A Nun Started to Cure a Possessed Woman

The Letters of Saint Ambrose of Optina.

Saint Ambrose of Optina

You still worry about one of your letters thinking that I haven’t received it, while it contained something important for you. Write about it again to calm down. Yesterday I arranged your letters, and I have a whole pile of them that are important and unimportant. And the most important is a letter in which you write that you, for pity and imaginary love, got in over your head, started to cure a sister, who is sick with non physical illness.

I told you personally and now I repeat: in the future, do not practice such things. If Pimen the Great, keeping himself in humility, avoided such matters, even having a gift from God, who are you that you dares to do these things being unbidden. I repeat again: do not dare to do such things in the future, if you don’t want to undergo strong temptation, and to incur, firstly, an intolerable fight with sensual thoughts, secondly, assault and attack of the mental enemies, and, thirdly, also persecution by people. What’s the necessity to bring such a terrible temptation on yourself? St. Symeon of Evkhait advises to avoid people possessed by evil spirits, as there were cases when the enemy also confused spiritual people through them. In spite of imaginary compassion and imaginary love, under which self-conceit and pride subtly hide, you yourself must know what bitter fruit come from these passions. Listen to the Holy Scripture, saying, “Everyone that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord”. Look at the Apostle Paul, what he says. He orders to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Here is an example of true humanity. And you take care to save the person from exhaustion of the flesh, to give her temporary calm, covering up your actions perhaps with imaginary benefit for the soul. But this work is not for you. You are not a priest, or a clergyman, who has a spiritual power to help these people using a clever confession, but even in this case a full recovery does not always follow. It depends on the will of God, and from the disposition of the Very Lord, Who has providence for all and settles matters in the most useful and salvific way. People are not only unable to do anything themselves, but do not always realize that is useful to the soul of a man. Although sometimes we imagine ourselves to be zealous and compassionate to the neighbour, but we often understand neither others nor yourselves; and only become involved in this by subtle arrogance and pride. Let this sick woman be constrained to confess to your new confessor what she declared to you, and then we'll see, whether it will be necessary to come to us. If you want to have a real compassion for these people, then you can advise them to confess their sins sincerely to a spiritual father, and to be not ashamed to reveal anything because the punishment is not only for the sins, but more for taking Communion in an unworthy manner. But it is very-very harmful for you to listen to such sins yourself because of your zeal to avoid the temptations mentioned above.

As long as new authorities will be arranged for you, live even with difficulty, where necessary, and then may be God will help you to get better if you try to refrain from arbitrary, unasked zeal in regard to your neighbors. Forgive me.

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