Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.

8/15/2006

Bless my enemies

click here for a New York Times article on the truce

"I say, love your enemies!
Pray for those who persecute you!
In that way, you will be acting as true children
of your Father in heaven."
Jesus Christ
—Matthew 5:44-45a (New Living Translation)

In Israel and Lebanon an uneasy truce continues. We continue to pray for the Middle East and the peace of Jerusalem, knowing that Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies as well as those we love.

Here at home, we have those in our lives who we wouldn't classify as enemies but who wreck our days nonetheless. In the archives is the Tribune & Georgian religion column Bless My Enemies, Change Me which has proved quite meaningful to a number of people over time as the prayer within the column really makes a difference.

There is also the following prayer written by Nikolai Velimirovic (1880-1956), a Bishop in the Serb Orthodox Church:
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 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 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.

1 Comments:

  • At 8/16/2006 10:49 AM, Blogger November In My Soul said…

    I think the Orthodox Bishop has tapped into a very deep Christian truth. The essence of the Gospel is that we forgive and love. In learning to love our enemies we purify ourselves, an essential process of the Orthodox belief in deification. By emulating Christ, (who surely loved his myriad enemies)we become like Him. This post really gave me pause as I realized how contrary this wisdom is to the view espoused by our culture. We are bombarded with the message that it is OK to seek revenge, to carry grudges and to withold forgiveness. The more difficult path is to let it go, to embrace those who will not embrace us. Are we really capable of loving Timothy McVeigh? The 9/11 bombers?

     

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