Love For Neighbor is a Means of Attaining to Love For God

St. Barlaam of Khutyn, Novgorod

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


Holy and glorious Apostles, disciples called by God, teachers of the ecumene, all-wise and Spirit-bearing heralds of the Logos [Word], accept our prayer and intercede to the Lord on behalf of our souls.

Holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, who were the mystic and revealers of true wisdom, intercede with the Light-Giving Lord to rekindle the Light of the Paraklete also in our own souls, so that we may shake off spiritual indolence and restore the soundness of our mind.

Holy John, eagle of theology, beloved and visionary of the ineffable revelation and the divine mysteries, intercede to Christ, the Logos [Word] of God, that He may always manifest and reveal to us the Gospel of His Truth and His Holy Will.

Saints of God, Andrew and James, You who wiped out the darkness of idolatry with your inspired teaching, intercede to the Lord to dissolve also the darkness of contemporary idolatry, so that redeemed from error we may worship and glorify the All-Holy Trinity.

Divine disciples, Philip and Bartholomew, You who were clear-sounding trumpets of Christ, intercede to the Lord that we too may proclaim and preach the Commandments of the Savior Jesus Christ, without becoming disheartened by the difficulties of the world.

Saints Thomas and Matthew, You who became excellent servants of the Logos [Word] of God who appeared on earth, and of the faithful souls, intercede that we too may serve the Lord and our brothers and sisters in the spirit of true discipleship.

Rivers of the source of living water, Saints James and Thaddeus, You who irrigated with divine waters the desert land of God, irrigate again our souls that thirst for the truth and for salvation.

Spiritual shepherds and lambs of the Arch-Shepherd Christ, holy Apostles Simon and Mathias, intercede to the Lord that He may send out workers into his vineyard and produce zealous priests and shepherds for His Church. Amen.


On November 6th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Paul the Confessor, Archbishop of Constantinople; Saint Herman, Archbishop of Kazan; Synaxis of the New Martyrs of Sarov: Anatole, Basil, Hierotheos, Isaac, and Rufinus; New holy Martyr Gregory the Cross-bearer of Russia; Saint Luke of Taormina; Saint Winnocus, Abbot; Saint Luke of the Kiev Caves; Varlaam of Keret Lake; Saint Paul of Corinth, fool-for-Christ; holy Martyr Nicander; Commemoration of the falling of ash from the air.

BARLAAM OF KHUTYN, NOVGOROD. Saint Barlaam was raised a Christian in Novgorod. When his parents died, he became a monk. He was very strict with himself in his ascetic pursuits. A heavenly light illumined a site next to the Volkhov River, showing Barlaam where to build a Monastery. God granted him the gifts of healing sickness, driving out demons, and discerning the deepest secrets of men. Saint Barlaam died peacefully and was buried at the Monastery. A servant of the prince once fell seriously ill and asked to be taken to the Saint's grave, even if he died along the way. This happened, but when they arrived at the tomb, the servant returned to life, rose up, and made a prostration before the Saint. In the 15th century, Ivan the Terrible ordered that Saint Barlaam's holy relics be exhumed. When they began to dig, a great fire leaped from the grave and continued to burn along the church walls. The terrified Ivan fled, leaving his staff, which remains at the Monastery to this day. This miracle is commemorated each year.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.


Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 8:1-6
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 12:8-12


"Strive for peace with all men, and for holiness without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14), Why did he say "strive"? Because it is not possible for us to become holy and to be Saints in an hour! We must therefore progress from modest beginnings toward holiness and purity. Even were we to spend a thousand years in this life we should never perfectly attain it. Rather we must always struggle for it every day, as if mere beginners." [Saint Symeon the New Theologian]

by Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov) 1807-1867 [source: THE ARENA]

The Savior of the world summarized all His particular commands in two main, general commandments: "You are to love the Lord you God," He said, "with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great Commandment. And the second is like it: you are to love your neighbor as yourself. The whole of the law and the Prophets depends on these two Commandments." (Saint Matthew 22:37-40).

Although the commandment of love for God is as far superior to the commandment of love for God's image (man) as God is superior to His image, yet the commandment of love for our neighbor serves as a foundation for the commandment of love for God. He who has not laid the foundation labors in vain to construct a building; it cannot possibly stand without the foundation. By love for our neighbor we enter into love for God. A Christian's love for God is love for Christ (1 John 2:23), and love for our neighbor is love for Christ in our neighbor. By loving our neighbor--by loving him in the Lord, that is, as the Lord commands us--we acquire love for Christ, and love for Christ is love for God.

The union of love for God with love for our neighbor is superbly explained in the Epistles of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian. It is impossible to love God, according to Saint John's teaching, without first loving one's neighbor. And love for one's brother consists in carrying out the Lord's Commandment in this regard (2 John 1:6)

The same teaching is given by the holy directors of monasticism. Saint Antony the Great said: "On our neighbor depends life and death (of the soul). By winning our brother we win God; by offending our brother we sin against Christ." Saint John Kolovos, one of the greatest Fathers of the Egyptian skete, said: "It is not possible to build a house by beginning from the top, but the structure must be begun from the foundation and built up to the roof. When asked what the foundation meant, he replied: 'The foundation is our neighbor. We must win him and begin with him. On him are based all the Commandments of Christ.' Saint Mark the Ascetic said: 'It is impossible to be saved otherwise than through one's neighbor.'" This is what is held and taught by all the Holy Fathers; this is the general Christian teaching, the teaching of the Church, the teaching of Christ.

Direct all your attention to the acquisition of love for your neighbor as the basis of your life and your monastic task. Love your neighbor according to the dictates of the commandments of the Gospel, not at all according to the dictates and impulses of your heart. The love planted by God in our nature was damaged by the fall and cannot act correctly. On no account allow it to act! Its actions have lost their purity; they are abominable in God's sight, like a polluted sacrifice. The fruits of its actions are soul-destroying, deadly. Love your neighbor in the following way: Do not get angry with him and do not bear resentment or a grudge against him. Do not allow yourself to say to your neighbor any reproachful, abusive, sarcastic or caustic words. Maintain peace with him as far as possible. Humble yourself in his presence. Do not try to have your revenge on him directly or indirectly. Whenever possible, yield to him. Get out of the habit of arguing and quarrelling, and reject it as sign of pride and self-love. Speak well of those who speak evil of you. Pay good for evil. Pray for those who cause you various offences, wrongs, temptations, persecutions (St. Matthew 5:21-48). Whatever you do, on no account condemn anyone; do not even try to judge whether a person is good or bad, but keep your eyes on that one evil person for whom you must give an account before God--yourself (St. Matthew 7:11).

Treat your neighbor as you would like them to treat you (St. Matthew 7:1-12). Forgive and pardon men their offences against you from the depth of your heart, so that your heavenly Father may forgive you your countless offences, your terrible debt of sin that can easily cast you down and confine you for all eternity in the prisons of hell (St. Matthew 18:23-25).

Do not acquire attachment, especially impure passion, for your neighbor; by the term neighbor is meant not only the male but the female sex as well. If, however, you are wounded by a dart of the enemy and are somehow unexpectedly poisoned by it, do not despond, knowing that we have an inherent proneness to be infected by every kind of passion and that even great Saints suffered in this way. Make every effort and put all your energy into the healing of yourself.

Finally, do not harm your brother by talkativeness, gossip, close acquaintance and familiar conduct with him. If you avoid these pitfalls in regard to your neighbor, you will show and acquire for him the love commanded by God and pleasing to God; thereby you will open the way for yourself to the love God. Saint Symeon the New Theologian has said: "Do not acquire special love for any person, especially for novices, even though it may seem to you that that person's life is extremely good and above reproach. For spiritual love mostly changes into passionate love, and you will into unprofitable sufferings.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George