I have no enemies, only cruel friends …

The words of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ: 

But I say to you that whoever gets angry with his brother without cause will be liable to the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Empty-head!’ will be liable to the council. But whoever says, ‘ fool!’ will be liable to the fiery hell. Therefore if you offer your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Make friends with your adversary quickly, while you are on the road with him, lest your adversary hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be cast into prison. Assuredly I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. Mat 5:22-26

My teen brought the prayer below home from church school several months ago, but I just read it this weekend, at a providential time. I can’t verify the authorship for certain, but it seems likely it came from the 20th century saint  Nikolai Velimirovich, The New Chrysostom, Bishop of Ochrid and Zhicha. He was a man of God who faced many challenges in life and may have had a certain hardness of heart at some point.  But in walking along the Way towards his salvation, God gave him opportunities to rise above the world and free himself from his worldly passions; the Church recognizes that he chose to accept those gifts of grace and freedom. God extends the same to each of us.

A Prayer for One’s Enemies – attributed to St Nicolai of Zica

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

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 does 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.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.

They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.

They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself they have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

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

Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were small.

Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Your garment.

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

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitter against me, so that my fleeing to You may have no return.

so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;

so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

 Therefore, bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand.

But a son blesses them, for he understands.  For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life.  Therefore, he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

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


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