— Geronda(Elder), my thoughts tell me that now more than ever the devil has great power.
– The devil has malice and hatred but he does not have power. It is God’s love that is all-powerful. The devil tries to appear powerful but he can’t make it. He appears strong but in reality he is powerless. Many of his destructive schemes fail even before they start. Would a good father ever allow a few young hoodlums to bully his children?
– Geronda, the demons scare me.
– What are you afraid of? The devil has no power. Christ is All-powerful. The tempter is rotten. Don’t you wear across? The devil’s weapons are weak. Christ has armed us with His Cross. Only when we abandon our spiritual armour is the enemy strong. An Orthodox priest had only to show a small cross to a sorcerer and the demon he had invoked started trembling.
– Why is the devil so afraid of the Cross?
– Because when Christ received the spitting, the blows and the beatings, the kingdom and the power of the devil were crushed. How wonderful is the way in which Christ defeated the devil! «The devil’s dominion was crushed with a reed,» used to say a Saint. When Christ was given the last blow with a reed, at that very moment, the devil’s power was destroyed. In other words, patience is our spiritual defence and humility our greatest weapon against the devil.
The greatest balm that Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross gave us is the crushing of the devil. After the Crucifixion of Christ, the devil is like a snake with no fangs, with no poison; he is like a wild dog without teeth. All poison was removed from the devil; all teeth were removed from the wild dogs that are the demons. So, they are now disarmed, while we are armed with the Cross. There is nothing, really nothing that the demons can do to a creature of God when we ourselves don’t hand over rights to them. They only make noise; they have no authority over people.
Once, when I was at the Kelli (Cell) of the Holy Cross, I kept a wonderful vigil! A whole bunch of demons had gathered at night on the roof of the Kelli. At first, they banged the walls with a sledgehammer and then made all kinds of noise as if they were rolling big logs and tree stumps. I started making the sign of the cross at the ceiling and chanting, Thy Cross we venerate, O Lord, and we glorify Thy holy Resurrection(1) I stopped; they started again. «Now,» I said to my self, «we’ll have two choirs, you from up there with the logs, and me down here.» When I started, they stopped. At one point I was chanting, Thy Cross we venerate, O Lord, and we glorify Thy holy Resurrection, and the other, Lord, you have given us Your Cross as a weapon against the devil.(2) I spent the most delightful night in psalmody and when I would stop for a while, they would start the entertainment! Every time they put on a different performance!
– Didn’t they leave the first time you chanted?
– No. As soon as I stopped, they started. Both choirs had to have their vigil! It was such a beautiful night! I chanted with such a longing! I had a great time!
– Geronda, what does the devil look like?
– Do you know how «beautiful» he is? He’s something else! You have only to see him to believe it! But God’s love does not allow that man can see the devil! For sure, most people would die of fear! Imagine if they could see how he operates; if they could see his «sweet» form! Some among them, however, might really be entertained! I mean, entertained like the movies. But to get to see this kind of show, one must do a lot of work in advance and even then he might not make it!
– Does he have horns and a tail?
– Yes, he is fully equipped.
– Geronda, did the demons become so ugly when they fell and from angels they became demons?
– Of course! And it’s like they have been struck by lightning. When lightning strikes a tree, doesn’t it turn into a charred stump? The demons look like that. For a while, I used to say to the devil, «Come by so that I can see what you look like and avoid falling into your hands. Just a look is enough to see how evil you are. Should you get me, there’s no telling how much I will suffer.»
(1.) It is a Tropario for the Feast of the Adoration of the Precious Cross.
(2.) Resurrectional Stichero from the Praises of the 8,thTone.