St. Silouan and Love for Enemies

The following is from the writings of St. Silouan, published in Elder Sophrony’s St. Silouan the Athonite.

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The grace of God is not in the man who does not love his enemies.

O merciful Lord, by Thy Holy Spirit teach us to love our enemies, and to pray for them with tears.

O Lord, send down Thy Holy Spirit on earth that all nations may know Thee, and learn Thy love.

O Lord, as Thou Thyself didst pray for Thine enemies, so teach us, too, by Thy Holy Spirit, to love our enemies.

O Lord, all peoples are the work of Thy hands- turn them from enmity and malice to repentance, that all may know Thy love.

O Lord, Thou didst command us to love our enemies, but it is hard for us sinners, if Thy grace be not with us.

O Lord, pour down Thy grace on the earth. Let all the nations of the earth come to know Thy love; to know that Thou lovest us with a mother’s love, and more than a mother’s love for a mother may be forgetful of her children, but Thou forgettest never, because Thy love for Thy creation is boundless, and love cannot forget.

O merciful Lord, by the riches of Thy mercy save all peoples.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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16 responses to “St. Silouan and Love for Enemies”

  1. Lucias Avatar

    How true. I tried to explain this to my young daughter at the beach recently, when a boy had stolen a cheap shovel that belonged to her. Pray for him and feel sorry for him. Because if his parents do not correct him and if he doesn’t learn from this he will have a very hard life indeed as a young man. He will face prison if he doesn’t mend his ways.

    And harder still is it when the one you pray for with tears, who has set themselves against you and ones you love is also one you love. To pray for one you love, who is for practical purpose an enemy, yet to love them, and yet because you also love others who have done no wrong to be unable to partake of association with them.

  2. Harlemite Avatar

    May God give us all strength to follow in the footsteps holy St. Silouan.

  3. chriself Avatar
    chriself

    What a timely post this is with some things going on in my life. I will take solace in meditating on this prayer…a comfort to know I’m not the only one dealing with such things as enemies, as well as a gentle reminder as to what we’re all called to as followers of Christ. Thank you.

  4. Epiphanist Avatar

    Is the devil our enemy?

  5. fatherstephen Avatar

    Epiphanist,

    Yes, indeed he is called “the enemy.” There are instances, not to scandalize anyone, in which some very great monastics have been known even to pray God’s mercies for the demons. Christ Himself showed mercy on the demons who asked to enter the swine (though it seems to have done them no good, nor benefitted the swine). The general teaching of the Church would discourage such prayer, and there are no prayers written for use in Church that pray for any such thing. As I noted, there are a few extreme instances that traditionally are not judged incorrect exactly, though the Church more or less puts a fence around those instances with an acknowledgement that sometimes great saints may engage in great spiritual exploits that would destroy others. I would never counsel anyone to engage in prayer for “the enemy.” However, for our other enemies, we are commanded to pray.

  6. shevaberakhot Avatar

    Epiphanist:

    The devil is the enemy of God, and those who count themselves as children of God, also count the devil as an adversary.

    I would like to assure you that the devil is a very real, through purely transcendent being. He possesses personality traits we normally associate with wickedness and evil, only, distilled to the nth degree.

    Where he is, sin abounds and he is revealed, by default and in his person, upon the appearance of Jesus Christ, who returns in majesty and glory to judge the living and the dead, and to reward the righteous.

    He is the anti-thesis of the only begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ and there are no grey areas at all.

  7. fatherstephen Avatar

    Shevaberakhot,

    I certainly did not mean to communicate a sense of “grey areas” but the description of the rare practice of some few saints is accurate. It is not offered here as a model – but simply correct information. It belongs to the fullness of the Orthodox Christian faith – even though, as I said, I would never even suggest that a person view the “enemy” as anything other than our adversary. The teaching of the Church is that he and his minions will suffer eternal torment. I think it would be incorrect to describe an angel (fallen or unfallen) as a “purely transcendent being.” God alone is truly transcendent. Angels of all kinds are finite.

  8. Katia Avatar
    Katia

    Father Bless,

    I wonder if you can help me to understand Psalm 138 where it says:

    “…As for them that hate Thee, O Lord, have i not hated them? And because of Thine enemies have i not pined away?

    With perfect hatred have i hated them; they are reckoned enemies with me.”

    I think it’s the devil i should hate but what about when people hate God? This is every time when i read the psalm i can not stop asking this question. I would appreciate your help.

    With love in Christ

  9. fatherstephen Avatar

    According to the Fathers it is referring to the devils or to our own passions. Not to other people, even if they hate God.

  10. Katia Avatar
    Katia

    Thank you Father

  11. Stefanel Radu Avatar
    Stefanel Radu

    Hello
    St Siluan has written a dissertation regarding the love of enemies whereby the saint indicates there are 26 steps involved. I have the text in Romanian but I cannot locate any English translation of it or its original source. Does anyone know where I could find an English version of the 26-step ladder of St Siluan that describes the various steps towards the love of enemies?
    In Christ
    Stefanel

  12. fatherstephen Avatar

    Very good question, Stefanel. I’m not aware of it myself, but I’ll see what I can find.

  13. Stefanel Avatar
    Stefanel

    Give a blessing Father Stephen!
    I found an English translation of the text regarding the 26 steps leading to a fully blossomed love of the enemy according to St Silouan (see the link below). The French Orthodox scholar and author Jean-Claude Larchet wrote a book about St Silouan called “Saint Silouane de l’Athos, Cerf, Paris, 2001, ISBN 2-204-06543-9.” available at present only in French, Italian and Romanian. It was in this book where I came accross for the first time about this 26-step “ladder” of St Silouan leading to genuine love of the enemy.
    In Christ
    Stefanel

    http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/jim_forest/love.htm

  14. Stefanel Avatar
    Stefanel

    and in case the compuserve link is not working, you can also find the text here:

    http://www.saintseraphim.com/information/?page=article8&sub=a

  15. Nooshig Avatar
    Nooshig

    Thank you Stefanel. I pray for many blessings for you and your family! Hope all is safe, healthy and happy!

  16. markbasil Avatar

    Glory to God for all things!
    Hello Stefanel, and Nooshig.
    I would like to read this but *neither* of your links are calling it up!
    In the hopes that you are somehow going to find this comment, please if possible provide access to this gift from St Silouan.

    Love;
    -Mark Basil

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