Saint Anthony The Great – About the attack of demons

The attack of the demons is terrible, with noises, roaring and yells as if it were an attack of certain unpunished youngsters or robbers who cause  fear to the soul,  disorder and commotion of the thoughts, sadness, tediousness for the hermits, idleness, the remembrance of the relatives and the fear of death and from here it derives the desire for what`s evil, the lack of desire for good deeds and the fickleness of the habits.

So when someone of you sees this you will be afraid. But if the fear is taken off from you and it were replaced by an inexpressible joy and merriment, bravery, undisturbed thoughts and all the others as I said before, bravery and love for God, then dare and pray because the joy and the peace of the soul show the holiness of the one who is present. Abraham in the same way when he saw God he rejoiced; John when he heard the voice of the Theotokos, rejoiced.

When there is commotion and noise from the outside, worldly illusions, fear of death, know that is an attack of the demons. And this be a sign for you. When the souls of some of you are afraid know there is an attack of the demons. Since the demons don`t draw away the fear of such things, as great archangel Gabriel did with Mary and Zachariah and as Jesus did at his tomb with the women. When they see them being afraid they create more hallucinations to frighten them more and attacking them, they shame them saying: `worship us`

This is how they fooled the Greeks since this is how they worshipped their idols with false names. But we weren`t let by God to be deceived by the devil. Because when such illusions were perfomed before Him He rebuked the devil and told him: `Get behind me Satan!` For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.`

So the cunning is even more defamed by us: because God did these for us so that the devils hearing from us such words to overturn for God Who rebuked them for this. Then we should not be proud that we take the demons out or that we heal or marvel at the one who takes out the demons or defame the one who doesn`t do this, only learn the asceticism of every one and to desire it and follow it or correct it. Because making signs doesn`t appertain to us but to our Savior.

That is why He told His disciples:` don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven` To have your names written in heavens is the testimony of the good deed and of your life. To take out the demons is the gift of the Savior Who gave it. For this reason to those who swaggered not with their good deeds but with the signs they made and said: `God, didn`t we take out the demons with Your name and with Your name we made great things? The Lord answered to them: `Amen I say to you, I do not know you. Because God knows the paths of the unbelievers. But we should pray to receive the gift of distinguishing the spirits since as it is written, we should not believe any spirit.

Thus I wanted to remain silent and say nothing about me and content yourself only with these. But do not think that I am saying these in vain, believe instead that I relate these wisely and truly. For this although I made myself a man without mind, but God who hears me know the purity of my heart, not for me, but for your sake and progress I tell you about the cunnings of the demons I witnessed.

How many times the devils told me I am blessed and I cursed them in the name of God. How many times they told me about the water of the Nile and I told them: `And why do you care about that?`

Once they came frightening me and surrounded me like some armed soldiers with horses. Another time they filled my house with beasts and crawlers and I was chanting:

`These are in chariots and with horses and we in the name of our Lord God we will take pride. And by prayer they fell down.

Once they came by dark with hallucinations of light and said:

`We came to bring you light, Anthony.` And I closing my eyes was praying and the light of the evil spirits went off. After some months they came speaking and chanting from the Scriptures and I as a deaf man did not hear them. Once they shook the monastery and I was praying to remain unshaken in my mind.

Afterwards they came clapping their hands and whistling and dancing and I was praying fervently and chanting and they started to cry and sigh as if they were tired off. Then I gave glory to God Who vanished away and destroyed their daring and madness. Another time the devil showed up in a hallucination very high and dared to say: `I am the power of God, the providence. What do you want me to give you?` Then I spat the devil saying the name of Christ and wanted to beat the devil. I even had the impression that I had beaten him.

Thus immediately the high one vanished with all his companions for the name of Christ. Once while I was fasting the cunning came as a monk having with him bread and he advised me saying:

`Eat and end up your numerous struggles, you are human and you will weaken yourself` But I understanding his cunning woke up to pray for him and being unable to bear that vanished. He went out on the door like a smoke disappearing. How many times in the desert he showed me illusions of gold to make me touch it and seek for him. But I prayed against him and he vanished. Many times he crushed me in beatings and I was saying: Nothing will separate me of the love of Christ. And afterwards they ran away even more. And it was not me who made them vanish but the Lord Who says: `I saw Satan as a lightning falling from the skies.

And I my sons remembering the words of the apostle put these into my mind so that you may learn not to get angry in the desert or be afraid of the hallucinations induced by the devil and his servants. Because I made a fool out of myself telling you and receive this for strengthening you and encouraging you and believe me I don`t lie.

Once somebody in the monastery knowcked at my door and when I went out I saw someone who was extremely tall. Asking him: who are you, he answered: `I am Satan. I said to him then: `What are you looking for then? He said: `why the monks and the other Christians blemish me/ Why do they curse me all the time?

Then I said to him: `But why do you disturb them?` He said: `It`s not me who disturbs them, they disturb themselves, I am weakened. Didn`t you read that the swords of the enemy vanished and his citadels were destroyed? I don`t find any place for myself in the desert or city, everywhere there are Christians. Even this desert is filled with monks. So they should guard themselves and not to curse me in vain

Then marveling at the gift of God I said to him:

`Being all the time a liar and never saying the truth now even not willing it you said the truth: because Christ after His coming made you impotent and destroying you He chased you away.` And he hearing the name of the Savior and not bearing that vanished. Thus since the devil himself confesses that he can`t do anything, we have the duty to defame him and his servants.

See as the enemy with his dogs has so many cunning schemes and we learning about their impotence are able to defame them in this way. Let us do not weaken in our spirit or think about fear or imagine ourselves any fear by saying: we should not allow to be capsized by the devil when he comes and if he comes without warning let us be undisturbed. We should never think about such things nor saddened ourselves as if we perished. We should even more dare and rejoice all the time as some who have found salvation and think in our souls that God is with us and He defeated them and shamed them. Let us always think if God is with us our enemies can`t do anything to us. Because when they come as they find us this is how they approach us and after the thoughts they find inside us they bring the deceits.

Thus, if they find us being afraid and disturbed they immediately get in and frighten us like some robbers who find an unguarded place. If they see us being afraid they make that fright even greater with their hallucinations and frightening. Then by these the wretched soul is tormented

If we are found rejoicing and thinking about God and that everything is in His hand and the devil nothing can do against the Christians knowing that he can`t rule over anyone of us then when they see the soul strengthened with such thoughts they go away ashamed. Thus the enemy seeing Job tormented went to him and when he found Judas lacking these, he enslaved him.

For this reason if we want to defame our enemy for ever let us think about the things of God so that the soul may rejoice for ever hopingly. Then we shall see the schemes of the devils as some smoke and we shall see them running away not chasing us away. Because as I said before they are fearful cowards waiting the fire prepared for them. Have even this sign for not being afraid before them when there is any hallucination appearing, so that you shall not fall frightened, but dare and ask first: What is it? Who are you and where are you coming from?`

And if there is an apparition of the saints this will be proven to you and your fear will turn into joy and if there is a devilish apparition this will immediately be weakened seeing your mind strengthened. Cause it is a sign of being undisturbed to ask: Who are you and where are you coming from?` Asking this Jesus of Navi became learnt and the enemy didn`t hide from Daniel who asked him this.

Everybody was glad hearing Anthony saying these. And in some grew the gift of the good deeds and from others vanished their weakness and pride. All of them defamed the haunting of the demons marveling at the gift given to Anthony by God to distinguish the spirits.

Excerpt from The Lives of the Saints–  Sihăstria.