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Τρίτη, 15 Οκτωβρίου 2013

ENCOUNTERS WITH ANGELS & DEMONS


“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the ruler of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12). 
            The scientific world has discovered that we know only 4% of the universe in which we live.  We are unaware of the powers and principalities that inhabit the physical world in which we live.  This was brought home to me in a very profound way by the work I did on translating the books about the life and works of the Elder Porphyrios who died in 1991.  I will quote this encounter with the Elder from one of the books of his that I translated. “This is in relation to my continuous questions to Elder Porphyrios about life in other worlds, about life that co-exists with us and other relevant doubts of mine which would often elicit a reprimand from Pappouli.  He would always add the same refrain: “Oh, my dear George, you read too much, certainly it is wrong and this harms you because you always ask and you wait for answers to your questions and when you don’t receive them you feel disappointed.”  So quite late on a very cold winter night, it was probably past 10 p.m. and I was preparing to go to bed.  Pappouli called me and asked me to pick him up from his house in Tourkovounia and take him to Kallisia.  Without a word, I dressed, got in my car and went to pick him up.  During our trip there and especially after Penteli, we took the dirt road toward Kallisia.  I started my usual conversation by saying, “Look Pappouli at how many thousands of stars are above us.” It was a clear cold night.  “Is it possible for some of them to be inhabited? Statistically at least, it is impossible. There must exist some forms of life even if they are drastically different from ours.”

            In the meantime we had arrived at the open space where we parked the car in order to take the footpath to St. Nicholas.  We got out of the car in order to take the footpath to St. Nicholas. We got out of the car when, to my surprise, Pappouli asked me to accompany him all the way to the Monastery.  It already must have been after 11 o’clock and I felt hesitant about going but I did not say anything.  The Elder explained to me that he did not feel too well and it was likely that he might need my help. Starting off on the foot path Pappouli said to me suddenly, “And why are you interested, George, my child in life on other planets or other forms of life here or elsewhere?  You must pursue knowledge of things that will improve you.  The other things are useless for you.  Therefore stop this type of inquiry!”

            We proceeded silently for a short while and then suddenly Pappouli turned and said to me, “Look at how beautiful, peaceful and quiet the night is.  All of nature is sleeping and you have the impression that we are alone.  But yet, around us, in spite of the fact George that you cannot see it, there is pulsating life.  There are different beings that are encircling us, moving, living, existing but for you that should not be of any concern since you do not have any connection with them.  Neither do they have any connection with you and therefore even if you could see them, as I do, and you became convinced of their existence, this would not help you at all to improve yourself which should constitute the prime objective of each one of us.” These are the words of a man who communicated intimately with the spiritual world in which we live.  Our worldly environment is filled with spirits, both good and bad.  So the following dialogue between monastics of Mt. Athos and various pilgrims reveal to us just how real these spiritual entities are. 

            A pilgrim to Mt. Athos was told the following experience of a monk.  This monk told him of his encounter with the spiritual world one day when he was lifted up in ecstasy.  He said that one day he became tired while reading a book.  He used his book as a pillow and turned on his side to rest.  When he did this his mind suddenly was caught up into the heavenly realm.  As soon as he entered that realm of existence two angels approached him.  They appeared to him just as they are portrayed in the icons of our Churches, with beautiful and joyful faces.  The Elder was astounded by the beauty of the Angels and he said to them: “The clothes that you are wearing are so exquisitely beautiful.”  The Angels said in response to the Elder, “this is how you will be clothed in the world to come.” The Elder was astounded by this response of the Angels.  He thought at that moment that how he would like to take a photograph of the angelic beings. The Angels said to him: “Wait a minute; those cameras cannot take pictures of us.” The Elder was again dumfounded by this response because he realized the Angels were reading his thoughts.  The Angels finally passed on before him and smiling at him they said: “You should now go back down to the earthly realm and reverence the Holy Mother.”  The Elder was taken aback by this request for he asked himself to which Holy Mother should I go to reverence. He then understood that he should go to the Monastery that is dedicated to the Holy Mother. 

             These things don’t happen only to monks but they also happen to many pilgrims who reveal their experiences to us.  This can happen to ordinary Christians when they fervently struggle to serve Jesus Christ. Speak to any priest who has served the Church for many years and he will tell you this is very true.  When demons attack they will smother you in such a way that you are physically immobilized.  We are told they squeeze you and immobilize your whole body. It is like an ant when we squish it with our fingers.  There is not much a person can do when a demon attacks us for he has great strength.  We see their strength in the stories of demonized people in the Gospels. What happens though in reality with Christians who are attacked by demons?  In the life of a monk or a committed Christian, when the demons attack the Jesus Prayer kicks into action.

            Once a demon hears the name of Jesus, he cannot stand its power. This is a very important point for all Christians to understand.  In a situation where a demon attacks us, the body is neutralized but the soul continues to struggle.  The soul is spirit and it does battle with the demon for it too is a spirit.  There are three spiritual entities in the universe: our souls, the Angels and the demons.  These spirits are the ones that do battle.  When our souls intone the name of Jesus, the devil cannot endure to hear it and it is forced to leave.  You should know as Orthodox Christians that the greatest consolation for our souls at the moment of our departure from this world on its journey to eternity is the Jesus Prayer.  The Jesus Prayer will help to banish the demons from our souls and it will also help our Guardian Angel take our souls into their loving care.  As we are called home to eternity these are two things that will help us on our journey, the Jesus Prayer and our Guardian Angel.   
Translated from the Greek by:

+Fr. Constantine (Charles) J. Simones, Waterford, CT, USA, October 12, 2013

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