Saracens Question Saint Cyril on the Compatibility of War and Praying for One’s Enemies

Saints Cyril & Methodius, Enlighteners of the Slavs

In the [Muslim] Saracen encampment they asked St. Cyril [Enlightener of the Slavs]: “How can Christians wage war and at the same time keep Christ’s commandment to pray to God for their enemies?’ To this, St. Cyril replied: “If two commandments were written in one law and given to men for fulfilling, which man would be a better follower of the law: The one who fulfilled one commandment or the one who fulfilled both?’ The Saracens replied: “Undoubtedly, he who fulfills both commandments.” St. Cyril continued: “Christ our God commands us to pray to God for those who persecute us and even do good to them, but He also said to us, Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). That is why we bear the insults that our enemies cast at us individually and why we pray to God for them. However, as a society, we defend one another and lay down our lives, so that the enemy would not enslave our brethren, would not enslave their souls with their bodies, and would not destroy them in both body and soul.”

* This excerpt is from “The Prologue of Ohrid” by St. Nicholas Velimirovic of Zica

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