Saturday, February 24


Church Fathers against Unauthorized Celebrations of the Liturgy*

St. Ignatius, born in AD 35 and marytyred between AD 98-115, wrote a series of letters before his execution. At the time, priests following bishops from other cities were trying to counter-evangelize Christians in Asia Minor. Ignatius wrote to these Christians very explicitly: you must only attend liturgies authorized by your local bishop.

To the Ephesians

(para. 4) You should act in accord with the bishop's mind, as you surely do... Yes, one and all, you should form yourselves into a choir, so that, in perfect harmony and taking your pitch from God, you may sing in unison and whith one voice to the Father through Jesus Christ... you need to abide in irreproachable unity if you really want to be God's members forever.

(para. 20) I will [teach you] if the Lord shows me that you are all, every one of you, meeting together under the influence of the grace that we owe to the Name, in the one faith and in union with Christ... At these meetings, you should heed the bishop and the presbytery attentively, and break one loagh, which is the medivine of immortality and the antidote which wards off death but yeilds continuous life in union with Jesus Christ.

To the Magnesians

(para. 6) Do not let there be anything to divide you, but be in accord with your bishops and your leaders.

(para.6-7) You must no do anything without the bishop and presbyters. Do not, moreover, try to convince yourselves that anything done on your own is commendable. Only what you do in union is right.

(para. 2) You ought to respect [your bishop] as fully as you respect the authority of God the Father... For the honor, then, of Him Who loved us, we ought to obey without any dissembling... It is the same thing as calling a man a bishop and then doing everything in disregard of him: such people seem to me to be acting against their conscience, since they do not come to the valid and authorized services.

If you accept the leadership of the Catholic Church and accept the local bishop, do not attend public services** which he does not authorize. This is the recieved Tradition of the Church Fathers, to which we must all answer.

*The title has been updated since this post was originally made: it first read "Against Unauthorized Liturgies," but the current title reflects more clearly what I meant to get across.
**Private masses, which did not arise until centuries later, are a different matter according to canon law.

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