Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More from St. Silouan on Love of Enemies

I find these thoughts very helpful and worth practicing. I don't know why I didn't see it so clearly before. Love of enemies, forgiveness, prayer--all help one to suffer for the love of God.

Now for what St. Silouan says:

Christ prayed for those who were crucifying Him: 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' St. Stephen prayed for those who stoned him, tha tthe Lord 'lay not this sin to their charge.' And we, if we wish to preserve grace, must pray for our enemies. If you do not feel pity for the sinner destined to suffer the pains of fire, it means that the grace of the Holy Spirit is not in you, but an evil spirit lives in you. While you are still alive, strive by repentance to free yourself from this spirit.

The Lord taught me to love my enemies. Without the grace of God we cannot love our enemies, but the Holy Spirit teaches love, and then even devils rouse our pity because they have fallen from good, and lost humility and love of God.

I beseech you, put this to the test. When a man affronts you or brings dishonour on your head, or takes what is yours, or persecutes the Church, pray to the Lord, and say: 'O Lord, we are all Thy creatures. Have pity on Thy servants, and turn their hearts to repentance,' and you will be aware of grace in your soul. To begin with, constrain your heart to love her enemies, adn the Lord, seeing your good will, will help you in all things, and experience itself will show you the way. But the man who thinks with malice of his enemies has not God's love within him and does not know God.

If you pray for your enemies, peace will come to you; but when you come to love your enemies--know that a great measure of the grace of God dwells in you, though I do not say perfect grace as yet, but sufficient for salvation. Whereas if you revile your enemies it means there is an evil spirit living in you and bringing evil thoughts into your heart, for, in the words of the Lord, out of the heart proceed evil thoughts or good thoughts.

If you cannot love, then at least do not revile and curse your enemies, and things will already be better; but if a man curse and abuse his enemies it is plain that an evil spirit abides in him, and when he dies he will go to the abode of evil spirits. May the Lord preserve every soul from such adversity!

Understand me. It is so simple. People who do not know God, or who go against Him, are to be pitied: the heart sorrows for them and the eye weeps. Both paradise and torment are clearly visible to us: we know them through the Holy Spirit. And did not the Lord Himself say: 'The Kingdom of God is within you'? Thus eternal life has its beginnings here in this life; and here it is that we sow the seeds of eternal torment.

where there is pride there cannot be grace, and if we lose grace we also lose both love of God and assurance in prayer. The soul is then tormented by evil thoughts and does not understand that she must humble herself and love her enemies, for there is no other way to please God....

The Lord gave us the commandment 'Love your enemies.' But how are we to love them when they do us evil? Or how can we love those who persecute the Holy Church?

When the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem and the Samaritans did not receive Him, His disciples John and James were ready to call down fire from heaven to consume them; but the Lord in His mercy said: 'I am not come to destroy but to save'. Thus should we have but one thought: that all should be saved. The soul sorrows for her enemies and prays for them because they have strayed from the truth and their faces are set towards hell. That is love for our enemies. When Judas bethought him to betray the Lord, the Lord was stirred to pity and showed him what he was doing. Thus must we too be gentle with those who err and stray, and we shall be saved by God's mercy.

Now, these words are most helpful to victim souls of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They are helpful to any soul! Just today I had a test that I failed, but the Lord in His mercy showed me how He wanted me to act, otherwise.

At early Mass I was surprised that a priest who has been away, was back. This one preaches in erratic words at times, and is known for some new age ideologies. His intentions are good, but others too have reported the errant thoughts in homilies and in confession. When I saw him, I decided it was best to leave and simply return for a later Mass. Why risk it? I also prayed about it during the morning, wondering if the Lord was showing me a kind of "enemy"--even though I felt peaceful toward this man.

At noon Mass, who should walk from the sacristy to celebrate the Mass? This very same priest! It is a rare instance that the same priest would celebrate two Masses in the same day. So I knew to remain, and to simply be recollected in prayer. The Lord had chosen what He desired, and then here are St. Silouan's words, as well. I am to sorrow if and when this one speaks ideas which are not thought out and prepared, when he talks in a manner of not realizing what he is saying, and veers into saying that which is not orthodox. I am to pray for him, and even though he is not an "enemy" per se, and he does not intend wrong, he at times has strayed from the truth. Rather than leave, I must remain and pray, and be stirred to pity and be gentle. If what is said is too far off, then I may gently question; if he cannot explain himself, then I may discuss it with his superior (as I and others have done in the past).

Yes, it is sorrowful when people veer from the narrow path, when off-kilter books or teachings have come into their minds--or passion takes over when speaking or thinking, causing slips and slides. It is a kind of suffering to bear with them during these times when what is said would be better not said, or said in a different way, or the ideologies abandoned altogether. Perhaps it is a sense of feeling one is inspired, when it is instead a matter of emotive repetition. Sometimes one lights upon truths and repeats those; othertimes a mistaken thought is struck and hammered out--without means of later correcting, for one often does not even know what is being said.

I ought to know how this is, for so have I have slipped and slid at times--perhaps more than I realize! I also recall times when I have been gently corrected and have had pity shown for my errors.


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