St. Theodosius of Kiev: on the battle with evil spirits
(Excerpted from the Paterikon of the Kievan Caves Monastery)
In the cave he [St. Theodosius] experienced much misery and visions from evil spirits, even receiving wounds from them, just as it is written about the holy great Anthony. But when he ventured to show himself to this man, he gave him invisible strenght from heaven to vanquish them.
For who will not marvel at this blessed man, who remained alone in such a dark cave and did not fear the multitude of unseen hosts of demons, but stood firm, like a strong and valiant man, praying to God and calling on our Lord Jesus Christ to help him? Thus he conquered them through Christ's power, so that henceforth they dared not come near him, though they still caused him visions from afar.
For when he sat after the evening office he never lay down. If he wanted to sleep, he sat on a bench, and after a short nap would get up again, continue his nocturnal singing, and prostrate himself on his kness. When he sat down, as we said, there was a clattering sound made by the multitude of demons in the cave, as though some of them were riding on wagons and other were beating drums and yet others accompanying them on pipes, and they were shouting, so that the caved rocked from the din of the multitude of evil spirits.
When our father Theodosius heard all this, his spirit was not afraid, nor did he feel any terror in his heart. But fortifying himself with the sign of the cross, he got up and began to sing the Psalter, and straightwat the great noise died away. Then he sat down once more, aftre saying a prayer, and again the voices of countless demons sounded again, as they had before. So the venerable one again got up and began to sing that Psalter, and the sound ceased again.
Thus the evil spirits behaved towards him for many days and nights, not allowing him to sleep even for a short time, until he conquered them through Christ's grace and received power over them from God, so that henceforth they dared not approach the place where the blessed one was praying...
If he heard from the brethren that someone was struggling with demonic visions, he would summon him, and because he had been thoroughly tested himself, he would teach and instruct him to stand firm against the devil's wiles; not to succumb or be weakened by the misery caused by demonic visions; not to depart from that place, but to fortify himself by prayers and fasting; and continually to call upon God for victory over the evil spirit.
He would say to them, "So it was with me at first. One night when I was singing the usual psalms in my cell, a black dog stood before me, so that I could not prostrate myself; it stood before me for many hours. Being goaded in this way I wanted to strike him, and then he vanished from my sight. Such fear and trembling seized me that I would have run away from that place, if God had not helped me. For recovering a little from fright, I began to pray fervently to God and make frequent genuflections, and thus my terror left me, so that from that hour I have not feared them, even if they have appeared before my very eyes."
He would also say many other things, strengthening them against the evil spirits, and then dismiss them, and they would rejoice and glorify God for having received such instruction from their valiant guide and teacher.
One of the brethren, called Hilarion, also told me, "the evil spirits were causing me a great deal of trouble in my cell. As I was lying on my bed, a multitude of demons came and seized me by the hair, trampled on me, and dragged me down, while others scaled the walls and said, 'drag him round here so that we can crush him against the wall.' They treated me like this every night.
As I could not endure it, I went and told the great Theodosius about the trouble with the demons and said that I wanted to leave that place for another cell.
But the blessed one entreated me, 'no, brother, do not leave that place, lest the wicked demons boast that they have vanquished you and caused you harm. Aftre that they will do you greater harm, since they will have received powwer over you. Rather, pray fervently to God in your cell, and when God sees your endurance He will give you victory over them, so that they will not dare approach you.'
I said to him again, 'I beseech you, father, after this I cannot abide in that cell because of the great number of demons.'
Then the blessed one made the sign of the cross over me and said, 'go to your cell. Henceforth the wily demons will not inflict any torment on you, nor will you see them again.'
I believed him and prostrated myself before the holy man and went away. That night I slept soundly in my cell in complete silence. Henceforth the crafty demons dared not approach near that place, since they had been driven away by the prayers of our venerable father Theodosius."
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