SELECTIONS FROM EARLY CHRISTIAN WRITERS: ILLUSTRATIVE OF CHURCH HISTORY TO THE TIME OF CONSTANTINE by Henry Melvill Gwatkin, M.A. First Edition, Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1893. Reprinted with additions and corrections, 1897, 1902, 1905. Prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram, 2013.
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XXXVIII a. TERTULLIAN, De Corona Mil. 3, 4.


Non-sriptural Customs


Denique ut a baptismate ingrediar, aquam adituri, ibidem, sed et aliquanto prius in ecclesia sub antistitis manu contestamur, nos renuntiare diabolo et pompae et angelis eius. Dehinc ter mergitamur amplius aliquid respondentes quam dominus in evangelio determinavit. Inde suscepti, lactis et mellis concordiam praegustamus exque ea die lavacro quotidiano per totam hebdomadem abstinemus. Eucharistiae sacramentum, et in tempore victus et omnibus mandatum a domino, etiam antelucanis coetibus, nec de aliorum manu quam praesidentium sumimus. Oblationes pro defunctis, pro natalitiis, annua die facimus. Die dominico ieiunium nefas ducimus vel geniculis adorare. Eadem immunitate a die Paschae in Pentecosten usque gaudemus. Calicis aut panis etiam nostri aliquid decuti in terram anxie patimur.

Ad omnem progressum atque promotum, ad omnem aditum et exitum, ad vestitum et calceatum, ad lavacra, ad mensas, ad lumina, ad cubilia, ad sedilia, quaecunque nos conversatio exercet, frontem crucis signaculo terimus.

Harum et aliarum ejusmodi disciplinarum si legem expostules scripturarum, nullam invenies; traditio tibi praetendetur auctrix, consuetudo confirmatrix, et fides observatrix.

[For customs not prescribed in Scripture, but sanctioned by usage,] I will begin with baptism. Before we enter the water we make our protest, both on the spot and a little before in the church and under the bishop's hand, that we renounce the devil, his pomp and his angels. Thereupon we are thrice immersed, making a somewhat longer answer than the Lord prescribed in the Gospel. Thence we are received (by sponsors), and taste first of all a mixture of milk and honey; and from that day we abstain from our daily bath for a whole week. The sacrament also of Thanksgiving, which the Lord delivered at a meal time and to all of us, we receive in meetings before daybreak, but from the hand of none but our presidents. On the proper day of the year we make our offerings for the dead and for the 'birthdays' (of martyrs). On the Lord's day we count it unlawful to fast or to worship on our knees; and in the same privilege we rejoice from Easter Day till Pentecost. Of this cup, yes, and of this bread of ours, we are careful that none be cast on the ground. At every step and advance, in all our going out and coming in, when we dress and put on our shoes, at the bath and at the table, when we light our lamps, or go to bed, or take a seat, in every action of our lives, we sign our forehead with the cross. For these and the like observances, if you ask for the Scripture rule, there is none for you to read. You will be told, Tradition has originated, Custom has sanctioned, Loyalty observes them.

R.


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