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Augustine Quotes on Dealing With Those Who Have Different Views

Compiled by Jeremy Hiers, O.S.A.

“Every human being is neighbor to every other human being. Even those you do not know share in your humanity. Is this person known as a friend? Let them stay as a friend. Is this person your enemy? Let them become a friend.” (Sermon 229D, 1).

“We may never reject the friendship of anyone who wishes to be our friend. Certainly, we are not obliged to accept everyone immediately in friendship, but it should be our wish to accept everybody as our friend. Our attitude towards others should be such that the possibility of taking them into our friendship remains open.” (On Diverse Questions, 83, 71).

“If you would be safe from your enemy, learn to love him. Make charity grow in yourself, for it will shape you and restore you in God’s image. When your charity extends to your enemies, you will resemble the One who makes his sun rise not only on the good but on good and evil, and waters not only the field of the good man, but the field of the just and the sinner alike” (On Psalm 99, 5)

“A Christian should not try to glory over others. If you wish to be better than another, you will begin to envy him when you see that he is your equal. You should wish that everyone be your equal.”

“You say, the times are troublesome, the times are burdensome, the times are miserable. Live rightly and you will change the times. The times have never hurt anyone. Those who are hurt are human beings; those by whom they are hurt are also human beings. So, change human beings and the times will be changed.” (Sermon 311, 8).

“Unless humility precedes, accompanies, and follows whatever good we do, unless it is a goal on which we keep our eye, a companion at our side, and a yoke upon our neck, we will find that we have done little good to rejoice in; pride will have robbed us of everything.” (Letter 118, 2).

“Be assured that abuses are not done away with by harsh or severe or autocratic measures, but by teaching rather than by commanding, by persuasion rather than by threats. This is the way to deal with the people in general, reserving severity for the sins of the few. If we make threats, let it be done sorrowfully, in the words of Scripture, and in terms of the world to come. In this way, it is not we who are feared because of our power, but God because of our words.” (Letter 22, 5).

“All who love their brothers and sisters put up with everything for the sake of unity, because neighborly love consists in the unity of love. Suppose an evil person would offend you, or one whom you judge to be evil or even only image to be so. Would you, abandon so many others who are good?” (Sermon on 1 John 1, 12).

“Clearly, it is not by harshness or by severity, or by overbearing methods, that social evils are removed. It is by education rather than by formal commands, by persuasion rather than by threats. This is the way to deal with people in general. Severity, however, should be employed only against the sins of the few.” (Letter 22, 5).

“Where there is no envy or fear, differences, far from creating divisions, foster harmony.” (On Holy Virginity, 29).

“Nothing could be better for the world than those who are in power to join a good life to the art of political government. Such humble leaders attribute all their virtues, however many they may have on earth, to the grace of God who bestows them on those who pray for them. Such leaders understand how imperfect they are. They realize that they are not angels.” (City of God, 5.19).

“We call those Christian rulers happy who govern with justice, never forgetting that they are only human. They think of sovereignty as a ministry of God, and they fear and worship God. They are slow to punish and quick to forgive. They temper with mercy and generosity the unavoidable harshness of their commands. They are all the more in control of their sinful desires because they are freer to indulge them. They prefer to rule their own passions more than to rule the peoples of the world. They rule not out of vain glory but out of love for everlasting bliss. They offer to God the humble sacrifice of their repentance and prayer. In this life they are happy in their hope and are destined to be truly happy when the eternal day comes for which we all hope.” (City of God, 5.24).

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