Monk John (Adlivankin) and Hegumen Ephraim (Vinogradov). "Pastoral care of the people coming from sects and the occult. The canonical practice of accession and renunciation rites as an instrument of spiritual struggle. The strategies of demonic forces".
Video of talk (in Russian): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTkL8bQSmm4
Monk John: To continue the conversation that took place on February 22 in the Monastery of Optina and dealt with the problems of pastoral care, the practice of accession rites, the problems of the boundary of the Church and the contemporary attitude towards modern children of the Church fallen away from the Church, we asked the famous contemporary writer to participate in our conversation. He is well-known to Orthodox audience as a confessor, it is father Ephraim (Vinogradov) known to the Orthodox public and readers as Hegumen N.
Thank you, farther, that you agreed to take part in this conversation. It seems to us extremely relevant. Those questions that have arisen in this conversation on the part of the clergy, on the part of the Optina brotherhood, and on the part of the priests, require more detailed study and clarification. Therefore, in today's talk, we will be able to give some answers to emerging questions.
Father Ephraim, this is a rather difficult topic: the pastoral care of people who come from sects, or damaged by sects and the occult. The topic, in general, is not so new in the Church, but nowadays, it becomes extremely relevant. You are well-acquainted with the work of the pastoral care center, you are familiar with the materials, documents, we closely cooperate in discussing some problems, developing solutions, and I know that recently you have been often using the canonical approach of accession and renunciation rites for people who for one reason or another were harmed or even fell away from the Church. Undoubtedly, in the vast experience of your pastoral work ... How long have you been a priest, how much have you been doing spiritual work?
Hegumen Ephraim: Well, almost 30 years.
Monk John: Well, in 30 years, probably, many things have come before your eyes. How do you feel about this approach? I know that you, too, have received the blessing to perform the accession rite with regard to people who have fallen away from the Church. It is such a difficult act; it needs a special blessing of the archbishop, the bishop. And, probably, you see from your experience that it gives really positive results. People who for many years for one reason or another could not be healed, did not come to senses and had completely obvious, and sometimes some hidden diseases that can be seen by the confessor, in general, after such an approach, after the implementation of such a practice, they obviously came to their senses. It is true, isn’t it?
Hegumen Ephraim: Well, we all know that the search for Truth in the 70s and 80s led many people to Hinduism and occultism. Indeed, in those years no one could imagine any other spirituality, because Orthodoxy was slandered for 70 years, and people searched for this wisdom somewhere else, because the despiritualization of the Soviet society did not satisfy everyone. Naturally, many people were engaged in occult practices, and I know very well many people who were harmed by these practices. However, it must be said that through this occultism, some people, as if by contradiction, ultimately came to Orthodoxy.
In general, I have quite a lot of intellectuals, and almost everyone of this intellectual class went through occultism. And when I told them about these rites, they asked to perform them. At first, I got scared because there were a lot of them, a few dozens. I counted 50 people at once.
Monk John: Father, may I ask something at once? Well, you probably mean the act that is performed in the framework of Confession.
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes, of course, it is inherently related to Confession and is performed in the framework of Confession.
Monk John: So this is not something separate, this is not something new, is it?
Hegumen Ephraim: No, it is included in the Confession, but, as you well know, it is answers and questions composed in a special way that relate to the problems of this particular person. That is, I have to talk with a person first and find out what he did, what occult theories he accepted, what practices he used in his former life before he came to Christ. And the questions were precisely on this topic. That is, a person deliberately renunciated, renounced, as it was in the first centuries of Christianity, as we know, and heretics at the Oecumenical Councils were forced to renounce, anathematize their delusions. And I thought: how am I going to carry out this rite with everyone? However, I realized that it was impossible, I don’t have enough time for that, and I decided to perform this rite for all people together simultaneously. I announced the questions ...
Monk John: So you took the questionnaire that we use?
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes, I took the questionnaire that you use...
Monk John: I will explain a little. This questionnaire is structured in such a way that it contains the fallacies of the contemporary Christian of the post-Soviet era.
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes. And father hierodeacon read the answer loudly, and I asked people to mentally repeat the words of renunciation after him. Just the next day, the calls rang out and very many people thanked for this rite, because they said that they really felt a huge relief. Therefore, as practice has shown, indeed, this is a very important moment of the spiritual life, because, I repeat, in the 80s and 90s, many people were engaged in occult practices, magic, and spells. As you know, all this was very common, these books on magic and spells were sold in almost any bookstore. Therefore, many people were engaged in this, not realizing that by the very fact that they turned to these infernal forces, they actually renounce Christ. Therefore, of course, the rite of renunciation is necessary. It helps in the fight against these spirits since a person turned to them even because of ignorance, being not even fully aware, nevertheless, he turned to these demonic forces. No appeal remains without an answer; therefore, one way or another, this man becomes a follower or an instrument of demonic forces in this world. It means that this connection should be somehow interrupted. And the Holy Fathers gave us an example of how this is done, so any priest knows about the existence of the so-called Great Euchologion. I think that every church has one. And if we open the rites, we will see the accession rites, but the Church did not know so many heresies, so many unknown cults before. Therefore, there were rites that regarded the heretics of that time. And modern sects or occult movements, such as, for example, the one organized in the 20s of the 20th century by the Japanese monk Mikao Usui ...
Monk John: Reiki, the massive one, millions of people...
Hegumen Ephraim: ... Reiki. The word "ki" in Japanese, that is, "qi" in Chinese, means some universal energies. So qi-gong or rei-ki are cults that are based on interaction with demonic energies. And people who receive initiation through the masters of these cults, in fact receive nothing more than what all the priests of Ancient Egypt received through the ancient Egyptian mysteries, for example. The meaning of these mysteries lied in one thing: establishing contact with the demonic world. In the best-case scenario, for the purposes, when a demon, a particular, definite evil spirit entered man and acted through him, manifesting his powers, supernatural for us, but quite natural for demons as an angelic rank.
Monk John: Here, as far as I understand, it is necessary to differentiate where the scope of renunciation is, when a person remains in the Church but gives the right to himself to some of the demonic forces through these occult acts. And if we are talking about the accession rite, then the same actions, only more profound, more serious ones, can generally lead to the fact that a person essentially goes outside the boundaries of the Church. In such cases, we offer the accession rite. This border is not so easily identified. And many modern clergymen are very embarrassed that a person who has been in the Church for many years, that is, for 10 years, for 20 years, suddenly comes to us, turning to specialists. It turns out that he did not even have the right to participate in the Sacraments.
Hegumen Ephraim: Well, only an experienced, spiritual person who has repeatedly talked to harmed people can see it, can see this harm and can identify it. That is, a very subtle, attentive approach of an experienced person is really needed. We need to talk to these people because indeed many people were baptized in childhood, they were not catechized, their parents, as a rule, were also unbelievers, but under pressure, let’s suppose, a grandmother believer, they nevertheless agreed that this grandmother would take the child to the Church, and baptize him. But then, he grew up in a completely atheistic society and, of course, knew nothing about Christianity. Nevertheless, he addresses such demonic forces with the help of various summoning of demons, which in Hinduism are called mantras, because the mantra, as we know, includes, first of all, the name of one of the evil spirits. This is actually an anti-prayer. In our Orthodox Hesychast practice, during the Jesus prayer, we call the name of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and they, for example, call the name of one of the demons.
Monk John: And sometimes not one, but, for example, ten demons. Each mantra name can mean the name of a demon.
Hegumen Ephraim: Absolutely. And in fact, a person opens himself for the entry of demonic forces, or at least gives them the opportunity to freely dispose of this person, to inspire him with thoughts, feelings, and emotions. And in order to avoid this violent influence, the rite of accession is certainly necessary in some cases. If a person is actively engaged in occult practices and mantra yoga, for example, transcendental meditation, which actually opens a person for demonic forces, although people do not understand this and do it, perhaps, with the purpose of body recovery, but in fact all Eastern practices are aimed at supporting influence of certain spiritual spheres on a person. But these spheres are not divine, not heavenly, not grace-filled, these are demonic spheres. That is, a man opens himself with the help of these practices precisely to demonic influence. And in order to stop this influence, in order at least to stop it, to reduce the impact on humans of the demonic world, in some cases, the rite of renunciation is necessary, and sometimes even the accession rite, because some were engaged in magic specifically, turned to sorcerers, practiced witcheries or made a love spell. Very many women were engaged in magic operations in order to bewitch a man. This, according to my observations, was done by many of them. And not everyone names it in Confession, by the way. If you do not ask them specifically, they often even forget about it.
Monk John: Charmed the husband. They are afraid that they will lose their husbands...
Hegumen Ephraim: Absolutely. In fact, they used the services of satanic forces. Naturally, the very fact of appealing to the sorcerer with some purpose, for healing, to get rid of a rival, to bewitch or, vice versa, drive someone away from oneself - this is all an appeal to demonic forces through a particular minister, we may say, of Satan. And the appeal to this minister or the use of these spells or magical actions on his own is already a fact of renouncing Christ ...
Monk John: The one who does it. The one who is engaged in it.
Hegumen Ephraim: Certainly, who does it. Still, these years of atheistic darkness, which has been dominating in our country for more than 80 years, of course, have changed much in human consciousness. Even in the consciousness of the priests raised in Soviet society, who do not know these things, who have never read or heard of these things. Moreover, one has to deal with the priests who deny the existence of spirits.
Monk John: Well, such a rational atheistic thinking...
Hegumen Ephraim: It is very difficult even to understand this because all the writings of the Old and New Testaments, all the patristic writings speak specifically about individuals who are in the spiritual space, in the spiritual world: both light spirits and dark spirits. Moreover, these same priests who deny the existence of dark forces, that is, fallen angels, for some reason celebrate, for example, the Feast of Archangel Michael and all the heavenly bodiless powers. The question is, if you believe that there are light forces, than it would be strange not to admit what all the Holy Fathers wrote in their works. Note, all of them! I do not even know the exceptions, who would not know about the effects of demons on consciousness on the physiology, on the human psyche.
Monk John: In practice, we are often faced with another exaggeration. We often, for example, in our practice meet people who, simply said, have gone mad. One comes to the priest, and this priest says to him: "You have a demon inside." Well, some simpleton who has no idea what it is, who had tried to somehow fight, thought about his morality, suddenly discovers that all that was in him was some kind of terrible invincible force ...
Hegumen Ephraim: External force...
Monk John: An external force that is not influenced by the human soul, it exceeds the man himself. And just a disaster starts. Then they send such a person to the so-called exorcism, a person passes through 40 exorcisms, and as a result he is a completely damaged person. It seems to me that if we are talking about spiritual wickedness in high places, then it also requires some kind of professionalism or understanding, knowledge of what is happening, where this demon is: inside, outside of a person, it affects the mind, the personality. This is also a very big topic, which today is practically not developed.
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes, unfortunately, this problem is raised neither in seminaries nor academies, and demonology is not studied, although Paul the apostle said his famous phrase that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, i.e. people of flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in high places, against the rulers of the darkness of this world. That is, it was specifically said that our war is a spiritual war, it goes with the spirits. And many holy fathers wrote that the passions that are raging within us are demons. How to understand this? That is, that the demons cause, enhance even our so-called vital instincts, that is, the instincts that provide human activity in this world: the hunger instinct, the instinct of self-preservation, the instinct of reproduction and so on. They exaggerate, strengthen these instincts to the second power or to the third power, and as a result a passion arises. It is due to some natural instinct. People appear to have some kind of hypersexuality.
Monk John: As a rule, the video and audio may be the reasons today...
Hegumen Ephraim: bulimia arises, that is, intemperance in food.
Monk John: Again, advertising, because everything is there, everything is offered, right?
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes. There are all sorts of ... Well, we all played games in childhood: first in the sand, with soldiers, dolls. This is really an instinct. Look, all the animals and kids play, it is in us, it develops a person, develops an animal, it develops physical strength, one’s ability to communicate with others. But when the demons affect a person, he gets what is called gaming addiction, and you know it well. I remember that you once wrote even an article on this topic.
Monk John: We were one of the first to receive such a flow of these players, we did not know what to do with them. This is now a disaster.
Hegumen Ephraim: And you had to study.
Monk John: Yes.
Hegumen Ephraim: You were actually at the source of this problem. Of course, all these exaggerated instincts that become our passions, they are caused by demons
Monk John: Well, what do you think the demons live in the virtual space too?
Hegumen Ephraim: Sure.
Monk John: Or it is demonic space itself?
Hegumen Ephraim: Well, you see, with the help of mantras and transcendental meditation, we open ourselves to the entry of demonic forces. These modern games are aimed at the same thing: in order to carry away a child from childhood and expose him to the effects of these demonic forces. And look, what is going on with children, any psychologist knows this. Children just go crazy with these games. The real world ceases to exist for them, it is not interesting anymore. Because in the game he can be anyone: a king, a commander, a general director...
Monk John: Well realizes himself. You can say so.
Hegumen Ephraim: And in the real world he is a nowhere man. He controls everything, but here he is guided by his parents or teachers, and he is nobody, he is a child. And there he is lord and master. And this, of course, firstly, brings up terrible pride, asociality, a person cannot adapt to the world, he does not need friends, he cannot communicate with them. He can only order, but his orders are not carried out, and this grieves him. And everything in the computer is good, everyone understands him there...
Monk John: Complete freedom...
Hegumen Ephraim: There you can kill freely, as much as you like. You know how scary the games are right now, where blood flows, pieces of meat scatter, it's all so much alive. I once accidentally looked over the shoulder of a young man playing and got frightened.
Monk John: Taken aback, it's true.
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes. And it all actually connects to this satanic world and denying it is ... Well, I remember the phrase of John of Kronstadt, when he was asked this question: “Father, now there are even priests (I remind you, this is the beginning of the 20th century), who say that there are no evil spirits, this is just an allegorical depiction of the passions of a person, and there is no relation to spiritual personalities who live somewhere in a parallel space around us.” And you know I was struck by the answer of John of Kronstadt, he said: "Those people, who, being Christians, do not believe in the existence of evil spirits, do not believe because they are obsessed by them."
Monk John: Strikingly...
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes, and in fact, if a person is a Christian and reads spiritual literature, if he at least a little tries to fight, really fight his passions, set himself this or that task to get rid of another sinful habit, he cannot be so blind not to see what a strong impact on him is made not from the inside but from the outside. That is, it is not his negative will that manifests itself, when he does not want this, but when doing it, he feels that he is forced by someone else’s will. As the apostle said, “the law of sin”: what I would – I do not do, and what I would not – I do. And most often it happens under the influence of evil spirits. And if a person leads a spiritual life, especially if it is a monk who is called for this, he came to God for this, he retired to a monastery for that, well, in an ideal case, it should be so: not from some bad conditions of life in the world or from the fact that he didn’t have a family life there, and he left to hide from these problems. He, a normal monk, did not come to hide, but rather to go to God, because monasticism provides more opportunities for approaching God, eradicating passions. And if a monk is engaged in this main task, working on his soul, on its purification from all the negative qualities that we obtained ourselves, because habits, as they say, become the second nature, they grow into us, but we get something from our parents, and it is said in the Old Testament on Mount Sinai to Moses, that children bear the consequences of the sins of their parents to the third and the fourth generation.
In the Book of Exodus, this is specifically stated on Sinai, the Lord Himself reveals. It means that we bear, just as we bear the consequences of original sin from Adam. Although the sin itself that our ancestors committed is forgiven in the sacrament of baptism, the consequences of this sin, gracelessness, even some negative qualities of character are obvious in children, and any person knows a saying that speaks about this moral interdependence of children from parents: "As the tree, so the fruit." We are talking specifically about some moral spiritual qualities of character, and not about a person’s appearance, because truly hereditary features are transmitted, this is biological heredity, and here in this case, we see heredity, I would say, spiritual. And a person tries to get rid of these negative spiritual qualities, received and acquired by himself, when he retires to a monastery, becomes a monk. If he tries to get rid of them, then he will certainly take up the struggle with these dark forces that are behind these passions and do not want people to get rid of them. They had previously acted quietly, secretly, unnoticed... We know that, in the words of one French poet, Satan did one ingenious thing: he tried to prove that he does not exist. Why? Because it facilitates his impact on people. And while the man lived in the world, he did not understand that they were playing a game with him, a secret, quiet game, but which destroyed him spiritually. But when he retires to the monastery, if he begins to fight, these forces are exposed, they are already openly attacking, and then the person cannot help but feel that he is not fighting with himself, but he is fighting with the spiritual wickedness in high places. Not with flesh and blood, but with the evil spirits of the rulers of the darkness of this world. And if someone from the clergy does not understand this, it can only say that he never led this struggle. He does not have this practice, that is, there was no spiritual practice, practically no spiritual life. And all his faith is purely some kind of speculative, mental faith, nothing to do with real faith, which suggests that you need to deny yourself, that is, your sinful qualities, your sinful habits, to take up the Cross to fight them, because fighting these habits is as painful as crucifixion, to crucify these sinful qualities on the Cross, as the apostle says: "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." It hurts. And when a person does this, he crucifies his passions, he cannot but see that spirits influence him.
Monk John: I know that in your work “What do they want to save us from”… When you published it, by the way?
Hegumen Ephraim: In 2000.
Monk John: Then you undoubtedly extremely carefully, deeply, meticulously investigated the influence of the demonic world on man. And in fact, demons affect people. In what aspects? In his worldview, in his mentality as a whole, in his spiritual structure, in his moral principles? Where to define this circle of influence, how does this happen? Well, the truth is that a person cannot obviously look possessed; it seldom happens, it means that there is some kind of human tread, it is very difficult to figure it out.
Hegumen Ephraim: You know, the manifested demonic possession...
Monk John: Manifested means obvious, clearly shown.
Hegumen Ephraim: ... clearly shows itself when a person, as you mentioned, grunts, barks, falls to the floor, makes some other, so to speak, incomprehensible sounds, begins to make unnatural movements, that is, manifests an obvious obsession, a terrible case of madness, they are just more obvious and therefore even easier to heal. It is much worse when the demons are sitting in a person and practically do not manifest themselves, if the person who observes him from the outside, the clergyman has no experience, he cannot understand and see. And if he has no experience, then people say: “Why are there two people in this person? In some cases, he acts very good, may even help someone, explain something correctly even from the point of view of Christianity, and then he does such things that one can only spread his hands, because only an atheist or a person without some kind of culture, without morality, not only Christian culture, without human culture at all can act in such way. You see, that's what people do sometimes. And this duality is the first indicator that the demon influences this person. But whether outside or inside, this is a very delicate question, and only a clergyman who has extensive experience in the spiritual life of the individual, can determine it, can understand it in each particular case. And you have mentioned that some confessors very easily resolve the issue with their children when they declare “Yes, you are possessed by a demon, you have a demon, run for the exorcism. You know, very many, especially women, have a labile psyche, very agile, they are very susceptible to suspiciousness, it is generally developed in women, in men to a lesser extent, but nonetheless there, and if the priest is careless, he will say “You are possessed’’. The last is worse than the first. The fact is that she may be possessed by a demon, really, but if he speaks about it out loud, he cuts off every opportunity to fight as it seems to her: I have nothing to do with it, it’s the demon that influences me, I can't fight, I lay down my arms. Let someone do it for me, let some father read spell prayers over me, and I will live as I live and will not do anything, because it is useless, the demons are stronger than me. Yes, the demons are really stronger. This was written by John of Damascus, Gregory Palamas, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, it is a fact. But the Lord is stronger. Stronger is he that is in us, than he that is against us in this world. Therefore, one cannot disregard one's own struggle with the help of God, of course. And such a categorical verdict of the priest “you are possessed” actually removes all responsibility for herself from her, she stops fighting, moreover, demons, hearing this, use her for their own purposes, they reinforce these fears, and, you know, it can lead to manifest demonic possession.
Monk John: Or to insanity.
Hegumen Ephraim: Absolutely, or to a madhouse. And here you have to be a very delicate person. Even seeing these things, it is not always possible to talk about it to your spiritual children so as not to harm. And the doctor does not always tell the diagnosis, because when a person loses hope of healing, he often dies faster. And when hope is supported in him, it happens that he continues hoping psychologically, struggling, and sometimes recovers, any doctor knows about it. Even the placebo effect, as you know, is built on the same principle: on the faith and hope of a person that this medicine will help him. And indeed, somehow, we do not know this mechanism, but internal forces are mobilizing. Therefore, saying such things is very dangerous.
Well, about the need for exorcism... You know, I wrote about this in the book "On one ancient fear," wrote about real cases of healing, took an example from the life of John of Kronstadt with many witnesses who were present. When John of Kronstadt, coming out of St. Andrew’s Cathedral after the Divine Liturgy, surrounded by the crowd of thousand people, makes his way to his carriage waiting for him. The crowd, everyone wants at least to touch, and, ideally, to receive a blessing, so that the father makes the sign of the cross over them or gives a hand to kiss, or at least to touch him, like that sick woman, who walked behind Christ and thought: if I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. Suddenly, a young man who growls and fights is brought to him, several healthy men are holding him there, he cannot raise his eyes to the Father, and the Father calling the name of the Lord Jesus Christ makes the demon come out. The demon, before leaving this young man, shouted in a terrible voice, everyone heard this: You exorcized me two years ago in the mission of the Leushinsky convent from such and such woman and now persecute me again, well, let me live at least one year more! Well, John of Kronstadt forbade him and, in the name of the Lord Jesus, told him: “Go out,” that’s the whole spell prayer. And John of Kronstadt went his way, the boy was healed, the demon went out in the form of a terrible stinking cloud, from which everyone almost suffocated, but the boy became healthy. And the Father said later while walking: “Bring him to me later, so that he could receive Communion”. That is all, the whole exorcism, no long prayers, asperges, anointings - none of this was performed. All the saints healed in this way: Seraphim of Sarov, Sergius of Radonezh healed, some people were healed while still walking towards them. It also happened a whole mile before the saint, these cases are described in the hagiography. That is, the grace of God, which was in the man, it expelled, and not specific gestures, asperges, prayers, etc. Yes, prayers are unpleasant to demons, this is known. Yes, they can cause them very unpleasant moments, and they will be even angrier. And people often come to me who have been at the exorcism, and they say that after the exorcism, it became worse. I say: “Well, well, really, imagine that you took a stick and stuck it in a hollow with wild wasps. What do you think, if you move a stick there, what will happen?” The same happen, when these prayers are read without having such grace as John of Kronstadt to exorcise the demons, they will bite afterwards. Bite, as a rule, and the very priest who does it. Most of the time, I met a lot of such priests who either ended up in a psychiatric hospital, or were very sick, or began to get drunk; the demons are taking revenge. But he cannot drive them out; therefore, today's exorcism is under great doubt, I have not seen a single person in the 30 years of my practice of serving actually healed with these exorcisms. I do not say that they are absolutely useless. If the person was really already saint, I think that the demons could get out.
Monk John: Well, probably, something depends on the man himself, who is ill, on his repentance, on his receipt of the Holy Communion, there is still some connection here.
Hegumen Ephraim: There is a connection, because I have seen such people who come only because they want to be healed from this demonic influence, they understand this, they feel it, and they want to be free. But when I asked them: “And if you are healed, are you ready to live the real Christian life, that is, go to church regularly, at least on Sundays, and, if possible, if the work allows, on holidays, to take Communion regularly, to lead a prayer life, at least in the way a layman should do, to read certain prayers in the morning and in the evening, the Gospel at least a little, i. e. spiritually develop, read spiritual books, are you ready for this?” “No, father, I want to be healed’, they answer, ‘but I cannot live like this, I don't want to, I don't like it. I love dancing, I love girls, I love to ride a motorbike” and so on. These are the answers I've heard many times. And imagine, a crowd of people in the church came for healing, the father does his best, reads prayers, sprinkles them with holy water, anoints them with holy oil, and they have no wish to change their lives. What happens if demons come out? The seven worst will enter, as Christ says, and the last will be worse than the first, then what is the point in exorcizing? I think it is for this reason that such people who could really cast out demons are not given today to us, because those who want to get rid of demons do not want to subsequently change their lives completely and live in a Christian reality. Why, then, should a person heal from this demon, when there will be seven more evil ones? Well, let him live with his one, he somehow humbles him at least. Maybe, this will make him think about his salvation some day. But if there are seven of the worst, perhaps he will never be saved. Therefore, the Lord is merciful and does not allow the worst, so there is no such obvious healings. But if people consciously struggle with this satanic force, sincerely want to correct their lives, in these cases, a person gets healed. But it does not happen as we would like to see it: someone reads prayers over the person, and the person in an instant, like by magic, became healthy, healed, no demons torment him anymore. Okay, swallow the pill and get healthy in the morning. But today it is not useful for people, and the Lord does not provide such a healing, so real healing is sometimes postponed for years, but these are years of spiritual growth. And a person who fights against these forces can get rid of them with God's help, but one can say this is a personal desire, personal effort, personal struggle. Synergistic, as they say, action, joint – the one of God and man.
Monk John: We often find this situation in practice: a woman comes, mostly women, we find out all the circumstances and problems, nothing turns out, ordinary life, at least from what concerns our problem, our spectrum. She didn’t deal with occultism, didn’t contact anyone, in general there is nothing. But a person is ill, and for us her spiritual damage is already obvious. Moreover, I often observe such a problem, which can be correctly called mediumship, that is, a person is open to the influence of spiritual forces. And this is something that was probably before the birth of a person. Because we do not find any objective reason for this in the biography.
Hegumen Ephraim: In the biography of this particular person?
Monk John: Yes, a specific person, that is, if usually we find the cause, then it is understandable. It is necessary to fight the cause, but there is nothing here, the person clearly has such a connection to spiritual forces, this is sensitivity, this is susceptibility - a whole series of signs that indicate precisely the grave spiritual presence.
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes, I very often had to deal with this. And trying to understand the reason, I examined the next of kin. And very often it happened that I established the reason, it was, as a rule, either in the mother or, often, in the grandmother. It means that a woman came who did not have such obvious falls, falling away from the Church, she did not appeal to sorcerers and psychics, she did not read any spells, but it turned out that her mother, being a gynecologist, had performed abortions all her life. And on her hands, as they say, there is the blood of thousands of murdered babies, excised and pulled out piecemeal of the mothers’ wombs. Looking repeatedly at such things, I noticed that if the mother performed abortions, and the more, the worse, the daughter or son suffered greatly from all this, they themselves did not understand. They really had serious moral, spiritual problems, life seemed to be conspiring against them, families broke up, children became alcoholics. And when you start to examine all this, where the reasons are, and the reasons turned out to be in the parents. And here I recall this is the law that God said at Sinai that children suffer for the sins of their parents.
Monk John: Well, this spiritual is present, this is not just some abstract spiritual genetics, this is a concrete demonic personality.
Hegumen Ephraim: I think that for the sins of parents, not only the parent loses the grace of the Holy Spirit, which is the only protection of a person from the influence of demonic forces, but also a child who is associated with his parents. He also loses it, because the family is a single whole. A husband and a wife is, in the Gospel expression, one flesh, and a child is the flesh of flesh of this flesh, in fact, there is a certain united spiritual being. And when parents sin, grace retreats, and, as it was simply explored by me on many people, it retreats from children. Therefore, children, left defenseless, without grace for the sins of their parents, are open to the influence of demons, and therefore they are more sensitive, as we say. We notice the so-called hypersensitivity. And often it is for the sins of the parents. This does not mean that we should again give up and stop fighting, the Lord is merciful, he loves everyone, he wants salvation for everyone, and if a person fights, if the pastor correctly guides him, then surely they can close this open gate again, and the demons will cease to influence. In fact, it means to carry out what Seraphim of Sarov spoke about in the famous conversation with Motovilov “On the Aim of the Christian Life”. That's in fact just what you need to do correctly, i.e. acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit, lost by his parents or her parents, lost by the man himself, because there is no man who lives that will not sin. We all sin, and if we do not repent of these sins, we do not try to correct, naturally, sins only accumulate, and the situation will worsen and worsen, therefore we should not lose heart. And I would also not recommend the confessor to load a person with this information: yes, it is you who suffer for your mother, since she did 10 abortions - this is unnecessary information. You just need to lead correctly, to understand everything yourself, but lead a person very carefully, because such information may cause hostility, for example, to the mother, or judging her: behold, mother, you are guilty that I am unhappy, one husband left me, the second husband is gone, the child got drunk. You did abortions, and now we all suffer because of you. Well, what will be result of it? Hate towards parents, the violation of the fifth commandment? And, in fact, this is a task that this person, if he is a Christian, can and should solve. The confessor should help, carefully, without revealing everything, because there is such a concept in medicine “medical secrecy”, and the confessor should also in some cases keep this information to himself, understand everything, but not everything needs to be said.
Monk John: Father, you also devoted a lot of time to the manifestation of spiritual forces in the sense of creativity in that your work - in “What do they want to save us from?”. You know, even when my book “Invasion” came out in 2002, or in 2004, I watched then, I had such an opportunity, the groups of children whose parents were initiated into Reiki. And observing, I described what I then saw and what I then researched. And I also saw these creative manifestations. Usually, when one talks about the action of spiritual forces, he expects something obviously negative, and in fact a creative abyss opens instead, I would call this problem so.
Hegumen Ephraim: Certainly. Well, if we say that demons are fallen angels, angels were created as perfect beings, intelligent persons, and they are even called Sons of God in the Old Testament, just like man is. That is, in essence, we are brothers, they are rational creatures of God, and we are rational spiritual creatures of God for our soul. That is, in fact, those qualities that our soul possesses are godlike qualities, i.e. mind, eternal existence, freedom of choice, in addition, it has creative abilities, since God, our common Father, the one of angels and of people, is the Creator of this world, He also gave us creative abilities. And if you ask if God's angels sing beautifully in heaven? Those who somehow turned out to be there, may be in a state of clinical death, and often simply by the special looking of God, like Paul the apostle, who ascended to the third heaven, say that they have never heard more beautiful singing and music. Who composed it? I am almost sure that this is just the work of angels, so the demons who fell away from God, but nevertheless remained angels by nature, although they use their abilities in spite, they retained all these qualities, except for love and the ability to do good, they certainly have creative abilities. And they show these abilities through the most open people. I even wrote that demons use people as a good instrument, and compared any musician performing, a violinist, or a pianist, or a cellist, performing in front of a serious audience, if he is entrusted with solo in a concert, he will certainly try to get the appropriate instrument. And he, for example, will not take the violin of the Shakhovskaya factory in order to perform in a concert, he will ask for Stradivari or Amati, at least a good German piano, a pianoforte, but in any case he understands perfectly well that he can’t play good on a bad instrument even if he is a virtuoso. Likewise, demons, when they want to express their creative abilities, they can express themselves in this material world only through a person, because they have no physical body, they choose people who can be the tool for realizing their desires in this regard. Therefore, many poets themselves admitted that they write as if from dictation. I have described several instances of such creativity in the musical field, in the painting sphere, in poetry, and in literature. Anyone interested can go to the site igumen-n.logoslovo.ru and read this book, because, although it has undergone 4 editions, but all editions were quickly sold out, now, probably, it is impossible to find this book, but it is available online. Therefore, undoubtedly, they manifest their creative abilities through people, sometimes through small children, creating through them such works that a child cannot create due to his psychological, moral, and intellectual development. That is, it is obvious that these poems, these picturesque, musical works were not created by a kid.
Monk John: Indigo children are a modern concept. That is, it turns out that these are children who are inherently...
Hegumen Ephraim: These children are mediums through which demons manifest their capabilities. As a rule, these children are born precisely in those families where either a lot of sins were made, or they were really engaged in the occult, extrasensory practices. And if you examine it closely, I established such a pattern: the majority of these children were of parents at one time devoted to witch doctresses and psychics. Of course, not for any other purpose, but for the sake of healing, but as a result, through a psychic, a magician, a sorcerer, witch doctress, an evil spirit entered this child. And then this spirit, when the child later grew up, somehow expressed itself. And these children, having very often such amazing creative abilities, are extremely antisocial: uncontrollable, hyperactive, it is impossible to cope with them, they suppress their parents, they suppress teachers, they have strong will, they break all obstacles, they don’t accept any authority. They are such rebellious revolutionaries as the first revolutionary in the world was - Satan. So those naive people who rejoice, looking at indigo children, do not understand that they grow, one might say, the employees of Satan, the army that is replenished here on the Earth.
Monk John: Well, not for nothing there is this concept of modern new-age and so on. This all says that the world is approaching to some kind of condition.
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes, the whole new age, which originates in fact from Elena Petrovna Blavatskaya.
Monk John: And in essence from the Gnostics.
Hegumen Ephraim: Well, these are more distant roots. In fact, his main goal is to bring a person into contact with certain higher cosmic forces, but it is always hidden that these forces are not just some kind of energy-information field, it is not clear what it is. This is a completely specific force, these are concrete personalities, this is just opening a man for the free influence of demonic forces, demons, i.e. the fallen angels.
Monk John: Father, I now think with such a shudder… how to distinguish the creativity, which is still namely creativity, probably, there is such a thing, and, probably, not only fallen spirits, but also higher spirits and angels are manifested in man in general from the creativity which implies a concrete realization of the work of fallen spirits? This is not that easy.
Hegumen Ephraim: Well, you know, in fact, for a professional, an artist, and a musician, and a poet it is quite easy to determine. Therefore, in general, for a person finely organized, who in his youth at least was interested in these subtle areas of human life, not only how to earn, eat, and buy another car, but who has higher demands, who has a high culture, and who knows human culture is wide, who is familiar with theater, and music, and poetry, and architecture, for such people with more subtle organization, it can be seen. This demonism manifests itself very clearly and in the spirit of the work. You understand, as a rule, a person who painted a picture under the influence of evil spirits, its charge is so terrible that any person who feels it in painting, feels it, feels beauty, and feels this evil energy. I'm not talking about such works as "Black Square" by Malevich. I saw him in the 80th year at the exhibition "Moscow-Paris" in the Moscow Pushkin Museum. I'll tell you I had a terrible impression. If we say that an icon is a window to another world, to the divine world, then this square was an icon, a window to a demonic world. Here it is obvious that many works carry this demonic element. If someone listened to Scriabin, his poem Ecstasy, he called himself the Antichrist, he performed black masses, was an open Satanist. Who listened to his music, cannot help but feel this demonic energy, it is felt.
Monk John: Rebellious. Father, let me move on some different subject and still return to the monastic world. A lot of people come to us, and to you, and we often consult each other about some kind of approach, about how to help a person. Recently, I draw your attention to the fact that a lot of monks of various ranks, when they come to the monastery, begin to engage in, let's say, health problems prevention.
Hegumen Ephraim: According to Ksenia Kravchenko's system...
Monk John: Now it doesn't even matter, there are a lot of systems. And unfortunately, when we carefully examine what lies behind this, behind this prevention, we find that in the modern world there are a lot of specially invented, I would say, tools, i.e. technologies, techniques of various kinds, which are now fashionably called medical technologies, which are focused not just on the secular public, but on the monastic world. For some reason, I noticed that in monasticism it is very common to heal back. Well, for example, we know for sure, because we are investigating problems, that today there are a lot of techniques, for example, osteopathy, which is a veiled extrasensory practice and a very serious one, like many others that are difficult to recognize. And for some reason, all these people who are integrating today, for some reason, strive mainly to provide their services in the Orthodox world, and not in the layman's world, but in the monastic world. And when I often warn people about this, I come across such arguments, we can talk a lot about it, we know quite a lot about the problem, the ontology of the problem, and often the arguments are as follows: however, a person confesses and takes Communion, it means that it will not harm him. And in my opinion, here a question of some kind of magic arises, a magical attitude to the Sacrament. Maybe, I'm wrong?
Hegumen Ephraim: I will say more. In my practical spiritual life, there were cases when sorcerers and psychics came, as it turned out later.
Monk John: For your soul?
Hegumen Ephraim: No, not for my soul, they just came to the Church, regularly received Communion and formally confessed, well, for example, that on a fast day on Wednesday they ate a ferial candy. That is, confession, as you understand, can be built, both formally and falsely. But nevertheless they came to the Church, received Communion and were either sure that they are Orthodox Christians, I had to meet with such psychics who refused outright to understand that the forces with which they act and help, as they think, people in diseases, that these forces are not divine, because, for instance, this woman is a psychic, she had 5 or 6 abortions and a lot of illegal connections in addition to her own husband. And at the same time, she considers herself a deeply religious person, regularly attends Church and receives Communion.
There were cases when the sorcerers took Communion, and surprisingly, thunder did not strike, the earth did not open up and swallow them. I remember the case described by Motovilov. Already after the death of Seraphim of Sarov, I think that many read about it, once he stopped at an inn and because it gets dark very early in the winter and there was nothing to do, he lit a candle in a candlestick and decided to read his diary entries. He had such a habit, wherever he went, he described some interesting events. And so, he reads: The other day, he stayed at the estate of the Eropkins noblemen. Eropkina maiden, who was then 40 years old already, as they say now an old maid, was possessed by a demon and from time to time it was quite actively manifested in movements and cries. Possessed by a demon. For the past 30 years, she had been attacked by an evil spirit. And when I asked her if she received Communion, I was told that yes, she regularly receives Communion in the temple. And yet, the evil spirit does not come out of her, but she takes the Communion. And so, as you remember, when Motovilov thought so proudly of himself: “Would the evil spirit dare to enter into me, I regularly take Communion, sincerely confess. I would show him! It would be the grace of God in me that would burn him. In this he was a self-conceit, and we know how it ended, he suffered from a demon later as much as this maiden suffered, exactly 30 years, as Seraphim of Sarov predicted to him that the demon will come out only when worshipping the relics of Mitrophan of Voronezh, which happened exactly after 30 years.
Monk John: So he was entered by the demon which was there?
Hegumen Ephraim: No, it was not necessarily the same one, no.
Monk John: But at that moment when he thought so?
Hegumen Ephraim: When he thought, he describes it, he saw some kind of translucent cloud in the room, from which a deadly terrible cold breathed. This cloud came close to his face, and he realized that it wanted to go inside, he clenched his lips and teeth, but nevertheless this cloud entered him, and this cold filled all the guts. Since then, the demon tortured him from time to time. Nevertheless, we know such cases, when a person is clearly having an evil spirit in himself, but leads more or less pious life, regularly takes Communion, and the devil does not come out. That is we cannot say that always in all cases automatically, if a person takes Communion, he will be protected by God, and the demon will not enter. If a psychic goes to church, confesses formally and takes Communion, and never says that he is a psychic, that he deals with such things, healings and so on, but he takes Communion, and this guarantees that the Holy Spirit lives in him, and he acts solely by the Holy Spirit… No, this does not work like that. In this case, this is exactly what the apostle Paul spoke about: he eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, but one must remember that God is not mocked.
Monk John: Unfortunately, today, even with respect to some famous people who, in my opinion, bring many problems to the Orthodox world, to my opponents with whom we have argued for many years, as an argument we hear a very simple pseudo-axiom: they take Communion and confess.
Hegumen Ephraim: This is what I was talking about - in essence, the answer. Yes, they, being psychics, having contact with the demonic world, go and take Communion. And they convince themselves that they are good, and convince others of this.
Monk John: The same monk living in the monastery, let’s take such an ideal monk, wanted to go and get his back healed. He went and got into the hands of a psychic. A person who is still spiritually oriented, from the first or second time will understand that something is wrong, but he does not understand. Here a whole system of treatment begins, which is very doubtful, but the person gives the right for it, and thus, in my opinion, gives the right to those spiritual forces that are behind this wrecker. Is it really like this that the Sacraments protect a person in this situation? Or the Sacraments form the mind in a person which teaches the discernment of spirits, everything can be connected here, and not just covered with such a protector and that's all. This is an ambiguous approach.
Hegumen Ephraim: I agree that if a person leads an attentive spiritual way of life, remains in prayer in the fight against passions, then the Lord does give the gift of reasoning, and we sometimes get surprised...
Monk John: That is, not only covers, but gives the gift of reasoning. This is the cover.
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes, and we noticed this in our church history, when it happened that the hierarchs lapsed into heresy, and some simple old women, having the Spirit in themselves, not knowing these theological subtleties, felt: here is a lie, and here is the truth. And wherever there was a lie, and whoever used it, no matter how good a hierarch or a speaker or a preacher is, they still felt it with the Spirit. This is the spirit that the Lord gave, the discernment of spirits. What does this mean? This means that the monasticism itself as a form of life or certain clothes does not protect at all, and if a person does not have the gift to discern spirits, then of course it is sad because he can really get into the hands of a psychic and not feel it possibly.
Monk John: Father, there is another small topic. You have baptized many people in your practice, haven’t you?
Hegumen Ephraim: Well, at one time, yes, especially in the 80s, when mandatory registration was canceled, when all data on the parents of the baptized child were transferred to the city executive committee, and they were transferred to the district committee, and then the parents were summoned to a party meeting or directorate and deprived of prizes and so on, when this practice was canceled, and people stopped being afraid to be baptized, then they went simply by hundreds, that was the time.
Monk John: So there was no time even to prepare them?
Hegumen Ephraim: I always talked with them, I always catechized them. For 40 minutes I talked, telling about Orthodoxy, about the Sacrament, the responsibility of Christians and baptized ones, as far as possible. But as it is now, of course, this is the correct practice, I believe, not to baptize without catechizing. If a person does not want to listen, if he does not want to understand what the essence of Christianity is, wants to formally perform, then do not baptize him, this Baptism will not help him in anything. On the contrary, it will lay responsibility, but he will not bear it and does not want to bear it. Therefore, this is the correct practice of returning to the old canons. Indeed, it is impossible to baptize without catechizing. But then hundreds were baptized, so at that time I had a huge practice. Now, of course, I rarely baptize anyone. So, your question?
Monk John: There are two problems here that I would like to consider. First: we professionally observe one phenomenon, an anomalous phenomenon. When it comes to people who have fallen away from the Church, those who shall undergo the accession rite, everything is clear: they fell away, being, as a rule, unprepared for Baptism, it was massive Baptism, they did not know the basics of Christian dogma, there are many reasons for them to fall away, plus they were engaged in some practices, and because of this, we consider them fallen away. But we notice that the people who came to Baptism and before that were engaged in some kind of practices and were simply baptized, they suffer and suffer as well for many, many years. And only then it occurred to correct the same tricks in the world view and in many other things that they had once before Baptism. And we often dare to recommend that people who are really seriously engaged in some occult practices, be they Eastern or pseudo-European, roughly speaking, or they were in some sects, also need the same, for example, as Muslims according to Euchologion of Peter Mohyla, you need to accept not just through baptism, but by the rite through baptism, the first rite. The Jews, who must be accepted, then, in principle, the pagans, too, must be accepted in this way. And we often raise the question that in modern times these people are simply baptized, but something more is expected. What could you say about this? There is no rite, we cannot perform a rite for the baptism of Hare Krishnas, for someone else. No, you need to write every time, there are no such formulas.
Hegumen Ephraim: Well, the very fact that our fathers developed the rite of baptism of the Hagarians, they are Muslims.
Monk John: Well, yes, although you could just baptize. No, it turns out.
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes, although it would seem that sins are forgiven in Baptism, false views remain in consciousness, therefore fathers found it necessary not just to baptize, but to introduce this rite into the Sacrament of Baptism, add the rite of renunciation of these false attitudes. As you rightly say, both Judaism and Islam have their own very important views, very different from Orthodoxy. It is impossible to combine them, so this rite was made. And this is an indication for us that if we baptize a person who was mistaken or was in some kind of heretical communities, or occult societies, or Eastern societies, for which the rite was not made up earlier, because, for example, let’s take the Byzantine Empire: what were their ties with India? Have any of the Brahmins or Kshatriyas been baptized?
Monk John: Well, yes, this is a rare occurrence.
Hegumen Ephraim: Well, I'm not sure, maybe there were some wars, and prisoners were captured...
Monk John: There is the accession rite for those coming from paganism, there is the accession rite for the first form of paganism. Only paganism can be various.
Hegumen Ephraim: Paganism is various. We now - because the world, thanks to the means of transportation - airplanes, trains, steamboats, thanks to the media - television, radio, the Internet, are united, the world is very united, and we all know something about each other. Now there are no countries where people do not know about Christianity, so we have become somewhat closer formally, not spiritually, but this made life more difficult. Today, there are those who come from some cults, which our ancestors did not even know, it means that we will have to make new rites for them, just as our ancestors made up for Jews, Muslims, and pagans. But simply, each cult has its own characteristics, and therefore it is necessary, probably, when accepting adults who understand how the land lies, to make them renounce these wrong opinions.
Monk John: Well, beginning our practice and our cooperation with you, it is clear that it is impossible to make a rite. The rite involves the approval of the church council and so on. Since so many people today come with different misconceptions, how can we create the rites for all of them? In this situation, after all, you as a confessor, as a practitioner, what can you offer? Maybe at least just before baptism, in several formulas, in the form of an interview or some other act to offer a renunciation of those basic dogmas in which a person was mistaken? Or is here much difficulty, is it not so easy to solve?
Hegumen Ephraim: Well, if a priest can understand the meaning of this cult, from which a person comes, then, it seems to me, it is completely canonical, based on the experience of the fathers who made up these rites, but could not foresee what would happen in the future, to act in the same manner, i.e. ask some questions and demand a renunciation of some false ideological, religious views, so to supplement this rite.
Monk John: But this is for the sake of a person, as I understand it, since we are talking about spiritual forces, then we can say that such an act, such a rite implies that a person comes to the baptismal basin already being left by evil forces, protected by this act of renunciation of spiritual forces, whom he served. All the same, it has some sacral meaning, such an act.
Hegumen Ephraim: This is what we started with. When at the councils they demanded a renunciation from heretics, there were cases when this heretic insisted, tried to prove, the fathers said to him: you first renounce, anathematize, and then we will argue with you. But it is interesting that he, having anathematized his heresy, suddenly felt that he had no more questions.
Monk John: Well, it was so with the Nestorians and with some followers.
Hegumen Ephraim: Yes, you remember. Why? It is interesting that the evil spirit that inspired and forced to persist, at the time of anathematizing this delusion, retreated. And the man came to his senses and understood that there were no questions, everything was clear. Just a stupefaction of the mind, which sometimes the demon causes to the most rational person, that is the reason why we do not understand each other very often. It seems that there are two intelligent people, clever, well-educated and from the secular, and from the spiritual side, and they often cannot reach an understanding with each other. For one reason: very often, one or both of them are subject to a demonic influence, which darkens the mind and a person cannot think clearly. But when he is free from this demonic influence, he says: it seems as if the mind has opened up in me, I began to understand what was previously unavailable and incomprehensible to me. So I think this is the practice that fathers used, and we can use it successfully as well.
Monk John: Much to our regret, at the end of the day we must state that in many years of work we have very few like-minded people. There are more and more problems, but less like-minded people. And we often encounter such fatal misunderstanding and even rejection of those approaches and those methods that we have been implementing for many years in acts of pastoral care.
Hegumen Ephraim: Unfortunately, that’s what I said that we all came out of the Soviet society, where everything religious was repressed, and people lived a secular godless life, sinned, then repented, came to the Church, but very often they came to the Church being already damaged, sometimes even underwent initiation, that is, there is already a demon in them or very close to them, so the demon has the right and affects their consciousness very strongly. These people, sometimes even becoming priests, cannot understand these things, they are closed to this, their consciousness is closed, they are exposed to this demonic effect. Therefore, after such a long extermination of faith, it is difficult to expect anything else. This is the fact. In addition, of course, it is very disappointing that even the Latin papists teach demonology in seminaries and academies, but we do not have it. If there is no enemy, if we do not know with whom we are at war, if we do not know their methods of struggle, their tactics, their strategy, weapons, deployment, how can we win this war? And the war is lead against spiritual wickedness in high places, and we do not know anything about them, therefore, of course, nobody understands you. Therefore, you have few followers, people who would support you, it is sad, but it is a fact.
Monk John: But at the same time, having the experience of not only 100, and not tens, but thousands of people who, one way or another, underwent rehabilitation with us, seeing these positive results, and you see them too, of course we grieve a little about this and try to do everything possible to attract like-minded people to us, and so that priests and local clergy could use, let's say, the tools we’ve already tried, the very old ones. And you, father, are the witness of that. We ask for your prayers.
Hegumen Ephraim: May God help you! I believe that your center does an enormous and important work, and, of course, it is very pitiful that there are practically no such centers anymore.
Monk John: Well, I hope to God. May the Lord save you.