March 11, 2013
God has commanded us to put an end to our quarrels and strife and to forgive insults not because He needs these things, but because they are beneficial to us. Whoever forgives his neighbor’s sins will himself receive pardon from God according to the promise of the Savior, and how many sins we have before God! What fear should come over us when we remember that we will have to answer for all of them at the Day of Judgment! To our great shame, all our dark deeds will be revealed to the universe at the terrible Judgment of God. Then we will not be able to expiate them in any way. However, now the Savior is offering us an easy way to erase all our sins: “Forgive, and you shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). Forgive from your heart the small sins of your brother against you, and you will receive pardon for all your countless sins before God! Is there anything better and more favorable than this? If love for God and His holy commandments cannot make us forgive, then let us forgive for our own interest at least! But alas, often not only the high motives of disinterested virtue, but even the insistent calls of our own interest are not able to induce us to forgive. Our spitefulness has blinded us so that it has made us our own greatest enemy. In strife we are going against God with open eyes; we aim the blade of our spite at our own heart; we poison our health; and we ourselves seek eternal doom for our soul. Is there anything more foolish than this?
How good it is to forgive! The soul feels so light and pleasant afterwards! One feels such a tenderness after having forgiven that he is ready to embrace the whole world, to start loving everyone and to forgive everything. At that, it is not difficult to forgive; a little courage of the soul and some mercy of the heart are all that is required for the purpose. Numb your pride, and it will be easy to forgive your neighbor! Drive away the hatred from your heart, and you will win the love of your brother! Defeat spite, that enemy of yours, in your soul, and you will make a friend out of your enemy. When you overcome in this way the enemy within you, you will disarm the enemy without as well. It is not required of you to give anything to the person with whom your have quarreled. Only forgive him from your heart! For such forgiveness, God will not only forgive your own innumerable sins, but He will also present you with the most precious of all treasures—the Kingdom of Heaven, the eternal joy of Paradise!
Taken from Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev, The Meaning of Suffering and Strife and Reconciliation, trans. Ralitsa Doynova, vol. II and III, The Spiritual Writings of Archimandrite Seraphim Aleksiev (Wildwood, California: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood / St. Xenia Skete, 1994), pp. 93-4. This excerpt is posted with the blessing of the superior of St. Xenia Skete. You can help support the sisterhood of St. Xenia Skete by purchasing a copy of the work from St. Herman Press. (Please note that St. Herman Press is not affiliated with the Hermitage of the Holy Cross.)
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Let us come to ourselves like the prodigal; let us, like him, speak firm words of resolve to our own souls: “I will arise and go to my Father”; and the Gracious God will perfect our small intention.
He knows that we do not know the way to Him, or the manner in which to traverse it; but, hearing us say: “Ready is my heart, O God, ready is my heart”, and seeing us begin our journey towards Him, He will then rush out to us, falling on us, and kissing our neck: He will send His All-Accomplishing Holy Spirit upon us, and guide us into all truth, not only in our understanding, but in all our deeds, all our life.
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