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St. NikodemosYou are to place accusers and slanderers under a rule, Spiritual Father, to return to the same place where they made the accusation and to say that they falsely accused their brother. Or if they do not themselves go, they should send a third person to confess that they lied. Or they should send a letter, openly or in secret, retracting their slander.

    You are to place rancorous people and those who have animosity toward someone under a rule to make reconciliation between them.

    Be very careful, Spiritual Father, also not to read the prayer of forgiveness for those who are rancorous, before they make reconciliation. And say the following so that they may be reconciled: that the Holy Spirit says of them: ‘The ways of those that remember injuries lead to death” (Pr. 12:28), and again: “He that remembers injuries is a transgressor” (Pr. 21:24). And John the Theologian says: “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer” (1 Jn. 3:15). Tell the rancorous that if they do not forgive their enemy, they cannot say the ‘Our Father’, because they do not forgive those who trespass against them, as is said in the ‘Our Father’. Tell them that God demands what He is owed with torments, especially from those who have received forgiveness for their sins from Him, according to the parable of the servant who owed one thousand talents (Mt. 18:23-35). Tell them that the requirement of the commandment of love compels them not to only not seek revenge, but also not to hate their neighbor at all, not even in thought: ‘Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart” (Lev. 19:17), and tell them that when they make peace with their enemy, their heart will be alleviated.

    Relate to them, Spiritual Father, the example of the Lord, how He made supplications for His crucifiers while He was on the Cross; the example of the Protomartyr Stephen, who made supplications for those who were stoning him. Relate that fearful story of the two rancorous people who, because they did not forgive from the heart, but held onto a grudge even after death, the dead person came from Hades and snatched his living enemy out of the Church in the presence of the people; then the earth split open and both of them descended into Hades, just as the sacred preacher Prokopios tells it in his teachings (p. 78). Relate to them how St. Ambrose was giving perpetual alms to a certain thief who had tried to kill him; how a certain virtuous woman drained the pus from the breast of a wounded woman who had slandered her. Tell them how even the gentiles did not hold on to grudges, like Lykourgos, who was blinded by Alkandros, and not only did he not seek revenge, but even dined with him at the same table. Demonax, when he was struck in the face by someone with a rock, and everyone was shouting, Out of their love for him, “To the judge! To the judge!’ and Demonax on the contrary said, “No, men; rather, to the doctor!’ Pericles, when he was being sworn at by someone all day, that night led the reviler to his home with a lantern. Finally, Spiritual Father, you should advise the one who began the strife to go and prostrate himself many times before the one whom he scandalized until he forgives him, as the divine Chrysostom says: Let no one tell me that he has made overtures once and a second time but his enemy has not come round: if we approach this with unmixed motives, we will not give up before we prevail through intense supplication, and thus win him over and turn him from his hostility to us” (On Genesis, Homily 27, 8, PG 53, 251; tr. Saint John Chrysostom: Homilies on Genesis 1& 45, Washington, D.C., 1990, p. 181).

    Be careful, however, Spiritual Father, so that you do not give the appearance that, instead of judge, you have become an adjunct to the opposite, showing how you sympathize with the one who reviled and allowing him to say all of his complaints. Tell them that after they have been reconciled, they must greet one another as in the beginning; and if one of them does not agree to this, he must give alms and supplicate God on behalf of the salvation of his enemy. God may soften that person’s heart in this manner, so that they may forgive one another from all of their heart and greet one another.

—St Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain

By means of the rod