Bless my enemies, O Lord

 

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.1

Enemies have driven me into Your embrace more than friends have. Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul. Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

The Father looks from Heaven and sees me covered with wounds

 

The Father looks from Heaven and sees me covered with wounds from the injustice of men, and says: "Do not take revenge."1

On whom shall I take revenge, O Lord? On a portion of the flock on its way to slaughter?

Does a physician take revenge on patients, for cursing him from their death bed?

On whom shall I take revenge? On the snow, for melting, or on the grass, for withering? Does a gravedigger take revenge on those descending into the grave?

On whom shall I take revenge? On simpletons, for thinking that they can do evil to someone else in the world besides themselves?  Does a teacher take revenge on illiterate children for not knowing how to read?

Eternity bears me witness, that all those who are quick to avenge are slow to read and comprehend the mysteries of vengeance.

Time bears me witness, that all those who have taken revenge, have accumulated poison in themselves, and with poison they have blotted themselves out of the book of the living.

In what way can you avengers boast before your adversaries, except by being able to repeat their evil? Are you not thereby saying: "We are no better than you?"

God bears me witness: both you and your adversaries are equally reckless and equally incapable of good.

I have seen a cherry tree stripped of its bark and set fire to by children, yet it gave its ripe fruit to those same children.

And I have seen cows, which men tormented with heavy burdens, patiently give milk to those same men.

And tears welled up in my eyes: why is nature more compassionate to men than man is to his fellow man?

Nature bears me witness, avengers: a man is more power­ful than those who do him evil only when he is powerless to repeat their evil deeds.

There is no end to vengeance, and the heirs continue the work of their fathers and then depart, leaving it unfinished.

Evil races along the wide road, and from each new duel it gains strength and territory, and it multiplies its retinue.

A wise man gets off the road, and leaves evil to race [with itself].

A piece of bread silences a barking dog more swiftly than a pile of stones does.

He who taught men: an eye for an eye -- also taught them how they would all be left blind.

On whom shall I take revenge, my heavenly Father? On a portion of the flock on its way to slaughter?

Ah, how wretched are all evildoers and avengers! Truly, they resemble a flock on its way to be slaughtered and, unaware of where they are heading, they butt horns with each other and perpetrate a slaughter before the slaughter.

I do not seek vengeance, my Father; I do not seek vengeance, but seek rather that You grant me a sea of tears, so that I can bewail the wretchedness of those who are on their way to slaughter, unaware of where they are heading.

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1.  Matt. 5:38-42 and Rom. 12:19.

Guide my tongue, O Blessed Wisdom


Guide my tongue, O Blessed Wisdom, so that it may not deviate from truth for the rest of my life. Remind me of Your presence, so that I may be afraid to utter falsehood. Encourage me with Your presence, so that I may freely speak the truth.

An oath bears witness to falsehood in the world. In the kingdom of truth oaths are unknown.1

As out of a deep pit many wicked vapors escape, so out of self-deception all sins come forth, each with its own color and scent.

Deliver my soul from self-delusion


 

Deliver my soul from self-delusion, my God, so that my body may also be delivered from bodily sin.

Deliver my soul from foolish arrogance and burning anger, and my body will neither behave foolishly nor burn.

The soul designed the body to be a portrait of herself, to be the organ of her speech. The body is mute and inert, either for good or for evil, if the soul will not speak.

The body knows nothing of adultery, if the soul does not tell it. Adultery is carried out in the heart; the body only repeats in its clumsy way what has been woven with fine threads in the mysterious chambers of the heart.1

My neighbors, look upon a woman the way a woman looks upon herself and self-delusion will fall from your eyes like scales.2 look upon every being from within that being, and you will look, not with desire, but with compassion. You, O God, have sanctified marriage, and You have also sanctified celibacy.3

Those, who have the wisdom and the strength to use all the life bestowed on them by You for serving You, You have blessed.

And those, who are unable to keep within themselves all the life given to them, You have blessed, so that they can share it and transfer it to new beings, through a wife.

Truly it is self-delusion for a man to think that a woman attracts him. Indeed, it is the unused life in a man -- which drives a man toward a woman, for life does not wish to remain unused. You are life, O my God, and life is light. You are light, O my God, and You do not wish to be hidden in darkness and kept from shining.

Blessed is the man, who knows You within himself, and gives free rein to You to shine in his soul and in his body.

It is not important, whether you shine in one body or in shared flesh -- You merely wish to shine and illuminate the world and to fill it with Your life and Your strength.

Blessed is the woman from whose eyes self-delusion falls and who knows a man the way a man knows himself, the woman who rejects desire and fills herself with compassion. She too keeps life within herself, with fear and dignity, as though she were keeping heaven within herself.

Blessed is everyone who comes to know in due time that adultery defiles and kills life.

One does not fool around with God. It is safer to fool around with fire than with God.

Nor is life, which comes from God, a narcotic for instant stupefactions, after which self-delusion manifests itself again and again; while shame and humiliati6n fall like heavy stones on the heart, emptied of one demented desire.

Deliver my soul from self-delusion, my God, so that my body may also be delivered from bodily sin.

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1. Matt. 5:27-30.

2. Acts 9:18.

3. Matt. 19:3-12, John 2:1-11, and 1 Cor. 7.

You have filled Yourself with peace




You have filled Yourself with peace, O Glory of the realms on high, and the anger of all lands cannot confound Your peace.

Among mortals peace is scarce, therefore anger has become arrogant.

In the bosom of arrogance anger makes its nest, and in the bosom of anger lies murder.1

All sins lead to murder, but none stands so close to murder as anger.

The one-eyed laws of the world do not punish anger, because they do not see that anger kills. But Your clairvoyant law, O Glory of the realms on high, calls anger murder.

I strove, in sunlight and moonlight, to penetrate the mystery of Your law. And once my striving began to wear away all my worldly aspirations, I began to perceive how the anger of my neighbors was killing me.

The children of anger are slaves, while the children of peace are sons.

Therefore Your Wisdom vociferates and reiterates to people, telling them to be sons!

For a son looks into the face of his father, and directs his own face toward the face of his father. And when he sees peace in the father's face, how can he disfigure his own face with anger, without diverting his gaze away from his father?

Anger brings infirmity into both the one who is angry and the one against whom the anger is vented. And infirmity is the predecessor of death.

A wonderworker does not work miracles among the children of anger, for the children of anger bring infirmity into him.

My neighbors: why do you feel stronger among those who love you, and weaker among those whom your presence angers? Is it not because the former lengthen your life with love, and the latter shorten your life with anger?

Therefore I enjoy being constantly with You, O Glory of the realms on high. For only in Your presence am I neither murdering, nor being murdered by them.

Just as drop after drop of water erodes even the hardest stone, so does anger erode the life of two people.

Like a murderer waiting in ambush with a knife, so does anger lurk in a haughty heart.

Truly, arrogance knows that it is guilty; therefore it places anger at the gates, to act as its sentry.

Arrogance knows that it is sinful; therefore it has found itself an advocate in another sin.

Fill my heart with serenity, O Glory of the realms on high, with the serenity of the angels before Your throne. For serenity has no abode or resting place for anger.

Grant me the serenity of a son, and I shall be ashamed to become angry at slaves or to kill slaves. Armor me with Your peace, which the anger of the children of anger will not be able to confound.

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1. Matt. 5:21-26.

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"As the Prophets saw, as the Apostles taught, as the Church has received, as the Teachers express in dogma, as the inhabited world understands together with them, as grace illumines, as the truth makes clear, as error has been banished, as wisdom makes bold to declare, as Christ has assured, so we think, so we speak, so we preach, honoring Christ our true God, and his Saints, in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in churches, in icons, worshiping and revering the One as God and Lord, and honoring them because of their common Lord as those who are close to him and serve him, and making to them relative veneration. This is the faith of the Apostles; this is the faith of the Fathers; this is the faith of the Orthodox; this faith makes fast the inhabited world."
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