Procedure in the early ch. by which one guilty of wrongdoing was subjected to punishment intended to restore him to membership, usually by a series of steps: (1) Prosklausis (Gk.), or fletus (Lat.); both terms refer to weeping. Penitents (cheimazomenoi [Gk.], or hiemantes [Lat.], troubled, distressed, or lugentes [Lat.], mourning), in mourning, admitted only to the ch. vestibule, wept and requested prayers of the assembling cong.; usually 1 yr. (2) Akroasis (Gk.), or auditio (Lat.); both terms refer to hearing. Penitents admitted into ch. for Bible readings and sermon, but restricted to the background, near the entrance; constrained to leave before missa* fidelium; usually 3 yrs. (3) Hypoptosis (Gk.), or genuflexio or substratio (Lat.); reference is to gestures of humble obedience and respect. Penitents admitted farther into the ch. to kneel at prayer and receive special assignments, e.g., burial of the dead in times of pestilence; time indeterminate. (4) Systasis (Gk.), or consistentia (Lat.), lit. a standing together. Penitents permitted to stand with the cong. to the end of the service; time indeterminate. At the end of this step full membership, including admission to Communion, was restored in a special ceremony by the bp. Advancement from step to step was usually in Lent, restoration to membership usually on Maundy Thursday See also Discipline, Church; Genuflectentes.
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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