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LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

BUT I SAY TO YOU THAT HEAR, LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO HATE YOU. —LUKE 6:2.7 When you are in love you find yourself looking at everyone with new eyes; you become generous, forgiving, kindhearted, where before you might have been hard and mean. Inevitably people begin reacting to you in the same way and soon you find yourself living in a loving world that you yourself have created. Or think of

The Dignity to Give and Receive

The Dignity to Give and Receive Nobody is so poor that he or she has nothing to give, and nobody is so rich that he or she has nothing to receive.” These words by Pope John Paul II offer a powerful direction for all who want to work for peace. No peace is thinkable as long as the world remains divided into two groups: those who give and those who receive. Real human dignity is

NO LOOKING BACK (Part II)

NO ONE WHO PUTS HIS HAND TO THE PLOW AND LOOKS BACK IS FIT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.—LUKE 9:62 Attachment—how is an attachment formed? First comes the contact with something that gives you pleasure: a car, an attractively advertised modern appliance, a word of praise, a person’s company. Then comes the desire to hold on to it, to repeat the gratifying sensation that this thing or person caused you. Finally comes the conviction that

NO LOOKING BACK (Part I)

NO ONE WHO PUTS HIS HAND TO THE PLOW AND LOOKS BACK IS FIT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD.—LUKE 9:62 God’s kingdom is love. What does it mean to love? It means to be sensitive to life, to things, to persons, to feel for everything and everyone to the exclusion of nothing and no one. For exclusion can only be achieved through a hardening of oneself, through closing one’s doors. And the moment there is

Members of One another (Part V)

What of the demons? Might they also be saved, and in that case should we not pray also for them? St Isaac the Syrian, as already noted, affirms that the merciful heart is ‘on fire’ with compassion for the demons, but he does not actually say that we should pray for them. St Silouan speaks in similar terms. We are to ‘pity’ the demons, but nothing is stated about intercession on their behalf: The Spirit

Members of one another (Part IV)

For St Silouan, as we have seen from his conversation with the dour hermit, this love for our fellow-humans includes even hell within its scope. Expounding the teaching of the Starets, Fr Sophrony writes: Dwelling in heaven, the Saints behold hell and embrace it too in their love. This is possible for them, because the love that is at work in their hearts is nothing else than the love of God Himself; and God’s love

Love One Another

THIS IS MY COMMANDMENT, THAT YOU LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU. —JOHN 15:12 What is love? Take a look at a rose. Is it possible for the rose to say, “I shall offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people?” Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks to walk in its light? It could only do that by ceasing

Members of One Another (Part III)

‘My soul longs for the whole world to be saved…. Divine love desires the salvation of all…. The Lord’s is such that He would have all men to be saved…. Our one thought must be that all should be saved…. The merciful Lord sometimes gives the soul peace in God but sometimes makes the heart ache for the whole universe, that all men might repent and enter paradise. According to St Silouan, this burning desire

Members of One Another (Part I)

‘Love all creation,’ says Starets Zosima in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov: ‘Love all creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand within it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.’ This ‘divine mystery’ of which Starets Zosima speaks is precisely the interdependence, the reciprocal coinherence, of all created things in

Sacred Being, Self-Knowledge, Friendship

Claiming the Sacredness of Our Being Are we friends with ourselves? Do we love who we are? These are important questions because we cannot develop good friendships with others unless we have befriended ourselves. How then do we befriend ourselves? We have to start by acknowledging the truth of ourselves. We are beautiful but also limited, rich but also poor, generous but also worried about our security. Yet beyond all that we are people with