August 11, 2012

"Lord, Bless My Enemies"

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

How can we overcome the enmity of our enemies? By renunciation, meekness and prayer. Renunciation in everything, except in faith and purity of life, meekness and prayer, always and always. St. Ambrose writes: "This is the weapon of the righteous ones, that in retreating they conquer, just as the skillful archers have the custom that by fleeing, they shoot those stronger than themselves."

A brother was offended by his friend but, nevertheless, desiring peace with him, went to him to be reconciled. However, his friend did not even want to open the door for him and scolding him from within, chased him away from his house. The brother then complained to a spiritual father who said to him: "Going to your friend to be reconciled, all along the way, you condemned him in your thoughts and justified yourself. I counsel you, even though your friend sinned against you, establish the thought in yourself that you have sinned against him and, in this manner, go to him and in your thoughts justify him and condemn yourself." Thus, the brother proceeded. And what happened? Just as the brother approached the house of his friend, he opened wide the door, ran up to him and embraced the offended brother and made peace with him.

1. "Lord, Bless My Enemies": A Prayer

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

Enemies have driven me into Thy 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 Thy 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 Thy 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 Thee 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.


2. Prayer for Enemies

Lord Jesus Christ,

Who didst command us to love our enemies,

and those who defame and injure us,

and to pray for them and forgive them;

Who Thyself didst pray for Thine enemies,

who crucified Thee:

grant us, we pray,

the spirit of Christian reconciliation and meekness,

that we may heartily forgive every injury

and be reconciled with our enemies.

Grant us to overcome the malevolence and offences of people

with Christian meekness and true love of our neighbor.

We further beseech Thee,

O Lord, to grant to our enemies true peace and forgiveness of sins;

and do not allow them to leave this life without true faith and sincere conversion.

And help us repay evil with goodness,

and to remain safe from the temptations of the devil and from all the perils which threaten us,

in the form of visible and invisible enemies.