In the last post, we briefly discussed the use of anger against sin and against the demons. Now, someone might say, here is one of those mad monks again, talking about the demons. Do demons exist? Yes. However, so do natural ailments, both psychological and physical. It is not a simple matter to discover a demon in someone else, and only Elders have the charism to do such a thing. We beginners have to leave these things alone.
However, here is a point. As the Elder Porphyrios (1906–1991), whose book of reminiscences, Wounded by Love, we cited in this post, remarks, it is part of the dogma of Christianity that the Devil and demons exist. For we learn in the Bible that Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the Devil.
To give you an idea of the sort of fellow the Elder Porphyrios was, so that his remarks on the existence of the demons make sense, in one of the many books about him, there is recounted the following episode in his life. He had a cancerous carbuncle on his head which needed to be cauterized. It was a Friday afternoon when he went to a doctor in
The doctor began the procedure. The room filled with the smell of burning flesh. The Elder Porphyrios entered into a state of prayer united to Christ on
The Elder Porphyrios remarked in recounting this story that the Devil himself prompted the doctor to shout that out, so as to disturb the Elder’s union with God. For, the Elder Porphyrios remarked, ‘In such a situation, if you lose your mental union with God, you’re lost.’ Remember that the room was filling with the smell of burning flesh.
That’s the sort of fellow that the Elder Porphyrios was—and more. When he says that we have to take seriously the existence of the Devil and the demons, we have to take seriously what he’s saying.
Now the point is that the demons are behind the tempting thoughts. This is not medieval theology: it is part and parcel of Orthodox ascetical psychology. And here is where the proper use of anger comes in: it is used as a directed tool against the demons when they are sowing a tempting thought.