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

“We need the Holy Spirit …

…  to understand the Holy Spirit.”

One of my GoodReads “now reading” books is Giver of Life: The Holy Spirit in Orthodox Tradition.” The author is Fr. John Oliver, a priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese serving St. Elizabeth the New Martyr mission in Tennessee.  I found Fr. John through his warm, yet profound podcast series ” Hearts and Minds”  at Ancient Faith Radio.

In the book’s introduction, he gives us this “most fitting plea” to receive the Holy Spirit from St. Symeon the New Theologian (942-1022), found in Hymns of Divine Love ( Denville NY, Dimension, 1976).

Come, true light. Come, eternal life. Come, hidden mystery. Come, nameless treasure.

Come, ineffable reality. Come, inconceivable person. Come, endless bliss. Come, non-setting sun.

Come, infallible expectation of all those who must be saved. Come O Powerful One, who always creates and recreates and transforms by Your will alone.

Come, O invisible and totally intangible and impalpable. Come, you who always remain motionless and each moment move completely and come to us, asleep in hades, O you above the heavens.

Come, O beloved Name and repeated everywhere, but of whom it is absolutely forbidden for us to express the existence or to know the Nature.

Come, eternal joy. Come, non-tarnishing crown. Come, great purple of the great king our God.

Come, crystalline cincture, studded with precious stones. Come, inaccessible sandal. Come, royal purple.

Come, truly sovereign right hand. Come, you who my miserable soul has desired and desires.

Come, You the Lonely, to the lonely, since You see I am lonely. Come, You who have separated me from everything and made me solitary in this world.

Come, You who have become Yourself desire in me, who have made me desire You, You the absolutely inaccessible one.

Come, my breath and my life! Come, consolation of my poor soul! Come, my joy, my glory, my endless light!

The Protection of the Theototos and Ever-virgin, Mary

The words of Demetrios, Archbishop of America, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America:

In theological terms, the Theotokos is our Protectress since she is the Motheof God. We know in our human experience that the pleadings between a mother and son can carry great weight. The very special and unique relationship that the Virgin Mary held with Jesus as her Son, our Lord, makes her a truly powerful intercessor for our salvation. Therefore, whenever we pray to God and ask the Theotokos to intercede for our salvation, we are invoking intercessions which carry a distinctively high degree of influence.

This powerful role of the Theotokos as a Divine Protectress is recognized historically and liturgically. In as much as Christians throughout history have sought the intercessions of the Theotokos for spiritual salvation, they have also asked for her intercessions for physical protection itself. For example, historical accounts of entire masses of people praying for the intercessions ofthe Theotokos to protect them from physical danger have been documented throughout the history of Constantinople during the numerous times overthe centuries when the city was under siege, until its eventual fall in 1453. Indeed, the role of the Theotokos as a Protectress is connected with the liberation of the modern Greek state from Ottoman oppression in 1821.     -from the website http://www.goarch.org/news/2007-03-14-archpastoralreflection


The prayer of a servant:

REJOICE, O Theotokos, O Virgin, for the Lord is with you. You have found favor with God and His grace is full upon you. Blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus and blessed are you among women, for you have borne the Savior of our souls. Mother Mary, we ask you to  intercede for us before your Son as you did for the bride and groom at Cana. Add your prayers to oursv_mary_christ: pray for the unity of the faith and the reconciliation of our Churches,  pray for our families, pray for the salvation of us sinners, pray for each of us that we may not be brought to trial.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.