In the dark hours of this Sunday morning some 50 people were killed and another 53 were injured in a terror attack in gay nightclub in Orlando. President Obama has called it an “act of terror and an act of hate,” and it’s being described as the most deadly shooting in American history. As Orthodox Catholic Christians, we can’t simply shut out the pain and despair: we must bring light and healing.
In our Eastern Orthodox prayers of intercession at Compline, we pray… “for those who hate us and those who love us.” In the Orthodox tradition, we recite this prayer every evening. Our ancestors in the Faith know something about enemies, having lived under repressive Muslim and Communist regimes for centuries. So we intuitively know why this petition must become habitual for all people of faith.
I believe if this were a daily prayer of every person, it would help us to do that which does not come naturally to us: love our enemies—and the enemies of all those we love. And it would shape us as a people to be Christ’s presence in a hateful and divided world—a world that needs to know of his presence more than ever.
St. Kosmos of Atilos teaches:
«Even if we perform thousands of good works, my brethren: fasts, prayers, almsgiving; even if we shed our blood for our Christ and we don’t have these two loves [love of God and love of brethren], but on the contrary have hatred and malice toward our brethren, all the good we have done is of the devil and we go to hell. But, you say, ‘We go to hell despite all the good we do because of that little hatred?’ Yes, my brethren, because that hatred is the devil’s poison, and just as when we put a little yeast in a hundred pounds of flour it has such power that it causes all the dough to rise, so it is with hatred. It transforms all the good we have done into the devil’s poison.»*
The death of any humans should lead to mourning, whether they were the victims or the perpetrators. As Angela Price wrote:
«Loving those who are different is not easy. It’s a sacrifice, but Jesus did it for us. When He came to rescue us, we were all lost in sin. We were ‘risky’ for Him, even to the point of crucifixion. Yet he entered into a world filled with filth, and willingly laid down his life in love. This is how we share Christ with those desperate for saving grace.»
ORTHODOX PRAYERS FOR THE DEPARTED
With the Saints give rest O Christ, to the souls of thy servants, where sickness and sorrow are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.
Give rest eternal, in blessed falling asleep, O Lord, to the souls of Your servants who have departed this life, and make their memory to be eternal.
*St. Kosmas Aitolos, The Life of St. Kosmas Aitolos Together with an English Translation of His Teaching and Letters, translated by Nomikos Michael Vaporis