Tag Archives: Loving Enemies

Orthodox Church quotes about loving enemies

Elder Thaddeus on Love, Hate, and Kindness

Human KindnessIt seems that we do not understand one thing: it is not good when we return the love of those who love us, yet hate those who hate us. We are not on the right path if we do this. We are the sons of light and love, the sons of God, his children. As such we must have His qualities and His attributes of love, peace, and kindness towards all.

+ Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives

 

St. Isaac the Syrian: Conquer men by your gentle kindness . . .

Icon of St. Isaac the Syrian“Conquer men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of justice to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.”

+ St. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian, Homily 64, “On Prayer, Prostrations, Tears, Reading, Silence, and Hymnody”

St. Kosmas Aitolos: If a man insults me, kills my father, my mother, my brother, and then gouges out my eye . . .

St. Kosmas Atilios 7“If a man insults me, kills my father, my mother, my brother, and then gouges out my eye, as a Christian it is my duty to forgive him. We who are pious Christians ought to love our enemies and forgive them. We ought to offer them food and drink, and entreat God for their souls. And then we should say: ‘My God, I beseech Thee to forgive me, as I have forgiven my enemies.’”

+St. Kosmas Aitolos, The Life of St. Kosmas Aitolos Together with an English Translation of His Teaching and Letters, Translated by Nomikos Michael Vaporis

St. John of Kronstadt: Avoid by every means occasions, causes, and words that produce enmity . . .

Icon of St. John of KronstadtAvoid by every means occasions, causes, and words that produce enmity, and avail yourself of every opportunity and occasion to show holy and sincere love.

By doing the first, the inimical disposition of the soul will little by little be eradicated, and by the second, love will be nourished and strengthened.

Do not allow yourself for a moment to have any ill-feeling against anyone; always be kind to everyone, conquering your evil disposition by the love that endureth all things and conquereth all things.

Avoid obstinacy, self-will, and opposing your neighbor; do not persist in having your own way, in order to satisfy your caprice, or in order to intentionally injure anyone.Book St John Kronstadt My Life in Christ

+ St. John of Kronstadt, My Life in Christ [paperback]  or  [hardback]

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St. Hilarion of Optina: We cannot live in such a way that no one grieves or offends us . . .

Icon of All Saints“We cannot live in such a way that no one grieves or offends us, for the Apostle Luke writes: we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22), and bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). Let us therefore ask that we may bear sorrows with self-reproach and humility and not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good, and with the Prophet say: With them that hate pace I was peaceable (Ps. 119:6).”

+ St. Hilarion of Optina, Quoted from Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

St. Nikolai Velimirovich: Bless My Enemies O Lord

Icon of St. Nikolai VelimirovichEnemies 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 does, 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 a dwarf.

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 bitterly 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 enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands.Book Prayers By the Lake by St Nikolai Velimirovich

For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life.

Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

+ St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prayers By the Lake (A Treasury of Serbian Orthodox Spirituality, Volume 5)

St. Peter of Damascus: Such are the souls of the saints: they love their enemies more than themselves, and . . .

Icon of St. Peter of Damascus“Such are the souls of the saints: they love their enemies more than themselves, and in this age and in the age to come they put their neighbor first in all things, even though because of his ill-will he may be their enemy. They do not seek recompense from those whom they love, but because they have themselves received they rejoice in giving to others all that they have, so that they may conform to their Benefactor and imitate His compassion to the best of their ability; ‘for He is bountiful to the thankless and to sinners’ (cf. Luke 6:35).”

+ St. Peter of Damaskos, “Book I: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge,” The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)

St. Ephraim the Syrian: Joseph as a Type of Christ

Patriarch JosephFor just as the Lord was sent to us
from the Father’s bosom [John 1:18] to save us all,

So the youth Joseph from Jacob’s bosom [Gen 37:13-14]
was sent to enquire about his own brothers.

And just as Joseph’s harsh brothers,
as soon as they saw him approaching,

began to devise evil against him,
though he was bringing them peace

from their father, so the Jews also,
ever hard of heart, as soon as they saw

the Saviour, said, ‘This is the heir [Matt 21:38],
let us kill him, and all will be ours’.

And just as Joseph’s brothers said,
‘Let us do away with him, and let us be set free

of his dreams’, [Gen 37:20] in the same way too
the Jews said, ‘Come, let us kill
him and lay hold on his inheritance’.[Mat 21:18]

Joseph’s brothers, while eating,
sold him, slaying him in intent.

In the same way too the abominable Jews,
while eating the Passover, slew the Saviour.

The descent of Joseph into Egypt signifies
the descent to earth of our Saviour.

And as Joseph within the marriage chamber
trampled down all the strength of sin,

putting on the bright prizes of victory,
against the Egyptian woman, his mistress,

so too the Lord, the Saviour of our souls,
by his own right hand, descending into Hell,

destroyed there all the power
of the dread and near invincible tyrant.

When Joseph had conquered sin
he was put in prison until the hour of his crowning;

so too the Lord, that he might take away
every sin of the world, was placed in a grave.

Joseph in prison spent two whole years,
passing his time in great freedom [cf Gen 39:21-23]

while the Lord, as powerful, remained
in the tomb for three days, not undergoing corruption.

Joseph, on Pharao’s order, was brought out
graciously from prison, as a true type,

when he easily interpreted the meaning of the dreams,
indicating the abundance of grain that was going to be;

while our Lord [Jesus Christ] was raised from the dead
by his own power, despoiling Hell,

offering to the Father our liberation,
proclaiming resurrection and everlasting life.

Joseph took his seat in Pharao’s chariot,
having received authority over the whole of Egypt;

while our Saviour, king before the ages,
ascending into heaven on a cloud of light,

took his seat with glory at the Father’s right hand,
above the Cherubim, as Only-begotten Son.

When ruling over Egypt, Joseph
having received authority against his enemies

his brothers were brought willingly
before the tribunal of the one who had died through them;

they were brought to prostrate with fear and trembling
before the one who had been sold by them to death;

and with fear they prostrated before Joseph,
whom they had not wanted to be king over them.

But Joseph, recognising his brothers,
revealed them as murderers by a single word;

but they, when they realised, stood dumbfounded
in great shame, not daring to utter,

not having anything at all to say in their defence,
knowing exactly their own sin

at the moment when they sold him;
while he, who seemed to have been destroyed by them in Hades,

was suddenly found to be ruling over them.

So too on that fearful day,
when the Lord comes on the clouds of the air,

he takes his seat on the throne of his kingdom,
and all his enemies are brought bound
by fearsome Angels before the judgement seat,

all those who did not want him to rule over them.

For the lawless Jews thought then,
that if he were crucified, he would die as a human;

the wretches not being persuaded that God had come,
for salvation, to save our souls.

Just as Joseph said quite openly
to his brothers, making them fear and tremble,

‘I am Joseph, whom you sold [into slavery],
but now I rule over you, though you did not want it’. [Cf. Gen 45:4]

So too the Lord shows the Cross
in an image formed of light to those who crucified him,

and they recognize the Cross itself
and the Son of God who was crucified by them.

Know how accurately Joseph became
a true type of his own Master.

+ St. Ephraim the Syrian, Excerpt from “Sermon on Joseph the Most Virtuous”, translation by Fr. Ephraim Lash
Read the full sermon at http://anastasis.org.uk/Joseph.pdf

St. Peter of Damaskos: If we are not willing to sacrifice this temporal life, or perhaps even the life to come, for the sake of our neighbor . . .

Icon of St. Peter of Damascus“God says, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might’ (Deut. 6:5); yet how much have the fathers said and written – and still say and write – without equaling what is contained in that single phrase? For, as St Basil the Great has said, to love God with all your soul means to love nothing together with God; for if someone loves his own soul, he loves God, not with all his soul, but only partially; and if we love ourselves and innumerable other things as well, how can we love God or dare to claim that we love Him? It is the same with love of one’s neighbor. If we are not willing to sacrifice this temporal life, or perhaps even the life to come, for the sake of our neighbor, as were Moses and St. Paul, how can we say that we love him? For Moses said to God concerning his people, ‘If Thou wilt forgive their sins, forgive; but if not, blot me as well out of the book of life which Thou hast written’ (Ex. 32:32 LXX); while St. Paul said, ‘For I could wish that I myself were severed from Christ for the sake of my brethren’ (Rom. 9:3). He prayed, that is to say, that he should perish in order that others might be saved — and these others were the Israelites who were seeking to kill him.”

+ St. Peter of Damaskos, “Book I: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge,” The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 3)

St. Maximus the Confessor: Inasmuch as you pray with all your soul for the one who has slandered you . . .

Icon of St. Maximos the Confessor“To the extent that you pray with all your soul for the person who slanders you, God will make the truth known to those who have been scandalized by the slander. ”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 4.89, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Mark the Ascetic: Whoever prays for those who hurt him . . .

Icon of St. Mark the Ascetic“Whoever prays for those who hurt him lays the demons low; but he who opposes his affronter is bound to the demons.”

+ St. Mark the Ascetic, “On the Spiritual Law: Two Hundred Texts” No. 45, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1)

St. Silouan the Athonite: . . . Induce your heart to love your enemies . . .

Icon of St. Silouan the Athonite“I ask you to try something. If someone grieves you, or dishonors you, or takes something of yours, then pray like this: “Lord, we are all your creatures. Pity your servants, and turn them to repentance,” and then you will perceptibly bear grace in your soul. Induce your heart to love your enemies, and the Lord, seeing your good will, shall help you in all things, and will Himself show you experience. But whoever thinks evil of his enemies does not have love for God and has not known God.”

+ St. Silouan the Athonite, Wisdom from Mount Athos: The Writings of Staretz Silouan, 1866-1938, IX.21

St. Mark the Ascetic: We must receive the one who curses us as a messenger from God . . .

Icon of St. Mark the Ascetic“We must receive the one who curses us as a messenger from God, rebuking our hidden evil thoughts, so that we, seeing our thoughts with exactness, might correct ourselves. For we do not know how many hidden evils we have; Only a perfect man can understand all of his own shortcomings.”

+ St. Mark the Ascetic, Homilies, 6

St. Maximus the Confessor: A soul that is nurtured by hatred toward man . . .

Icon of St. Maximos the Confessor“The deiform soul cannot nurse hatred against a man and yet be at peace with God, the giver of the commandments. ‘For’, He says, ‘if you do not forgive men their faults, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your faults’ (cf. Matt. 6:14-15). If your brother does not wish to live peaceably with you, nevertheless guard yourself against hatred, praying for him sincerely and not abusing him to anybody.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 4.35, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Silouan the Athonite: Whoever will not love his enemies . . .

Icon of St. Silouan the Athonite“Whoever will not love his enemies cannot know the Lord and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us to love our enemies in such way that we pity their souls as if they were our own children.”

+ St. Silouan the Athonite, Wisdom from Mount Athos: The Writings of Staretz Silouan, 1866-1938, I.11

St. Mark the Ascetic: When you have been insulted, cursed, or persecuted by someone . . .

Icon of St. Mark the Ascetic“When you have been insulted, cursed, or persecuted by someone, do not think of what has happened to you, but of what will come from it, and you will see that your insulter has become the cause of many benefits to you, not only in this age, but in that which is to come”

— St. Mark the Ascetic, Homilies, 1.114

St. Maximus the Confessor: If you are remembering evil against someone . . .

Icon of St. Maximos the Confessor“If you are remembering evil against someone, then pray for him; and as you remove through prayer the pain of the remembrance of the evil he has done, you will stop the advance of the passion. And when you have attained brotherly love and love for mankind, you will completely cast this passion out of your soul. Then when someone else does evil to you, be affectionate and humble toward him, and treat him kindly, and you will deliver him from this passion.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 3.90, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. Silouan: Christ prayed for those that crucified Him . . .

Icon of St. Silouan the Athonite“Christ prayed for those that crucified Him: ‘Father, count not this sin against them; they know not what they do.’ Archdeacon Stephen prayed for those who stoned him so that the Lord would not judge this sin against them. And so we, if we wish to retain grace, must pray for our enemies. If you do not find pity on a sinner who will suffer in flames, then you do not carry the grace of the Holy Spirit, but rather an evil spirit; and while you yet live, you must free yourself from his clutches through repentance.”

— St. Silouan the Athonite

St. Maximos the Confessor: When you are insulted by someone or humiliated . . .

Icon of St. Maximos the Confessor“When you are insulted by someone or humiliated, guard against angry thoughts, lest they arouse a feeling of irritation, and so cut you off from love and place you in the realm of hatred.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 1.29, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)

St. John of Kronstadt: Let others mock at you . . .

Photo of St. John of Kronstadt“Let others mock at you, oppose you, when you are under the influence of any passion; do not be in the least offended with those who mock at or oppose you, for they do you good; crucify your self-love and acknowledge the wrong, the error of your heart.

But have the deepest pity for those who mock at words and works of faith and piety, of righteousness; for those who oppose the good which you are doing, or which you wish to instill into others.

God preserve you from getting exasperated with them, for they are deserving of pity and tears. Glory to Thee, Lord, my Savior, for having delivered me at my prayer from the tyranny of the passions!”

— St. John of Kronstadt

St. Silouan: Holy Relics are the earthly remains of those . . .

Icon of St. Silouan the Athonite“Holy Relics are the earthly remains of those who have been taught by none other than Christ Himself to love their enemies even unto death, the death of the Cross, which is His glory, and which by grace becomes their glory too. Love for enemies is not a moral injunction, it is the fundamental criterion for the Christian way of life. This is Salvation.”

— St. Silouan the Athonite

St. Maximos the Confessor: In times of peaceful relationships . . .

Icon of St. Maximos the Confessor“In times of peaceful relationships do not recall what was said by a brother when there was bad feeling between you, even if offensive things were said to your face, or to another person about you and you subsequently heard of them. Otherwise you will harbor thoughts of rancor and revert to your destructive hatred of your brother.”

+ St. Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Texts on Love 4.34, The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 2)