The Orthodox Pages

email: pater@christopherklitou.com 

  TALK ON PRAYER FOR THE

  DEPARTED / GHOSTS / SPIRITUAL MEDIUMS

8th February 2007

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A great part of this talk was taken from Fr. Seraphim Rose' book "The Soul after Death"


Last week we looked at modern Near Death Experiences and the teaching of the church on life after death. Today we are going to look at the churches prayer for the departed, and how it benefits them, and then look at the subject of ghosts and spiritualism.
But firstly, why do we pray for the departed? Why does the Orthodox Church encourage its members to pray for the dead?
Death does not cause a spiritual separation between the dead and the living, for Jesus is still the Lord of both groups. Together, these two groups, the Church in heaven often called the Church Triumphant and the Church on earth called the Church militant, comprise the one, whole, undivided Church, which Saint Paul calls The body of Christ (Eph.1:22, 23). The love which knits together in perfect unity these two aspects of Christ's Body prevails forever, for "love never fails" (1 Corin. 13:8). As Saint Paul also says, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Rom. 8:38, 39).
The Church is not only the visible congregation worshipping here on earth, but also the invisible congregation of the saints and the angels worshipping in heaven. The Church visible on earth lives in complete communion and unity with the whole body of the Church of which Christ is the Head. Our departed family members and friends are also members of this one body and just because they have crossed over to the other side doesn’t mean that they cease to exist or are no longer members of the Church of Christ. If we were to believe such a thing, then all our hopes of the future life and the Resurrection would be lost.
Our Christian parents, grandparents, children, brothers, sisters, and friends live on with Christ after they die, and remembering the great unity that we still have with them as fellow-members of Christ's Body, the Church finds nothing in the Scriptures that would prohibit Christians from expressing love for and maintaining a sense of fellowship with those who have died. What better way do we have to express our love than to pray for them? Now some Protestants might object and say, "If they are already in heaven, how can they possibly need our prayers? Their eternal destiny is already settled!" This is very true! One's eternal destiny-whether one spends eternity in heaven or in hell-is determined by how one believes and lives in this life. The Orthodox Church does not claim that prayers for someone who died in opposition to God can save that soul from hell, since the Scriptures clearly teach that there is no chance for repentance after death (Luke 16:19-31). The passage from Hades to Paradise is impossible for those who sinned very severely and did not confess their sin before departing. But for those who sins were minor this pathway is not definitely closed, given that in the future judgment each one's place, either in heaven or in hell, will be decided permanently. The prayers of the Church are able to help some souls to be saved after their death, but before the resurrection of the body, for the torments sinners suffer after death are temporary and will only become permanent after the Last Judgment. Thus, the opportunity is given to the faithful of the Church, in love to strengthen the reposed by their prayers. Alone the dead cannot be helped, however, with the love of others all things are possible."
The Church, firmly believes that prayer for the dead in Christ is helpful to them because in the Orthodox view, sanctification is seen not as a point-in-time occurrence, but as a process which never ends. As Saint Paul says, “And we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corin. 3:18). And in another place St. Paul says: “For preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that perish; but unto us who are being saved it is the power of God”, the phrase “who are being saved” suggests that we are continually being saved. For this reason, Orthodox Christians look upon salvation itself as a continual growth in holiness, purity, and closeness with God, which continues even in heaven. Holiness is rarely achieved or completed in anyone's life while on earth - no one becomes sinless. It is the Orthodox understanding that sanctification continues on, in some way, into the world beyond-especially in the beginning stages of the next life. The Church believes that our prayers for the departed can help them in this process of healing and purification. There is yet another dimension to these prayers. Not only do our prayers help the departed, but praying for them helps us as well. It keeps their remembrance alive in us, helping our hearts to stay warm and full of love towards them. It gives us a way to experience a sense of their presence, since prayer is far more than simply the making of requests. It keeps them before our eyes as living examples of Christian faith for us to emulate. And a vivid remembrance of those living with Christ in heaven can more thoroughly and deeply assure us that there truly is life after death, which can help diminish any fear of death, which we may have. We can see, then, that our prayers for the departed help preserve and increase the unity between the Church on earth and the Church in heaven-which helps both aspects of the Church. As a contemporary British Orthodox theologian, Bishop Kallistos Ware, says, "just as Orthodox Christians here on earth pray for one another and ask for one another's prayers, so they pray also for the faithful departed and ask the faithful departed to pray for them. Death cannot sever the bond of mutual love which links the members of the Church together".
So how and when do we pray for the departed?
As soon as someone has reposed, the priest should be informed so be can read the Prayers on the Departure of the Soul, which are appointed to be read over all Orthodox Christians after death and to arrange for when the funeral should take place. Almost immediately, we should arrange for the serving of the forty-day memorial, that is, daily commemoration at the Liturgy for the course of forty days. Town churches rarely have daily services, but male monasteries or female monasteries if they have a regular priest serve the Liturgy everyday. When asking the monastery to pray for our departed it is good to send a contribution with the name. The forty-day memorial must be begun immediately after death, when the soul is especially in need of help in prayer, and therefore one should begin commemoration in the nearest place where there are daily services.
How important commemoration at the Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: Before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), the priest-monk Alexis of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, (who died in 1916) who was conducting the re-vesting of the relics, becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: thank you for labouring for me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Liturgy, to commemorate my parents” and be gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria). Father Alexis was astonished at the saints request and said “How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God’s mercy?’ “Yes, that is true,” replied St. Theodosius “but the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer.”
Besides the 40 day Liturgies the Church instructs us to offer Trisagia or Mnymosyna for the departed on the 3rd 9th and 40th days, on the 6 month anniversary and then yearly. The 3rd, 9th, and 40th day memorials have symbolic meanings but are also times when the soul needs fervent prayer to help her.
What happens to the soul on these days? Last week I mentioned something for the third day. I told you that the soul for the first two days enjoys relative freedom and can visit places on earth which were dear to it, but on the third day, Christ, Who Himself rose from the dead on the third day commands the Christian soul, in imitation of His resurrection, to ascend to the Heavens to worship the God of all. On this third day, it passes through legions of evil spirits which obstruct its path and accuse it of various sins. When St. Macarius of Alexandria besought the angel who accompanied him in the desert to explain to him the meaning of the Church's commemoration on the third day, the angel replied to him: "When an offering is made in church on the third day, the soul of the departed receives from its guardian angel relief from the sorrow it feels as a result of the separation from the body.
The ninth day is symbolic of the nine ranks of the holy angels. The Church offers prayers for the departed, that his soul be accounted worthy to be numbered among the choirs of the saints through the prayers and intercession of the nine ranks of angels. But here again, St. Macarius of Alexandria informs us that in accordance with the angel's revelation, the soul after worshipping God on the third day, is commanded to be shown the various pleasant habitations of the saints and the beauty of Paradise. The soul considers all of this for six days, lost in wonder and glorifying the Creator of all. After considering all the joys of the righteous in the course of six days, it again is borne aloft by the angels to worship God. And only after this for the remainder of the forty days, is it shown the torments and horrors of hell, the various parts of hell, and the diverse tortures of the wicked, in which the souls of sinners ceaselessly wail and gnash their teeth, before being assigned on the fortieth day to the place where it will await the resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment. This is a great day for the deceased, for it determines his portion until the Dread judgment of God, and therefore, the Holy Church correctly commands that fervent prayer be made for the dead on this day."
We can do nothing better or greater for the dead than to pray for them, offering commemoration for them at the Liturgy. Of this they are always in need, and especially during those forty days when the soul of the deceased is proceeding on its path to the eternal habitations. The body feels nothing then: it does not see its close ones who have assembled, does not smell the fragrance of the flowers, does not hear the funeral orations. But the soul senses the prayers offered for it and is grateful to those who make them and is spiritually close to them.
Besides the personal days set aside for commemorating our departed friends and relatives, the Orthodox Church, has set aside certain days on which all Orthodox Christians that have departed in hope of resurrection and eternal life must be commemorated in general. There are two such days which we can term as "universal," days for the departed. The first is on Meatfare Saturday which this year is this coming Saturday. It is the last Saturday on which we may eat meat before the Great Fast begins. On the following day, Sunday, the Church commemorates the Dread judgment of Christ, thus the Church prays for all that have departed in faith and in the hope of the resurrection, beseeching God, the righteous judge to show forth His mercy upon them before the universal judgment. The other day is the Saturday before Pentecost. The day of Pentecost is the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the earth to teach, sanctify and lead all people to eternal salvation. Therefore, the holy Church calls upon us to make a commemoration on the Saturday before the feast, that the saving grace of the Holy Spirit wash away the sins from the souls of all our forefathers, fathers and brethren, that have reposed throughout the ages and, asking that they all be united in the Kingdom of Christ.


GHOSTS AND SPIRITUAL MEDIUMS

Ghosts are supposedly the souls of people trapped in the earthly realm and from time to time enjoy appearing to the living. Mediums on the other hand are people who claim that they can contact spirits from the other side. But are ghosts the souls of people and can these so called Spiritual mediums contact the Aerial Realm of Spirits?
To find the answers to these questions we must again go back to the beginnings, back to before the fall of Adam. We will find that for the majority of Christian teachings we will often have to return to the very beginnings, that is why I wanted to start these discussions with Adam and original sin.
Now before the fall of man, his body was immortal, a stranger to infirmities, a stranger to its present crudeness and heaviness, a stranger to the sinful and fleshly feelings that are now natural to it. His senses were incomparably more subtle, their activity was incomparably broader and totally free. Being clothed with such a body, with such organs of sense, man was capable of the sensuous perception of spirits, to which rank he himself belonged in soul; he was capable of communion with them, and of communion with God, which is natural to holy spirits. The holy body of man before the fall did not separate him from the world of spirits. Man was capable of dwelling in paradise. After the fall and only after the resurrection of our Lord, only the souls of the saints are capable of remaining in Paradise, but After the General resurrection their bodies will also join them. Then these bodies will become spiritual and will manifest in themselves those qualities which were given them at their creation. Then men will again enter the rank of the holy spirits and will be in open communion with them. But until that time, by reason of the fall, man’s body has entered into the same rank as the bodies of animals; it exists with an animal life, the life of its fallen nature, it serves for the soul as a prison and tomb. In this condition man’s bodily senses are incapable of communion with spirits, they do not see them, do not hear them, and do not sense them. The holy spirits avoid Communion with men who are unworthy of such communion, while the fallen spirits, who have drawn us into their fall, have mingled with us and so as to hold us in captivity the more easily, strive to make both themselves and their chains unnoticeable to us. And if they do reveal themselves, they do it in order to strengthen their dominion over us.
All of us who are in slavery to sin must understand that communion with holy angels is unnatural to us by reason of our estrangement from them by the fall; that what is natural to us, for the same reason, is communion with the fallen spirits, to whose rank we belong in soul; that the spirits who appear sensuously to men who are in a state of sinfulness and fall, are demons and not in the least holy angels. ‘A filthy soul,’ said St. Isaac the Syrian, ‘does not enter the pure realm and is not joined to holy spirits’. Holy angels appear only to holy men who have restored communion with God and with them by a holy life.
Demons in appearing to men, usually assume the appearance of bright angels in order to deceive the more easily; although they also strive sometimes to convince men that they are human souls and not demons: this manner of deception in our present age is in special fashion among demons, due to the particular disposition of contemporary men to believe it; even though they sometimes foretell the future; even though they reveal mysteries, still one must not trust them in any way whatsoever. With them truth is mixed with falsehood; truth is used at times only for a more convenient deception. Satan is transformed into an angel of light, and his ministers as the servants of righteousness, said the Apostle Paul. ‘A general rule for all men is by no means to trust the spirits when they appear in sensuous form, not to enter into conversation with them, not to pay any attention to them, to acknowledge their appearance as a great and most dangerous temptation. At the time of this temptation, one should direct one’s mind and heart to God with a prayer for mercy and for deliverance from temptation. The desire to see spirits, curiosity to find out anything about them and from them, is a sign of the greatest foolishness and total ignorance of the Orthodox Church’s traditions concerning moral and active life. Knowledge of spirits is acquired quite differently than is supposed by the inexperienced and careless experimenter. Open communion with spirits for the inexperienced is the greatest misfortune.
The Book of Genesis says that after the fall of the first men, God, in pronouncing sentence on them before banishing them from paradise, made for them garments of skins, and clothed them (Gen. 3:20). We explained at our first talk that the garments of skins, in the explanation of the Holy Fathers, signify our coarse flesh which, at the fall, was altered: it lost its subtlety and spiritual nature and received its present crudeness. Although the original reason for this change was the fall, still the change occurred under the influence of the Almighty Creator, in His unutterable mercy towards us, and for our great good. Through the crudeness of our body we have become incapable of the sensuous perception of the spirits into whose realm we have fallen. - The wisdom and goodness of God have placed an obstacle between men, cast down to earth from paradise, and the spirits who had been cast down to earth from heaven; this obstacle is the coarse materiality of the human body. The fallen spirits act on men, bringing them sinful thoughts and feelings; but very few men attain to the sensuous perception of spirits.
When we say Sensuous Perception, we mean seeing spirits with the bodily sense of the eye and when we say Spiritual Perception, we mean with the spiritual eyes of the soul. Only those who have trained themselves by the study of God’s law and acquired the capability to distinguish good from evil are granted the spiritual perception of spirits since delusion and deception are for it now much less dangerous and in conformity with the purposes of God, the sensuous perception, experience and knowledge of them are profitable.
Men become capable of seeing spirits by a certain alteration of the senses, which is accomplished in a way that is unnoticeable and inexplicable to a man. He only notes in himself that he has suddenly begun to see what before this he had not seen and what others do not see, and to hear what before this he had not heard. For those who experience in themselves such an alteration of the senses, it is very simple and natural, even though not explainable to oneself and others; for those who have not experienced it, it is strange and not understandable. In the same way, men fall into sleep; but what kind of phenomenon sleep is, and in what way, we pass over from a condition of wakefulness to a condition of sleep and self-forgetfulness: this remains a mystery for us.
The alteration of the senses by which a man enters into sensuous communion with the beings of the invisible world is called in Sacred Scripture the opening of the senses. The scripture says: Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and be saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand (Numbers 22:31). Being surrounded by enemies, the Prophet Elisha, in order to calm his frightened servant, prayed and said: Lord, open his eyes that be may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and be saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha (IV Kings 6:17-18).”
From the quoted passages of Sacred Scripture it is clear that the bodily organs serve, as it were, as doors and gates into the inner chamber where the soul is, and that these gates are opened and closed at the command of God. Most wisely and mercifully, these gates remain constantly closed in fallen men, lest our sworn enemies, the fallen spirits, burst in upon us and bring about our perdition. This measure is all the more essential in that we, after the fall, find ourselves in the realm of fallen spirits, surrounded by them, enslaved by them. Having no possibility to break in on us, they make themselves known to us from outside, causing various sinful thoughts and fantasies, and by them enticing the credulous soul into communion with them. It is not permitted for a man to remove the supervision of God and by his own means to open his own senses and enter into visible communion with spirits. But this does happen. It is obvious that by one’s own means one can attain communion only with fallen spirits. It is not characteristic of holy angels to take part in something not in agreement with the will of God, something not pleasing to God.
What attracts men into entering into open communion with spirits? Those who are light-minded and ignorant of Christianity are attracted by curiosity, by ignorance, by unbelief, without understanding that by entering into such communion they can cause themselves the greatest harm. Sensuous perception without spiritual perception does not provide a proper understanding of spirits; it provides only a superficial understanding of them. Very easily, it can provide the most mistaken conceptions, and this indeed is what is most often provided to the inexperienced and to those infected with vainglory and self-esteem. The spiritual perception of spirits is attained only by true Christians, whereas men who lead a depraved life are the most capable of the sensuous perception of them. A few people are capable of this by their natural constitution, or by an inheritance and to a very few the spirits appear because of some special circumstance in life. In our times many allow themselves to enter into communion with fallen spirits by means of magnetism (spiritism) in which the fallen spirits usually appear in the form of bright angels and deceive and delude by means of various interesting tales, mixing together truth with falsehood; they always cause an extreme disorder to the soul and even to the mind. Those who see spirits, even holy angels, sensuously, should not have any fancies about themselves: this perception alone, in itself, is no testimony whatever of the merit of the perceivers; not only depraved men are capable of this, but even irrational animals.
One who perceives spirits sensuously can easily be deceived to his own harm and perdition. If, on perceiving spirits, he shows trust or credulity towards them, he will unfailingly be deceived, he will unfailingly be attracted, he will unfailingly be sealed with the seal of deception, not understandable to the inexperienced, it will cause a frightful injury to his spirit; and the possibility of correction and salvation is often lost. This has happened with a great many people. It has happened not only with pagans, whose priests were for the most part in open communion with demons; it has happened not only with many Christians who do not know the mysteries of Christianity and out of some circumstance or other have entered into communion with spirits; it has happened with many strugglers and monks who have perceived spirits sensuously without acquiring spiritual perception of them.
The correct, lawful entry into the world of spirits is provided only by the doctrine and practice of Christian struggle. All other means are unlawful and must be renounced as worthless and ruinous. It is God Himself Who leads the true struggler of Christ into perception of spirits. When God is guiding, the deception of falsehood is separated from truth itself; then the struggler is given, first of all, the spiritual perception of spirits, revealing to him in detail and with precision the qualities of these spirits. Only after this are certain ascetics granted the sensuous perception of spirits, by which the knowledge of them attained by spiritual perception is completed.
Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, cut off for centuries now from the Orthodox doctrine and practice of spiritual life, have lost all capability for clear discernment in the realm of spirits. The absolutely essential Christian quality of distrust of one’s “good” ideas and feelings has become totally foreign to them. As a result, “spiritual” experiences and apparitions of spirits have become perhaps commoner today than at any other time in the Christian era, and a gullible mankind is prepared to accept a theory of a “new age” of spiritual wonders, or a “new outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” in order to explain this fact. So spiritually impoverished has mankind become, imagining itself to be “Christian” even while preparing for the age of demonic “miracles” which according to the Book of Revelations, is a sign of the last times (16:14).
Orthodox Christians themselves, it should be added, while theoretically being in possession of the true Christian teaching, are seldom aware of it, and often are as easily deceived as the non-Orthodox.
In the west, and especially in Britain, one hears of countless stories of ghosts. There is a general understanding that these ghosts are somehow trapped in some aerial realm between earth and heaven and are forced to roam the earth for all eternity. In contrast, in Cyprus and other Orthodox countries, people never see ghost but have visions of saints. These we can say are two sides of the same coin. and both are demonic deceptions. Demons take what we believe in, they take the truth and twist it so that it appears as the truth, but with an added lie. In England, the belief in ghosts is so strong and in recent years, this belief has been strengthened by the media and with uncountable films on the occult. The belief in ghosts starts from a young age with comics and cartoons like Casper the friendly Ghost. We have seen what happens to the soul after death and according to Holy Scripture, the souls are not free to come and go as they please. The appearances of ghost can then only be demons appearing as the souls of dead people and this they do to deceive people of the true teachings on life after death and at the same time bring terror into the hearts of those beholding these visions. Now Orthodox Christians as already mentioned, instead of ghosts see saints. A great many of these visions are true appearances of saints who through God’s will are sent to earth to help or heal the faithful. But demons are also known to appear as angels or saints and at times have appeared as Christ. The receiver of such visions is often deluded into thinking that if he is worthy to see such visions then he must be a good Christian and his way of life is pleasing to God. But how can we distinguish between a genuine holy vision and a demonic delusion?
St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, a brilliant Russian Bishop who was canonised in 1988 and is commemorated on 30th April, devoted his life writing on the spiritual life and prayer: he warns that:
You must know the following for your protection. When any kind of vision presents itself, do not become frightened, but no matter what kind of vision it might be, manfully ask it first of all: ‘Who are you, and where do you come from?’ If it is a manifestation of saints, they will calm you and will turn your fear into joy. But if it is a demonic apparition when it encounters firmness in your soul it will immediately waver, because the question serves as a sign of a brave soul. By asking such a question, Joshua the son of Nun became convinced of the truth when Michael the Archangel appeared unto him.
After relating how even St. Symeon the Stylite was once almost deceived by a demon who appeared to him in the form of an angel in a fiery chariot, St. Ignatius warns the Orthodox Christians of today: “If the saints have been in such danger of being deceived by evil spirits, this danger is even more frightful for us. If the saints have not always recognized demons who appeared to them in the form of saints and Christ Himself, how is it possible for us to think of ourselves that we will recognize them without mistake? The sole means of salvation from these spirits is absolutely to refuse perception of them and communion with them, acknowledging ourselves as unfit for such perception and Communion.
The holy instructors of Christian struggle command pious strugglers not to trust any kind of image or vision if they should suddenly appear, not to enter into conversation with them, not to pay any attention to them. They command that during such apparitions one should guard oneself with the sign of the Cross, close one’s eyes, and in resolute awareness of one’s unworthiness and unfitness for seeing holy spirits, to entreat God that He might protect us from all nets and deceptions which are cunningly set out for men by the spirits of malice”
In conclusion, St. Ignatius teaches: “The only correct entrance into the world of spirits is the doctrine and practice of Christian struggle. The only correct entrance into the sensuous perception of spirits is Christian advancement and perfection”.
St. Ignatius’ teaching, written over a hundred years ago, could well have been written to day, so accurately does it describe the spiritual temptations of our own times, when the “doors of perception” have been opened in men to a degree undreamed of in St. Ignatius’ day.
Another reason why non – Orthodox see ghosts and Orthodox Christians do not, is that the Church has as it were, weapons that defend us from evil spirits. Every year the houses of Orthodox Christians are blessed with holy water either at Epiphany or by inviting the priest to give a private blessing for the house and its occupants. But there are some who are sceptical of the power of these blessings to ward of evil, so I will tell you of three accounts that I was personally involved in. The first was when I was still a layperson but was involved with the Church. A friend of mine had a sister who from a young age, as far back as she could remember, saw demons. They appeared as humans and they became her friends. She grew up talking to them and trusting them. Her parents thought all this to be game, of speaking with imaginary friends, which many children play. When she reached her teens and starting putting on make up, something was very visible wrong. She would paint her face a ghostly white with deep black eye makeup and black lipstick and black nail varnish. Her whole appearance looked very frightening, but again her parents thought it was just a phase she was going through. Then when she was about 15 years old, her demonic friends suddenly stopped being friendly. They kept telling her to jump out of the window and kill herself. She no longer wanted them as her friends, but they wouldn’t leave her alone. She asked her parents to help her, but they dismissed the issue as something imaginative, something that she had made up to seek attention. The girl became so desperate that she was in danger of losing her wits. It was at this time that her brother asked me if I could talk to her. When I first saw her, I was shocked at her appearance. She told me her story, which I believed, but as I couldn’t help her, I rang my spiritual father to make an appointment for her. The next day I took her to the monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex, where my spiritual father was and he being by far a more spiritual person than myself confirmed that what the girl saw was not her imagination. He advised her on how to pray and gave her a copy of the New Testament with the instructions to read from it everyday, because the one thing the demons hate the most is hearing the gospels. True enough as soon as she practiced reading the Gospels, the demons went away and never bothered her again.
The second account is from when after I became a priest. It happened about 10 years ago. I was asked to go to a home to do the service for the blessing of the waters. As I was about to begin they asked me if I could also read the prayer for warding off the evil eye. I asked them why and they told me that their eldest son’s fiancé who used to live with them dabbed in the black arts or as we say in Greek dabbed in magic. Since the oldest son left with his wife, the younger son who was about 19 or 20 then, told them that he sees a black man in his room. I took the young lad into his room and he told me that every night at midnight a black man would appear next to his bed and just smile at him. This apparently went on for a few months, but the night before, this black man actually got into bed with him and started to touch him. I was rather taken aback with his story. It was the first time I had heard of such a thing, but I believed him because the Church in many of her prayers asks God to protect us from the midnight spirit. I did the service and also said some exorcist type prayers and left. I didn’t see the young man again until last year. He had joined the police force and during the last civil elections, he was assigned to the polling station at our village. I didn’t recognize him at first, but he came up to me and told me who he was. I was pleased to see him, because I had always wondered if he continued to have encounters with his black man. I asked him how things were and he told me that from the very night I did the blessing he never again had any more visions.
My third story is similar to the first. A female cousin of mine when she was a child, used to see people standing at the foot of her bed. She never spoke to them and was always frightened of them except for one, which she felt was protecting her and who when she grew up, she believed to have been her guardian angel. She used to go asleep under the covers feeling that if she couldn’t see them then they couldn’t harm her. Her parents of course didn’t believe her or, chose not to believe her. When she grew up she stopped having these visions. She married and had a daughter and everything was fine until one day her daughter told her that she saw people standing at the foot of her bed. She remembered her own childhood and the fear she went through every night and dreaded at the thought that now her daughter was having the same experiences. After some time she confided in me and I suggested that we should have the blessing of the waters to ward off the evil spirits. She agreed but asked me not to make it known why we were blessing the house because she didn’t want her daughter to know that she had spoken to me. I did the service and now about 5 years have past and the girl has never again seen people at the foot of her bed.
Demons also channel spiritual deception through spiritual mediums. These are people who somehow are perceptive of the spiritual world. They claim to be able to reach the spirits of the departed and hold séances for people longing to know where their loved ones are. Again the spirits that are in communion with the mediums are not the departed human souls, but the demons masquerading as humans. This is not anything special or difficult for the demons since they can appear as saints and angels of light. They also know everything about us. They have been with us all our lives and have recorded, as it were, every action we have made and every word we have spoken. It is so easy for them to pretend to be the husband or child of someone still living and tell them how wonderful life is beyond the grave, or even to disclose a secret that no one else knew except himself.
In a similar manner, mediums that foretell the future by means of hand, coffee, tea or card readings are being used by demons to channel out their deceptions to unsuspecting and naïve people. Sometimes the mediums know that the information they give comes from demons, but many believe they have a special power granted to them by the grace of God. But how do the demons use these mediums. When someone goes for a reading, the demons “enlighten” so to speak, the medium who believes that he or she receives a revelation about the person’s life. The medium accurately tells the person of things that have happened in the past and everything of the person’s present situation in life and about plans he has made for the immediate future. The person is so stunned by the accuracy of the reading that he will believe anything the medium will tell him of the future. Dreams again are not to be trusted. We do not know enough about the state of the soul when we are sleeping, but Holy Scripture is full of accounts of how God speaks to people through dreams. Joseph was told in a dream to take Mary as his wife and that the Child in her womb was from God, again he was told in a dream to depart with Mary and the Child and go to Egypt because Herod sought to kill the Child. Dreams therefore are used by God to reveal his will to us and many Saints have appeared in dreams to people. But demons can also use dreams to delude us. They might for example appear to a man in far away Australia and tell him that his brother in Cyprus has passed away. On waking, the man phones his brother and is informed that his brother did indeed pass away at the very hour he saw the dream. Now why you may ask did the demons use the truth? Because from now on the man will believe that his dreams do come true and will from now trust his dreams leaving himself open to demonic deception. May Christ through the prayers of his holy Mother and all the saints protect us all from demonic deceptions.