“… and do not forgive us our trespasses…”

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One brother from Libya came to Abba Silouan, at Mount Panepho, and told him:

Abba, I have an enemy who did many evils to me. He trampled upon my field, when I was still in the world, and many times he planned to harm me. Now, furthermore, he put poisons to poison me. So I intend to hand him over to the ruler (for him to be punished).

“Do, my child, as comforts you,” the elder said.

“There is no doubt, Abba, that if he is punished, his soul will be greatly benefited,” the brother added.

“Do as you think, my child,” the elder said again.

“Get up then, father, so that we can pray, and then I am leaving for the ruler,” the brother said. So they got up and began praying. However as soon as they arrived at the phrase (of the Lord’s Prayer) “and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12), the elder said: “and do not forgive us our trespasses as neither do we forgive those who trespass against us…”

“Not like that, father,” the brother interrupted the elder.

“Yes, my child, that way,” the elder answered. “If you truly want to go to the ruler to realize your revenge, Silouan will not do another prayer for you.”

The brother then did a prostration and forgave his enemy.

1-1

Another brother, who was treated unjustly by some other one, came to Abba Sisoes and told him:

“I was treated unjustly by a brother and I want to pay it back to him.”

The elder was asking him to change his mind and was telling him:

“No, my child! Better leave the retribution to God.”

But the brother insisted:

“I will not calm down, until I take revenge.”

Then the elder suggested to him:

“Let’s pray, brother.”

So they got up and, as they were praying, the elder said:

“My God, we no longer have any need for you to care for us, because we are taking revenge on our own!”

As soon as the brother heard this, he fell at the elder’s feet and said:

“I am no longer opposing the brother, Abba, forgive me!”

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Some brothers were visiting a holy elder, who was living in a desert place, and they found a few children outside of a cell, who were grazing their animals and were saying ugly words. So after they confessed to him their thoughts and were benefited by his wisdom, they asked him:

“How can you put up, Abba, with these children, won’t you tell them to not say lewd words?”

“Truly, brethren”, answered the elder, “it’s days now that I want to tell it to them, but (every time I decide it), I immediately criticize myself, as I think: “if I cannot suffer this here little difficulty, how will I endure, if some great trial finds me? So for this reason I don’t tell them anything, so that I am able to forbear those things which will come to me.”

A certain brother told an elder:

“I want to martyr for God. And the elder answered him:

“If, in a difficult circumstance, one forbears his neighbor, he does something equally worthy to the martyrdom of the Three Children in the furnace.”

 

From the Monthly Bulletin “Orthodox Witness” of Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral,January 2013