Saturday, March 7, 2020

How Saint Paul the Simple Overcame a Most Powerful Demon

By Palladius of Helenopolis

(Lausiac History, Ch. 28)

So a year after Paul the Most Simple came to live with him [Anthony the Great] he was highly experienced in a disciplined way of life and was found worthy to battle against the demons and against all kinds of diseases.

One day there was brought to Anthony a young man vexed beyond measure by one of the most powerful and savage demons who railed against heaven itself with curses and blasphemies.

Anthony had a look at the young man and said to those who had brought him, "This is not a task for me. I have not yet been given the grace to deal with this very powerful type of demon. Paul the Simple has the gift of dealing with this one." The great Anthony went to Paul, that most excellent man, taking them all with him.

"Abba Paul," he said, "Cast out this demon from this person so that he may return home cured and glorify God."

"Why not you?" asked Paul.

"It is not for me," said Anthony. "I have other concerns." And the great Anthony left the boy there and returned to his cell.

The unassuming old man stood up and poured out a strong prayer to challenge the demon and said, "Abba Anthony says, 'Depart from this man'"

"I will not, you disgusting, pompous old man," said the demon, with many curses and blasphemies. Paul put on his sheepskin and belabored him in the back, crying, "'Go out,' Abba Anthony says."

The demon abused both Paul and Anthony with curses, saying, "You are disgusting old men, lazy and greedy, never content to mind your own business. What have you got in common with us? Why are you browbeating us?"

"Either go now," said Paul, "or I will call upon the power of Christ to bring destruction upon you."

But this unclean demon railed against Jesus also with curses and blasphemies: "I am not going," he shouted.

This made Paul get angry with the demon. He went outside. It was midday - when the Egyptian heat bears comparison with the furnace of Babylon. The holy old man stood up straight, like a statue, on top of a rock, and prayed, "O Jesus Christ, you were crucified under Pontius Pilate, take note that I will not come down from this rock, nor will I eat or drink even if I die, until you hear me and cast out this demon from this man and liberate him from the unclean spirit." And even as the simple and humble Paul was praying, before he had even finished, the demon cried out, "I'm going, I'm going, driven out by force, overcome by tyranny. I'm getting out of this man and won't come back any more. It is the simplicity and humility of Paul which has driven me out and I don't know where to go."

The moment he went he changed into an enormous dragon about seventy cubits long which crept off towards the Red Sea. Thus were fulfilled the words of Holy Scripture, 'The righteous man shows his faith by what he does' (Proverbs 12:17), and 'On whom shall I look, says the Lord, if not on him who is gentle and humble and trembles at my words?' (Isaiah 66:2). Although lesser demons can be cast out by the faith of men in authority, it takes humble men to be able to put to flight the demons of greatest power.

Such were the miracles of the humble Paul the Simple, and there were many others he did, even greater than these. He was known as Simple by all the brothers.