Patristic Tradition

On Peace ( 21.03.2009 )




All men desire peace but they do not know how to attain it. Paissius the Great, having lost his temper, begged the Lord to deliver him from irritability. The Lord appeared to him, and said, ‘Paissius, if thou dost wish to avoid anger - desire naught, neither judge nor hate any man, and then thou wilt have no anger.’ Thus everyone who renounces his own will before God and other people will always be at peace in his soul; but the man who likes to have his own way will never know peace.

The soul who has surrendered herself to the will of God bears every affliction, every ill, with ease, because in times of sickness she prays and contemplates God, saying, ‘O Lord, Thou seest my frailty. Thou knowest how weak and sinful I am. Help me to endure my sufferings, and to thank Thee for Thy goodness.’ And the Lord relieves her pain, and the soul feels God's help, and is glad in the sight of God, and gives thanks.

If some misfortune befall you, reflect in this wise: ‘The Lord sees my heart, and if He so will, all will be well both for me and others,’ and then your soul will always be at peace. But if a man murmurs against his fate, saying, ‘This is not right, and that is ill,’ he will never know peace in his soul, even though he fast and spend much time in prayer.

The Apostles were deeply attached to the will of God. In this manner is peace preserved. All the great Saints likewise bore with every affliction, submitting themselves to the will of God.

The Lord loves us, and therefore we need have no fear except of sin, for through sin we lose grace, and without God's grace the enemy will harass the soul as the wind harasses smoke or a dry leaf.

We must never for a moment forget that the enemy him­self fell through pride, and now is always striving to thrust us on to the same path, and with many he has succeeded. But the Lord said, ‘Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’


O Merciful Lord, grant us Thy peace,

as Thou didst give peace to the Holy Apostles,

‘My peace I give unto you.’ -

Lord, grant that we also may delight in Thy peace.

The Holy Apostles received Thy peace,

and spread it over the whole world,

and in saving people they did not lose their peace,

nor did it grow less in them.


Glory be to the Lord and His compassion - He loveth us greatly, and giveth us His peace and the grace of the Holy Spirit.

How may we preserve peace of soul among the temptations of our times?


Judging by the Scriptures and the temper of folk today, we are living through the final period. Yet must we still preserve our souls' peace, without which - as St. Seraphim said, who upheld Russia by his prayer - we cannot be saved. During his lifetime the Lord preserved Russia because of his prayer; and after St. Seraphim another pillar reached up from earth to heaven - Father John of Kronstadt. Let us pause and consider Father John of Kronstadt, for he was of our day, we witnessed his prayers, whereas the others we did not know.

We remember how when his carriage was brought round after the Liturgy, and he stepped into it to take his seat, people surged about him, seeking his blessing; and in all the hurly-burly his soul remained wrapt in God. His attention was not distracted in the midst of the crowd and he did not lose his peace of soul. How did he manage this? That is our question.

He achieved this and was not distracted because he loved the people and never ceased praying to the Lord for them.


O Lord, grant Thy peace to Thy people.

O Lord, bestow Thy Holy Spirit on Thy servants,

that their hearts may be kindled by Thy love,

and their feet set upon the path of truth and goodness.

O Lord, I would that Thy peace be among all Thy people

whom Thou hast loved to the utmost,

and didst give Thine only-begotten Son

that the world might be saved.

O Lord, grant them Thy grace that in peace and love

they may come to know and love Thee,

and say like the Apostles on Mount Tabor,

‘Master, it is good for us to be with Thee.’


Just as Father John of Kronstadt preserved his peace of soul by praying for the people without cease, so we lose our peace because we do not love the people of God. The Holy Apostles and all the Saints desired the salvation of the world, and dwelling among men they prayed ardently for them. The Holy Spirit gave them the strength to love mankind. As for us, if we love not our brother we cannot have peace.

Let every man think on this.


Glory be to God that He has not left us comfortless but gave us the Holy Spirit on earth. The Holy Spirit teaches the soul ineffable love for mankind, and compassion for all who have gone astray. The Lord had pity on them that had gone astray, and sent His only-begotten Son to save them; and the Holy Spirit teaches this same compassion towards those who have erred, who go to hell. But he who does not possess the Holy Spirit has no wish to pray for his enemies.

St. Paissius the Great prayed for his disciple who had denied Christ, and while he prayed, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Paissius, for whom dost thou pray? Knowest thou not that he denied me?’ But the Saint continued to weep for his disciple, and the Lord then said to him, ‘Paissius, thou hast become like unto me in thy love.’

After this fashion is peace acquired, and there is no other way.


Though a man pray much, and fast, but has not love for his enemies he can know no peace of soul. And I should not even be able to speak of this, had not the Holy Spirit taught me love.

The soul that is sinful and a prey to the passions cannot know peace and rejoice in the Lord, even though she possess all the riches of the earth, even though she rule over the whole world. If a great king, merrily feasting with his prin­ces, and sitting on the throne of his glory, were suddenly to be informed, ‘O King, thou art about to die,’ his soul would be troubled, and would tremble with fear, and he would see his infirmity.

Yet how many poor men there are, who are rich only in their love for God and who on being told that they were about to die would reply in peace, ‘The Lord's will be done. Glory be to the Lord that He has remembered me, and wants to take me to paradise where the first to enter was the thief.’

There are poor men who have no fear but meet death in peace, like Simeon the Just, who lifted up his voice in praise and sang, ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.’

Only those with the peace of God in their souls, or who have at least experienced it, can understand the peace that was in the soul of Simeon the Just. Speaking of this peace, the Lord said to His disciples, ‘My peace I give unto you.’ The man who possesses this peace departs in peace into eternal life, with the cry:

‘Glory be to Thee, O Lord, that now I go to Thee, and in peace and love I shall behold Thy countenance for ever. Thy meek and gentle gaze drew my soul to Thee, and she yearns after Thee.’


We must expound to our brethren gently and with love. Peace is lost if we vaunt or exalt ourselves above our brother, if we find fault, if we enlighten otherwise than gently and with love; if we eat too much, or are indolent in our praying. All these things cause us to lose peace.

But if we accustom ourselves to praying eagerly for our enemies, and loving them, peace will always dwell in our souls; whereas if we feel hatred towards our brethren, or find fault with them, our minds will be clouded and we shall lose our peace and the confidence to pray to God.


Saint Silouan the Athonite