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February 25, 2016

Saint Maximus the Confessor on Heretics

By St. Maximus the Confessor

Heretics, therefore, we should in no way help, as heretics, even if we all are allowed without fear to do anything, both for the aforementioned reasons, nor to impinge on God without realizing it; and because it is not good to give them the freedom to festively process in their falsehood and protest against piety, so as to prevent them from shaking the secure foundation of the Faith of certain ones who are naive, with the bite of treachery, like snakes, appearing within us, and we also are found, without wanting, to participate in the punishment which hangs over them for this. [...]

I do not write these things in order to grieve heretics, nor to rejoice in their misfortune - God forbid - but rather to rejoice and be glad in their return. Because what is more pleasant to the faithful, than to see the scattered children of God, to gather together 'as one'? Nor again do I admonish you to prefer severity over philanthropy - let us not be so mad - but I plead with you that with care and examination to do and act with goodness towards all people and become 'all things to all', according to the manner in which each has need. But I do want and I pray that you will certainly be severe and unsoftened in helping heretics, which would result in the support of their lunatic doctrines. For I certainly define as misanthropy and separation from the divine love to try to give strength to their error, towards the further corruption of those who are occupied by it.

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Ου δεί ουν αιρετικοίς καθ οίόν δήποτε τρόπον, ως αιρετικοίς, βοηθείν, ει και πάσι πάντα μετελθείν αδεώς επετέτραπτο· δια τε τας ειρημένας αιτίας, ίνα μη τω Θεώ προσκρούοντες λάθωμεν· και μη καλόν είναι διδόναι αυτοίς άδειαν εμπομπεύειν τω οικείω ψεύδει, και ανασείεσθαι κατά της ευσεβείας· ίνα μη δι ημών εμφανισθέντες, όφεως δίκην, των αφελεστέρων τινάς απάτης δήγματι δυνηθώσι της κατά την πίστιν ασφαλούς βάσεως κατασείσαι· και ευρεθώμεν και ημείς, ως ου θέλομεν, της υπέρ τούτου επηρτημένης αυτοίς συμμετέχοντες δίκης. […]

Ου θέλων δε τους αιρετικούς θλίβεσθαι, ουδέ χαίρων τη κακώσει αυτών, γράφω ταύτα, μη γένοιτο, αλλά τη επιστροφή μάλλον χαίρων και συναγαλλόμενος. Τι γαρ τοις πιστοίς τερπνότερον, του θεάσθαι τα τέκνα του Θεού τα διεσκορπισμένα, συναγόμενα εις εν. Ούτε υμίν του φιλανθρώπου το απηνές παραινών προτιθέναι· μη ούτω μανείην· αλλά μετά προσεχείας και δοκιμασίας ποιείν τε και ενεργείν τα καλά εις πάντας ανθρώπους, και πάσι πάντα γινομένους, καθώς έκαστος επιδείται υμών, παρακαλών· προς μόνον το καθοτιούν αιρετικοίς συνάρασθαι εις σύστασιν της φρενοβλαβούς αυτών δόξης, σκληρούς παντελώς είναι υμάς και αμειλίκτους βούλομαί τε και εύχομαι. Μισανθρωπίαν γαρ ορίζομαι έγωγε, και αγάπης θείας χωρισμόν, το τη πλάνη πειράσθαι διδόναι ισχύν εις περισσοτέραν των αυτή προκατειλημμένων φθοράν.

From Letter 12 - "To John the Cubicularius, On the Correct Dogmas of the Church of God and Against Severus the Heretic", PG 91, 464–465. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.