St. Gregory the Great urges his congregation not to fall into the trap of the Manichean heresy. But he also urges them to pray for the heretics. We should pray constantly that all who have strayed will be brought back to the Lord.
We deplore the blasphemy of those who deny that Christ was truly human—about whom the blessed Apostle John forewarned us in a crystal-clear saying: “every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist” (1 John 4:2-3).
So let no Christians have anything to do with people like that. Let them have no alliance or dealings with those people.
But there is a practice sanctioned by the Church and divinely instituted, and I not only do not forbid it, but I even urge you to it: you should pray to the Lord even for those people. I myself, with tears and mourning, feel pity for the ruin of cheated souls, following the example of the Apostles in piety, so as to be weak with those who are weak and weep with those who weep.
For we hope that God’s mercy can be earned by the many tears and appropriate amendment of the fallen. As long as life remains in the body, we must not despair of anyone’s restoration, but we must desire the reform of everyone with the Lord’s help.
–St. Gregory the Great, Sermon 34, 5IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
Who seems to me to be the worst enemy of the Church right now?
How much have I prayed for that person lately?
Father, I pray that my erring brothers and sisters may not remain in the pits they have dug for themselves, but that they may turn to God’s Church, and that Christ may be born in them.
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