Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Saint Anthony's Encounter With the Satyr and the Centaur

In the Life of Paul the Hermit by Saint Jerome, written in the year 374 or 375 during Jerome’s stay in the desert of Syria, we read how Saint Anthony was on a journey in the desert to find Saint Paul of Thebes, who according to his dream was a greater and more perfect desert-dweller than he. Saint Anthony had been under the impression that he was the first person to ever dwell in the desert; however, due to the dream, Saint Anthony was called into the desert to find his "better," Saint Paul. On his way there, he ran into two creatures in the forms of a centaur and a satyr, which are considered to have been demonic temptations, although Jerome seems to be open to the possibility that they may have been monstrous creatures of the desert, of which he says that one such creature was seen alive in Alexandria during the reign of Constantine the Great.

Monday, August 22, 2016

On Dreams (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

In the previous chapter we discussed fantasy and imagination, the damage they cause to our spiritual health, and how we can be ultimately healed of their negative influence.

Dreams are also closely linked with imagination, as we shall see in the following pages. Because many Christians are inexperienced in this aspect of spiritual warfare and incapable of dealing with the matter of dreams, they create problems for themselves. It is not uncommon for people to pay close attention to dreams and to examine what they dreamt the night before, without realising that by so doing they become dupes of the devil. There is also a tendency for people to examine dreams in accordance with the teachings and conclusions of secular psychotherapy, which are different from the Orthodox Tradition.

The holy Fathers were concerned about this issue. In the following pages I shall set out their teaching on dreams, the distorting consequences they have for man, and how they can be cured. It will become clear that the way the Fathers treat the subject of dreams deserves our attention.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Saint Paisios the Athonite on Deluders and the Deluded

"While evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deluding and being deluded."(1)

Regarding the Delusion of the Pentecostals

- Elder, the things that are said by those who go over to the Pentecostals – that is, about seeing visions, speaking in tongues etc. – are those things from their own imagination, or from demonic influences?

- They are energies of demonic influences; because when they go over to the Pentecostals and are re-baptized, they are actually disregarding, denying Holy Baptism: “I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins” as the Creed declares – in which case, they un-baptize themselves and become susceptible to demonic influences and then they jabber-jabber, supposedly in tongues. “It is the Holy Spirit of Pentecost talking” they tell us. But it is not the Holy Spirit; it is a whole mess of unclean spirits. What tongues? They are merely uttering gibberish, which not even they can comprehend. They even record that gibberish and then produce statistics and reach conclusions: “That tongue has so many ‘hallelujahs’ in it, and there are so many in the other tongue.” Well, it’s to be expected, among so much jabber-jabber, you will surely hear something that resembles the word ‘hallelujah’ in one of the languages of the world! And so you can see, while it is something demonic, they actually believe that demonism to be the energy of the Holy Spirit, and that they are supposedly experiencing what the Apostles had experienced on the day of the Pentecost! Blasphemies are the things they believe, which is why they become demon-possessed.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Saint Paisios the Athonite on Spiritual Delusion

Ascesis and delusion

- Elder, I am afraid of delusion.

- So you should. Whoever is afraid of delusion will not be deluded, because they are careful and they deposit their every thought - they hide nothing and are thus helped.

- Elder, what is a predisposition for delusion?

- The predisposition for delusion is to imagine that you are something special and showing others that you are achieving something. It is to imagine that you have reached spiritual heights because - for example - you have accomplished an ascetic feat (when others have not yet perceived the meaning of the spiritual life) and then behave arrogantly. It is when you force yourself egotistically during ascesis in order to attain the measure of a Saint so that others might admire you: that is the beginning of delusion. Violence is one thing and force is another. I told someone once, "Take care that you don't become deluded, with those tactics of yours; it won't be to your benefit." "Me, deluded?" he replied. "I even abstain from meat." But he didn't go to confession either. He used to disclose his sins to an icon. "What are you? Orthodox or a Protestant?" I said to him. "Where did you find that in writing?" "Why?" he retorted. "Can't Christ hear me?" What a remark!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Saint Paisios the Athonite on the Demonically Possessed

- Elder, how many demons lived inside the demon possessed Gadarene?(1)

- "Many demons"(2), according to the Gospel. That's why the possessed man said that his name was "legion"(3). And you should note that, just as a whole lot of demons can dwell inside a possessed person, in the same way, all the Saints can fit inside the heart of the faithful. If Christ can fit in there, then the Saints most certainly can! Such huge mysteries! One time, when I was at the Hut of the Honorable Cross, someone rang the doorbell outside. I looked through the window, and what did I see? A man that was being trailed by an entire column of demons - a black swarm of them! It was the first time that I have ever seen a man possessed by so many demons. He was a medium: he had combined benedictions of the Church with invocations to demons; Christian books with books of magic spells; this was the reason he was under the power of the demons. Terrible! I was greatly sorrowed.