November 6, 2013 + On Relations with One’s Neighbors, Part 1
by St. Ambrose, Elder of Optina, translated from Optinskii Tsvetnik: Izrecheniia prepodobnykh starttsev Optinskikh (Moscow: St. Tikhon's Orthodox University, 2008), 221-228, www.pravmir.com/on-relations-with-ones-neighbors/.
1. The Lord nowhere wishes to compel man against his will, but everywhere makes use of our good will; it is through their own will that people are either good or evil. Therefore it is in vain that we accuse those living with us and surrounding us of hindering and impeding, as it were, our salvation or our spiritual perfection.
2. We receive profit from people only when we do not condemn them.
3. You complain about people's unfairness in relation to you. But if you are striving to reign with Christ the Lord, then have a look at Him, how He acted towards the enemies surrounding Him who were demanding His death. It appears that He never complained about how His enemies behaved unfairly towards Him but, in all the horrible afflictions brought upon Him by His enemies, He saw only the will of His Heavenly Father.
4. You are upset that everyone is trying to humiliate you. If they are trying to humiliate you, that means they want to humble you; and you yourself are asking God for humility. Then why, after all this, do you let people upset?
5. Instruction and edification for one's own life should be taken more from the example of Christ the Savior than from the example of people, in whom it is not possible to find full perfection, due to human weakness. Therefore we should not be upset, under a seemingly good pretext, when certain people do not give us the edifying example that we would have liked.
6. The Lord has the power to protect and defend those forcing themselves to live according to His holy commandments, if only they are not being careless in striving for mutual peace. Then the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, and joy in life is found in mutual harmony, and every good success is achieved through peace according to God.
7. Seeing someone's unfair action, rather than become irritated out of resentment, you must use wisdom to attain your purpose – if not in everything, then at least in that which is most important, or in whatever is possible.
8. Denunciations should take the middle way: one should neither wholly trust them nor entirely reject them, but await how the matter turns out.
9. We should not think that we can make somebody happy or successful. This belongs only to God and a person's own will, if he abides prudently before his Creator.
Troparion, Tone 3
For confessing the divine faith, among her priests the Church has shown you to be another Paul. Abel cries out to the Lord together with you, as does the righteous blood of Zachariah. Venerable father, entreat Christ God to grant us His great mercy.
Kontakion, Tone 4
Paul, you shone on the earth like a star of heavenly splendor; now you enlighten the universal Church for which you suffered, for you laid down your life, and your blood cries out to the Lord like that of Zachariah and Abel.