My kids thought I should be aware of a law they discovered in school today. Apparently in the Corpus Juris Civilis, also known as the Code of Justinian, it was against the law to preach in such a way that your audience couldn’t hear you. I was particularly struck by the last paragraph of the law (in bold below). In case the threat of divine judgement wasn’t enough, the state wanted to make sure you knew that they would not leave you unpunished.
While I do find a bit of humor in the fact that the state created such a law, I also find some great wisdom.
Anyway, for all you preachers out there, don’t break the law…
In addition to this, We order all bishops and priests to repeat the divine service and the prayer, when baptism is performed, not in an undertone, but in a loud voice which can be heard by the faithful people, in such a way that the minds of the listeners may be induced to manifest greater devotion, and a higher appreciation of the praises and blessings of God. For as the Divine Apostle states in his First Epistle to the Corinthians: “But if you solely bless in spirit, how, after your act of grace, can the layman, who does not hear what you say, pronounce the holy word Amen; for if, while you are offering thanks to God, he does not understand, he will not be edified.” Again, in his Epistle to the Romans, he says: “Even though one may sincerely trust in the justice of God, confessions should be made with the mouth in order that salvation may be obtained.”
Therefore, it is proper that the prayers made during divine service, and the other supplications addressed to Our Lord Jesus Christ, God Our Father, and the Holy Spirit, should be uttered in a loud tone, by the most holy priests and bishops; and We notify all ecclesiastics that if they should violate any of these provisions, they must render an account of their conduct on the terrible Judgment Day of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and that We, when informed of these matters, shall not disregard them, and leave them unpunished.