrament. For I perceive that two are necessary, and that one is quasi-necessary.

5 The Trinity holds the chief place, without whom the work itself cannot be done. The faith of the believer follows next. Then comes the office of the minister, which cannot be of equal authority. The first two remain always unchangeable and unmoved. For the Trinity is always itself and the faith is the same in everyone. Both [the Trinity and faith] always preserve their own efficacy. Therefore the office of the minister cannot be equal to the other two elements [in the sacrament of baptism], because it alone is liable to change….

6 Augustine of Hippo: On Faith and Works [413 CE] VI.8: “Let us see whether it is right to admit all men to baptism, whether or not we should be on our guard lest we give to dogs that which is holy, and whether we should even go so far as to admit to so sacred a sacrament those who openly practice adultery and who profess that they will continue to do so. Certainly, these people would not be admitted to baptism if, during the few days preceding its reception, they declared that they would not keep themselves continent but would continue to have relations with their true and lawful wives.

7 For these few days before baptism are a sacred time, a time when the candidate, after having handed in his name, is prepared for baptism by fasting, abstinence, and exorcisms. During this time, therefore, he is not permitted relations with his wife, even though at other times he is allowed intercourse with her. If a married man, then, is refused admittance to baptism for refusing to observe a custom, how can we say that an adulterer who refuses to change his evil life should be allowed to receive this sacrament?”

8 VI.9: “They say, however, that a man should be baptized first and then, after baptism, he can be instructed in regard to morals and right living. This is fittingly done when a man is at the point of death. Then, after he has been taught in the fewest possible words all that he must believe, he may receive the sacrament immediately, so that, if he should die, he may leave this life absolved from all his sins. But if a man is good health asks to be admitted to baptism, and he has the time to go for instructions, then what better time is there to teach him how to live a good, Christian life than when he is all anxious and eager to receive this most salutary sacrament. …

9 For at one time we ourselves had sought admission to baptism and for that reason we also were once called “competentes”. Then, too, there are new converts every year. Do we not see how zealous they are in attending the instructions, the exorcisms, the scrutinies, and also how eager, how interested? If this is not the time to teach them morals that are worthy of a Christian and of this great sacrament which they are so desirous of receiving, then when is it? After baptism? This is what our opponents would like. In that case they would allow them to receive baptism without first demanding that they change their evil way of life, without demanding that they first put off the old man and then put on the new. Instead they would advise us just the opposite: first put on the new man, and after you have put on the new man, then put off the old.

10 . But this is not what the Apostle says. He says: “Put off the old man and put on the new.” And the Lord says: “No man sews a new piece to an old garment and no man puts new wine into old wineskins.” Moreover, for what other reason do we call them catechumens and put them into this category for a certain time, except that they might learn what the faith is and what kind of life is demanded of a Christian? Then, after they have proved themselves worthy, they may eat at the Lord’s table and drink from His cup. For “He who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself.” If the Church thinks that is it good and necessary to give instructions to the catechumens, then certainly it is good and much more necessary and much more urgent to give instructions to the competentes who are immediately preparing to receive baptism.

11 VII.11: “[I]t is often necessary in our instruction to treat of faith and morals together, and not only necessary but also very practical and wise. This is true whether we are instructing catechumens, or the faithful, or those who are to be baptized or those already baptized; and it holds for any purpose that we might have in instructing them, whether to refreshen their memories, or to have them profess their faith, or to strengthen them in the faith.

12 IX.14: “They say, however, that the eunuch whom St. Philip baptized did not say anything more than “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” and having made this profession of faith, he was immediately baptized. Is it, then, their wish that men should make no more profession of faith than this, and then be immediately baptized? What about the other truths of the faith, those, namely, concerning the Holy Spirit, the Church, the forgiveness of sins the resurrection of the dead, and, finally, those concerning the Lord Jesus Himself? Is nothing to be said or believed concerning these? Is nothing to be said or believed about the Lord except that He is the Son of God? Nothing about His incarnate birth from a virgin, His passion, His death on the cross, His burial, His resurrection on the third day, His ascension, and His place at the right hand of the Father?

13 If all that the eunuch had to say was “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” in order that he be baptized immediately and allowed to go on his way, why then do we not follow suit?”

14 XI.17: “But our opponents have still another objection. The people of Israel, they say, were first led through the Red Sea, which is a figure of baptism, and then they were given the law by which they were to live. Since this was the case with the Israelites, why then do we demand that our catechumens learn the creed and recite it back to us?…”

15 “Our opponents say, and they are right, that their preparation for baptism, that is, before passing through the Red Sea, were the religious ceremonies of sprinkling their doorposts with the blood of the lamb and of eating the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. But if they understand correctly the significance of these religious ceremonies of the Israelites, why do they not also understand that their departure from Egypt signifies a renouncement of sin, which renouncement they make who are preparing to receive baptism?

16 XII.18. Let us suppose that a man comes and asks to be baptized, but says that he will not give up sacrificing to idols unless, perhaps, at some future time, if he so wills. This man is not only a worshiper of idols but also a priest of some abominable cult. Nevertheless, he asks to be baptized immediately and to become a temple of the living God. I ask our opponents is they think that such a person should be admitted even as a catechumen.

17 Who: [bishop] / [accedentes] / catechumens / competentes / neophytes / faithful Did (or refrained from doing) what: 1) Clinical (deathbed) initiation: –Person at the point of death is instructed what he must believe [VI.9] –“Baptism” follows immediately [VI.9] –Profession of creedal faith by the candidate, even if not memorized, as part of “Baptism”? [IX.14]

18 2) Canonical (public) initiation: –Inquirers examined and admitted to instruction as catechumens [XII.18] –Catechumens “learn what the faith is and what kind of life is demanded of a Christian” [VI.9; VII.11] –Catechumens receive “instructions” (on both faith – the “rule of faith” -- and morals [VII.11]), “exorcisms”, “scrutinies” [VI.9] –Catechumens “hand in their names” as those about to be baptized [VI.8] –Catechumens’ social status changes to that of “competentes” [VI.9]

19 –Competentes “a few days before baptism” [= Quadragesima?] receive instructions, fast, abstain (from eating meat? drinking alcohol?), are exorcized, and have no sexual relations [VI.8, 9] –Baptism: stripping off clothing? [VIII.12] renunciation of sin? [XI.17] profession of faith by means of a creed? [IX.14; XI.17] clothing in new garments? [VIII.12] –Newly baptized admitted to the Lord’s table [VI.9]

20 When: no particular feast/season indicated Where: no spaces indicated What it meant: –“You become a temple of God when you receive baptism” [XI.18] –“You become a member of Christ when you receive baptism” [XI.18]

21 Quovultdeus of Carthage: Sermons on the Creed

22 Ferrandus of Carthage: Letter to Fulgentius of Ruspe [ ]


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