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November 13, 2013 + On Relations with One’s Neighbors, Part 2

by St. Ambrose, Elder of Optina, translated from Optinskii Tsvetnik: Izrecheniia prepodobnykh starttsev Optinskikh (Moscow: St. Tikhon's Orthodox University, 2008), 221-228,

On Relations with One’s Neighbors, Part 1

10. Just as one pot bumps up against another pot, how much more does it happen that people living together bump up against one another. This comes about especially when people have different viewpoints about things: one thinks about one thing one way, while another thinks another way; one is convinced in his own ideas, which seem solid and fundamental to him, while another believes in his own understandings.

11. People look at the visible, but the Lord sees the inner arrangement of man and the actions of his conscience, both in relation to others and in relation to himself. When we cannot bring benefit to others for some reason, then let us at least work for our own spiritual benefit.

12. Although it is difficult and very insulting to suffer unfair opposition from people who should be defending the truth – not little people, but great and elevated ones – we will take comfort in the unprejudiced judgment of the One Judge of the living and the dead.

13. He who gives way receives three ounces and a half , but he who insists on his rights receives only one ounce, and sometimes not even one, when he gets upset and upsets another.

14. In the spiritual life it is an altogether good thing to explain oneself punctually and prudently, and to ask forgiveness punctually, so as to bring peace to one's soul and give occasion for others to do the same.

15. Each of us ought to work more on himself, on his own soul, and for his own spiritual benefit, because, according to the words of the Apostle, each of us will give account of ourselves to God. We are confused by the fact that we are more inclined to chastise others, striving not only to convince but also to dissuade, and to make a demonstration by many different arguments.

16. When we are reproached and blamed for that of which we are entirely innocent, then we must turn our thoughts to those occasions when we were guilty before God or before people, and for the attainment of forgiveness of our sins we must forgive the unfairness and offences inflicted on us by our neighbors.

17. I will say this briefly. Contrive to acquire life and avoid death, living with those with whom one is living, and trying to have that which the Apostle commands: i.e., goodness, mercy, compassion, and love, which is the fulfillment of the law. How? Listen to the same Apostle: Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).


St. John Chrysostom the Archbishop of Constantinople

Troparion, Tone 8

Grace shining forth from your lips like a beacon has enlightened the universe. It has shown to the world the riches of poverty; it has revealed to us the heights of humility. Teaching us by your words, O Father John Chrysostom, intercede before the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls!

Kontakion, Tone 6

Having received divine grace from heaven, with your mouth you teach all men to worship one God in Trinity. All-blest and venerable John Chrysostom, we worthily praise you, for you are our teacher, revealing things divine!