October 17, 2021
It seems that we naturally migrate towards like-minded people. At an early age when we strayed away from our support peers we felt out of place or someone would notice our differences and make a comment or an unfriendly glance. It sure is safe and warm when we find ourselves nestled in our bed of comfort with our peeps!
Back in the late 70’s at my high school we had groups or clics of like minded people. We had the jocks, the preps, the snobs and the stonies and so on. I was in the band, although on the much cooler spectrum of that clic! I played the bari-sax in marching and concert band. Mr. Gonano also included me in the stage band. The bari-sax was big and heavy and did not fit on the school bus, which limited my practice time at home. However Mr. G had after school practices very frequently which explains how we won so many competitions.
Within the corral of my mind, certain personality people played certain instruments. They had their own group within the confines of the larger group of band members. Yet, when we all came together in some kind of harmony and under careful direction, our music was might near flawless and moving. We worked together and had the same goal. Our differences made us complete. In that setting it was not about our individuality, but about achieving the same goal which usually meant a trophy or an award or at the very least an “A” on my report card amongst a loud chorus of “C’s”! If nothing else, we identified with our school mascot. We were the “Patriots” and I am still am!
Our Lord instructs us in Luke 6 to spend time out of our clic or comfort zone: “And if ye should love those who love you, what kind of thanks is there to you? For even the sinners love those who love them. [Lk. 6:32] Instead of noticing differences in people and sheltering within our fortress of contentment, we need to be looking for our next opportunity to help someone. And then our Lord goes on to say: “Therefore keep on becoming compassionate, even as your Father also is compassionate. [Lk. 6:36]
Just how do we love our enemies and forgive those you harm us? St. Silouan teaches us that at least we must not hate our enemies curse them or snub them, but we should refuse thoughts of anger against them. In that way at least progress is made towards love. For St. Silouan, in love of our enemies one supposes that they forgive them their offenses and pray for them. Yet forgiving is not yet loving; prayer can precede love and not yet be a manifestation of love: “When I was still in the world I liked to forgive with all my heart,” he said. “I forgave easily and I liked to pray for those who had offended me, but when I came to the monastery, while I was still a novice, I received a great grace and it taught me to love my enemies.”
St. Silouan goes on to explain: “The Lord teaches us to love enemies in such a way that we will feel compassion for them as for our own children.” We must, says the Saint, be compassionate not only for our own enemies and the enemies of truth, but for the demons who suffer infernal pains for turning away from God and denying Him in their voluntary denial of heavenly goods, their refusal to love God and to be loved by Him. “Taught by the Holy Spirit, one will feel compassion even for demons for they are separated from goodness, they have lost humility and God’s love.”
“The Spirit of God teaches us to love all that exists, and the soul feels compassion for each being, and also loves enemies and pities demons, because in their fall they were detached from the good.”
Compassion makes no exceptions! “There are people who wish damnation and the torments in the fire of hell for their enemies or enemies of the Church. They think in this way because they haven’t learned from the Holy Spirit to love God. He who has learned love, weeps for the whole world. You say: ‘Let him burn in the fire of hell!’ But I ask you: ‘If God gave you a good place in Paradise and that from there you could see in the fire the man to whom you wished this torment, wouldn’t you feel pity for him, whoever he is, even if he is an enemy to the Church?’ Or do you have a heart of metal?” “We must only have one thought,” says St. Silouan, “that all be saved.”(1)
It simply begins and ends with prayer! Practice, practice, practice! Prayer is the peaceful harmony you all are seeking!
Glory to Thee who has shown us the Light!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 10-17-2021
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