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30 August 2023
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story A book about general Ilya Leonidovich Tatishchev appeared

24 November 2022
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a talk by schema-archimandrite Abraham Invincible weapon appeared

29 August 2022
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story The events of the sunny August appeared

13 June 2022
Section Feasts and Weekdays was refreshed. There a story Faithful for good. A monument to prince Dolgorukov, general Tatishchev, sailor Nagorny, and boatswain Sednev appeared

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Should one be afraid of evil spirits? A talk by schema-archimandrite Avraam

Father, it seems to me that we greatly overestimate the participation of evil spirits in our life: we ourselves create a certain situation and then say that this is a "temptation from the demons."

It does happen sometimes that only we are at fault, yet we blame the demons. Everybody remembers the story from a patristic collection about how a certain monk was frying an egg on a candle on Good Friday. When the abbot caught him doing this and the monk started justifying himself: "It was the demon who tempted me!", the demon yelled from the corner: "Don't believe him, father, I myself am amazed by his guile!" On the other hand, one must not underestimate the impact of the demons on our thoughts and actions. This influence is much greater than many of us think.

Any person is simultaneously present in two worlds: in the material world with his body, and in the spiritual word with his soul. A spiritual life, in the broad sense of the word, is led even by an atheist who denies the very existence of the spirit. He does not believe in the dark forces, yet, without realizing it, he is in communication with them, he accepts their suggestions and sometimes becomes their blind weapon. He thinks he exists independently, but this is an illusion. Spiritual life entails its own laws that inevitably have impact on each of us. Since we have little faith in the existence of demons, we often take even the obvious demonic suggestions for our personal desires.

The main Christian ascetic effort – sobriety, is aimed namely at the close examination of the life of the spirit, at guarding yourself from evil demonic thoughts, at purifying your mind. As we plunge into the mystical spiritual world, we see that in our soul there are desires and feelings absolutely foreign to us, and we clearly experience certain foreign influence on us. A person who only begins to approach the task of purifying his soul, sees the demons only when they have approached very closely. Meanwhile, people experienced in spiritual life, discern the approaching of demons to their soul from afar, and they are able to guard their mind with prayer in a timely fashion.

Can the demons read human thoughts?

St. John Cassian the Roman writes about this. Demons do not know the thoughts of a man, but they know the thoughts which they put in his mind themselves. They have no way of knowing whether we accepted those thoughts or not, but they get an idea about this from our actions. If we, looking at our interlocutor, are able to guess whether he agrees with us or not, so much more can the demons guess about that right. What concerns thoughts from God or some natural thoughts, they can guess them from our behavior, but they cannot know for sure. Can a demon enter into a person?

Speaking quite literally, a demon cannot enter the inside of human soul; only the Lord can enter it in a supernatural Divine way. A demon can inhabit only the human body. A demon can enter into a human body by way of sorcery, if the person does not go to confession, communion, and does not pray. Or it could be something that God allowed.

Where do people with supernatural abilities draw their power from – the psychic readers, soothsayers, visionaries?

Psychic readers are people who are in the state of prelest', or spiritual delusion. They themselves think that they are in communion with God, cosmic energies, or that in some way they are capable of drawing from themselves certain powers and help other people in this way. In reality, though, in order to work miracles from God, it is necessary to lead special spiritual life. From an Orthodox point of view, psychic readers are in communion with unclean spirits. Even if they do heal, as it were, such "healing" brings tremendous harm to them personally and to those whom they heal – both spiritually and even physically. Of course, one must not resort to the help of psychic readers; it is the same as if asking for help demons themselves.

What concerns the gifts of prophecy and clairvoyance, of course, they sometimes come from God – but extremely seldom in our time. More often one encounters a different phenomenon – false clairvoyance. Demons counterfeit their actions as actions of Divine grace. They can even show visions; as very insightful creatures, they can guess the future. Therefore, upon encountering a person with a reputation of a prophet, one should be very careful.

Then how can one explain the gifts of people such as David Copperfield? He would fly in front of an audience, go through the Chinese wall, and all this has been confirmed by modern technology.

Perhaps, he is a sorcerer; this does not take us by surprise. Ok, he passes through the wall – so what, we know about things more amazing this this. For instance, the sorcerer Cynops, with whom John the Theologian struggled spiritually, could spend many hours under water. But when Apostle John prayed, the demons left this sorcerer, and then he did not emerge from under the water. Simon the Sorcerer would go up into the air and fly. And when demons stopped helping him, he fell from great height and got smashed up. All this can be done by unclean spirits, and for an Orthodox Christian, there is nothing amazing in it. When the Antichrist comes, he will do much greater and much more tremendous miracles, no comparison to this magician.

Or perhaps such people are just your ordinary fakirs. Whatever modern technology confirms. This could be done for money's sake. In our time people believe in science, so they are being told about technology in the same way they "scientifically" prove in advertisements that one toothpaste brand is better than the other.

What should one think about aliens and parallel worlds?

What should one think about that? Just watch fewer movies, that's it. You can get anything there. You might watch too much, and then somebody with horns would come to you and say: "I am an alien." With regards to this question, I recommend reading the book "Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future" by Fr. Seraphim Rose. It talks wonderfully about this. Of course, aliens are demonic stuff. In antiquity, demons would entice people through the idols, and in our time, they appear in the guise of aliens.

When I pray by myself in the dark, I get very scared: I have a feeling as if somebody is standing behind my back or as if I can discern some movement near me through peripheral vision.

This happens from lack of heart and lack of faith. When a person is being alone, prays, or reads spiritual literature, the demons try to confuse him and distract him from prayer. Yet, the person needs to try being completely free, bold, and to pay no attention to this. The great ascetics would despise demons, even when they would appear to them in some scary guise. If you become scared, just make the sign of the cross, and that's it. If you continue being afraid, the fear will only get bigger.

In addition, one should always remember that without God's allowing it, nothing can happen to us, and the Lord will never allow anything beyond our strength. We should be afraid of demons, but in what sense? We should fear lest we give in to their suggestions, lest we fulfill their will and end up together with them as the adversaries of God. But if we try to live according to the Gospel, if we are committed to the Lord with all our soul, then there is nobody to fear for us. As apostle Paul says, "If God is for you, who is against you?"

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