St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

On Forgiveness

A certain Christian man went to consult Abba Silouan.

"I have a deadly enemy, Father," he confessed. "The evils which he has brought upon me are innumerable. A short time ago he gained a large piece of my land by deceit. He slanders me wherever he is and he speaks ill of both me and my family. He has made my life unbearable. Now, finally, he is even plotting to take my life. A few days ago, I learned that he attempted to poison me. But he is not getting away with anything else. I have decided to hand him over to the law."

"Do as you like," Abba Silouan told him with indifference.

"Do you not think, Father, that when he is punished, and especially severely, as he should be, his soul will be saved?" asked the man, who was now beginning to show concern for the welfare of his enemy's soul.

"Do whatever gives you peace," the Saint continued to say, with the same air.

"I am going straight to the judge, then," the Christian said, getting up to leave.

"Do not hurry off so," the Saint told him calmly. "Let us first pray for God to bring success on your action."

He began the ‘Our Father.'

"And do not forgive us our trespasses, as we do not forgive those who trespass against us," he heard the Saint saying in a loud voice, as if making an error in this verse.

"You made an error, Abba. The Lord's Prayer is not said that way," the Christian hastened to correct him.

"Nevertheless, that is the way it is," the elder answered in all of his impassivity. "Inasmuch as you have decided to hand over your brother to the court, Silouan is offering no other prayer."

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From "The Ancient Fathers of the Desert"