by Andrea Elizabeth
“Love for our enemies is the highest degree of love for our neighbor ordained by the gospel. He who has attained love for his enemies has attained perfection in the matter of love for his neighbor, and to him the gates of love for God have opened automatically. All obstacles have been removed. The eternal gates and bars have sagged and opened. The ascetic no longer criticizes his neighbour; he had forgiven him all his sins. Now he only prays for him as for a fellow member belonging to one body. Now he has acknowledged and confessed that all the troubles that the servant of God encounters are permitted by the nod of God. Now he has submitted to the will of God in all circumstances, both particular and general, and therefore as a beloved confidant and intimate friend of holy peace, as one who has carried out all that God has commanded regarding his neighbor, he enters with freedom into the embraces of Divine Love. The ascetic could never have attained this unless he had been subjected to various temptations from men, and on account of his temptations had vomited out of himself, as if from the action of a purgative medicine, all the malice and pride with which fallen nature was infected.”
– The Arena by St. Ignaty Brianchaninov
I usually read too much into this teaching and switch it to mean that to forgive is to be an intimate friend of your enemy. Not so.