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#391528 02/25/13 05:58 PM
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Canon 68 of the Quinisext Council: "As regards the fact that it is not permissible for anyone to destroy, or to cut up, or to turn over to book stores or to so-called druggists, or anyone else whatsoever for destruction any of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, or of our holy and eminent Preachers and Teachers, unless it be completely useless because of having been damaged by bookworms or water or in some other way. Anyone caught doing such a thing from now on, let him be excommunicated for a year. Likewise anyone buying such books, unless he keeps them for his own use and benefit, nor should he give them away to others to keep, but who attempts to destroy them, let him be excommunicated."

This is a very interesting canon indeed. I have wondered about this many times. I have some questions based upon the above canon.

In the Jail Chaplaincy where I work, we give Bibles away to Inmates. Often they come back to us so heavily used (and abused) that we really cannot give them to other Inmates. Often these Bibles wind up being thrown away, which has always disturbed me. But if we cannot even burn them or bury them, I think there are too many to just keep for ever.

In my parish, we generate a lot of 'sacred paper' with Scripture passages and liturgical texts printed on them. Because of the many concurrent liturgical cycles, I would be impractical to keep them for the time all the cycles might line up again. I'm afraid that up until now, we have simply recycled these papers. Is burning them appropriate? I wonder if shredding the 'sacred papers' is a modern equivalent of burning?

There is also a great deal of icon reproduction going on in periodicals, calendars, catalogues, writing paper (what some term 'stationary'), business cards, etc. I have come to distinguish between line drawn icons and colored icons. The line drawn icons, i have treated as the 'sacred papers' above. But colored icon reproductions that cannot be passed on to someone who will use them (e.g. the Missions or Inmates) for one reason or another, I have always burned with 'sacred trash.' But could these also be reverently put through a shredder?

Any input from Forum readers would be welcome.

Archpriest David Straut


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Canon 68 of the Quinisext Council: "As regards the fact that it is not permissible for anyone to destroy, . . . any of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, or of our holy and eminent Preachers and Teachers, unless it be completely useless because of having been damaged . . . in some . . . way.


Father David:

Father bless!!

I think your answer is right here in the canon itself. If you receive back Bibles that are very well used and not necessarily in good enough condition to pass on to another, I don't believe that you trespass against this canon by reverently disposing of them. But I don't believe reverent disposition involves the trash can either.

I was taught in the Latin Church that it is proper to dispose of sacred articles by burning them and burying the ashes where they cannot be walked on--close to a house foundation, for example. There is also the option of taking them to the parish church and have the priest put them into the sacrarium--the sacred well used to dispose of burned and blessed things like excess holy water (from tasks like washing out the sacred vessels after they have been properly abluted at the credence table). The sacrarium is usually a ten foot deep well filled with gravel with a straight pipe rather than a trap like a sink would have that drains small amounts of water, ash or other sacred matter into a place where it can stay in the earth and return to the elements.

My parish has installed an actual pit with a cover that can be used for this sort of thing (burning) with the pastor's permission, as well as the fact that we start the Paschal fire in it. We have disposed of lots of things with the use of this pit and buried the ashes near the church wall: old service books, hymnals, etc.

Please understand that this is not about burning things for burning's sake, but the reverent disposal of sacred articles and objects that are no longer of use or that are beyond recognition. I think it's akin to burying broken statuary that has been used either in church or in a home.

Bob

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Excommunication for destroying old Bibles or giving them away to others?

???


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I think the canon refers to the practice of using old Bibles or liturgical or other sacred materials as some sort of "potion" where they'd be ground up and used for some superstitious purpose. Notice the word "druggist" in the canon.

Excommunication is medicinal--it's meant to get a person's attention and get correction into that one's life. It is an extreme measure, but remember how things had to change when Christianity went from being small groups who were all on the same page to a societal thing with many more people. A small group can be more easily homogeneous, but the larger a group gets, the more chance for people to have unusual things creep in.

Bob

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I had a closet full of materials with icons on them (some color, some line drawings) as well as paper copies of Scripture and Liturgical texts that I felt uncomfortable with putting in the recycle bin. I finally chose to burn them. Since then, I shred the paper and then either recycle or burn them. I admit that I still feel a bit uncomfortable about recycling the shredded materials.

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This thread is making me scrupulous about throwing parish bulletins away. They all have icons on the front.

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Originally Posted by Roman Interloper
Excommunication for destroying old Bibles or giving them away to others?

???


Keep in mind that this canon was adopted in 692, when bibles were hand written. Indeed, it would be a scandal to destroy a bible which took months to write. This definitely was not a "throwaway society."

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Originally Posted by Roman Interloper
This thread is making me scrupulous about throwing parish bulletins away. They all have icons on the front.


Icons... or pictures of icons? There is a difference... though I would still burn the bulletins and not put them in the bin.

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They ought to print their bulletins without sacred art, in that case. Now I'm inclined never to take one again. Some of us live in modern apartment buildings which have no fireplaces. What would one recommend, exactly?

Perhaps next time I take a trip on a scenic steam railway I can bring my bulletins along with me and give them to the engineer to burn in his locomotive. With any luck, Casey Jones will be Orthodox and not find my request at all odd.


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