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. Continue reading

Correcting One Another III

Thoughts from St. John of Kronstadt, archpriest of the Russian Orthodox Church during the 19th century, canonized in the 1960’s:

“If you wish to correct the faults of anyone, do not think of trying to do so solely by your own means:  you would only do harm by your own vices, for instance pride and the irritability arising from it; but cast thy burden upon the Lord, and pray with all your heart that God himself will enlighten the heart and mind of that man. If He sees that your prayer breathes love, and that it really comes from the depths of your heart, He will undoubtedly fulfill it, and you will soon see, from the change that has taken place in him for whom you prayed, that it is the work of the most high God.”

From the book Spirtual Counsels: Select Passages from ‘My Like in Christ’

Correcting One Another

Let’s think about Christian correction. At what point is one Christian allowed to seek to correct another? Who is allowed to do so? From where does the moral authority  to correct come? What correction mean within a hierarchical and apostolic church? What does it mean in the life of a lay person? Can the willfully ignorant, willfully dismissive, or willfully disruptive person be corrected or do they need to be tolerated within the congregation? Or do they need to leave?

America Magazine, a publication of the American Jesuits, offers a springboard for this reflection in the article “Christian Correction.”