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St. Maximus the Confessor

Papal Supremacy, Apostolic See, Keys, Rock of the Church, Papal Authority, Foundation of the Church, Prince of the Apostles, Validating a Council, The Roman See, St. Peter

“The extremities of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the inspired and [six] holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation, seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High.” (Maximus, a native of Constantinople, Opuscula theologica et polemica, Migne, Patr. Graec. vol. 90 [c. A.D. 650]).

[Ibid] “[After telling his monk-disciple Anastasios that the Byzantines had told him that Rome was not in communion with the Monothelites & is ordering the whole church to subscribe to that doctrine, he continues in this letter with instructions to inquire into whether this was true]…Anasatios [a different one than Maximos’ monk-disciple to whom he writes this letter] ordered me to transcribe these things and to make them known to you most holy people, in order that, when you have found out about the trial from these, you might all bring a common prayer to the Lord on behalf of our common mother, that is the Catholic church, and on behalf of us your unworthy servants, for strengthening everyone and us also, persevering with you in it, according to the orthodox faith rightly preached in it by the holy fathers. For there is great fear in the whole world because this [Church] endures persecution by everyone at the same time, unless He [God] offers aid by his customary grace, He who always comes to aid, leaving the seed of piety at least in older Rome, confirming His promise he made to the prince of the Apostles, which does not deceive us“(Letter of Maximos to Anastasius his disciple – CPG 7701, Clauis Patrum Graecorum, vols. 1-5, Corpus Christainorum. Gerhard, M.)

“How much more in the case of the clergy and Church of the Romans, which from old until now presides over all the churches which are under the sun? Having surely received this canonically, as well as from councils and the apostles, as from the princes of the latter (Peter & Paul), and being numbered in their company, she is subject to no writings or issues in synodical documents, on account of the eminence of her pontificate …..even as in all these things all are equally subject to her (the Church of Rome) according to sacerodotal law. And so when, without fear, but with all holy and becoming confidence, those ministers (the Popes) are of the truly firm and immovable rock, that is of the most great and Apostolic Church of Rome.” (Maximus, in J.B. Mansi, ed. Amplissima Collectio Conciliorum, vol. 10 [c. A.D. 650]).

“This Apostolic See [i.e. Rome], which, from the Incarnate Word of God Himself, as well as from the holy councils (according to the sacred canons and definitions) has received and possesses the sovereignty, authority and power of binding and loosing over all the churches of God in the entire world, in and through all things. With it the Word, set at the head of the Heavenly powers, binds and looses in Heaven.” (Opuscula theologica et polemica).

“Christ the Lord called that Church the Catholic Church which maintains the true and saving confession of the Faith. It was for this confession that He called Peter blessed, and He declared that He would found His Church upon this confession.” (quoted in Pope Anastasius (the Librarian) The Life of Our Holy Father St. Maximus the Confessor (Boston: Holy Transfiguration, 1982), pp. 60-62).

“The Church united and established upon the rock of Peter’s confession we call according to the decree of the Savior the universal Church, wherein we must remain for the salvation of our souls and wherein loyal to his faith and confession we must obey him.” (Letter to the Orientals).

“For the very ends of the earth and those in every part of the world who purely and rightly confess the Lord, look directly to the most holy Church of the Romans and its confession and faith as though it were a sun of unfailing light, expecting from it the illuminating splendour of the Fathers and sacred dogmas…For ever since the Incarnate Word of God came down to us, all the churches of Christians everywhere have held that greatest Church there to be their sole base and foundation, since on the one hand, it is in no way overcome by the gates of Hades, according to the very promise of the Saviour , but holds the keys of the orthodox confession and faith in him and opens the only true and real religion to those who approach with godliness, and on the other hand, it shuts up and locks every heretical mouth that speaks unrighteousness against the most High“. (Opuscula 11).

“In this regard the wretches have not conformed to the sense of the Apostolic See, and, what is laughable, or rather lamentable, as proving their ignorance, they have not hesitated to lie against the Apostolic See itself; but as though they were in its counsel, and as if they had received a decree from it, in the acts they have composed in defence of the impious ecthesis, they have claimed the great Honorius on their side….. What did the divine Honorius do, and after him the aged [Pope] Severinus, and [Pope] John who followed him? Yet further, what supplication has the blessed Pope, who now sits, not made? Have not the whole East and West brought their tears, laments, obsecrations, deprecations, both before God in prayer and before men in their letters?…..

“If the Roman See recognizes Pyrrhus to be not only a reprobate but a heretic, it is certainly plain that everyone who anathematizes those who have rejected Pyrrhus, anathematizes the See of Rome, that is, he anathematizes the Catholic Church. I need hardly add that he excommunicates himself also, if indeed he is in communion with the Roman See and the Catholic Church of God. I beseech you, therefore, blessed Lord, to order that no one should speak of Pyrrhus as sanctissimus or almificus, for the holy canon does not allow him to be so styled….

“….For he who has willfully separated from the Catholic Church has fallen from all holiness. For it is not right that one who has already been condemned and cast out by the Apostolic See of the city of Rome for his wrong opinions should be named with any king of honor , until he be received by her [Rome], having returned to her, nay, to our Lord, by a pious confession and orthodox faith, by which he can receives holiness and the name of holy. Therefore, if he wishes neither to be a heretic nor to be accounted one, let him not make satisfaction to this or that person, for this is superfluous and unreasonable. For just as all are scandalized at him when one is scandalized, so also, when satisfaction has been made to one, all without doubt are satisfied. Let him hasten before all things to satisfy the Roman See, for if it is satisfied, all will agree in calling him pious and orthodox. For he only speaks in vain who thinks he ought to persuade or entrap persons like myself, and does not satisfy and implore the blessed Pope of the most holy Church of the Romans, that is, the Apostolic See, which from the incarnate Son of God himself, and also by all holy synods, according to the holy canons and definitions, has received universal and supreme dominion, authority, and power of binding and loosing over all the holy churches of God which are in the whole world. For with it the Word who is above the celestial powers binds and looses in heaven also. For if he thinks he must satisfy others, and fails to implore the most blessed Roman Pope, he is acting like a man who, when accused of murder or some other crime, does not hasten to prove his innocence to the judge appointed by law, but only uselessly and without profit does his best to demonstrate his innocence to private individuals, who have no power to acquit him from the accusation. Wherefore, my blessed Lord, extend yet further the precept which it is known that you have made well and according to God’s will, by which Pyrrhus is not allowed to speak or misspeak with regard to dogma. But discover clearly his intention by further inquiry , whether he will altogether agree to the truth. And if he is careful to do this, exhort him to make a becoming statement to the Roman Pope, so that by his command the matter concerning Pyrrhus may be canonically and suitably ordered for the glory of God and the praise of your sublimity…” (Epistle of Maximos to Peter the Illustrious, Opuscula 12 [Mansi x, 692]).

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