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OTT (Text) -- 4

12 All the demons teach the soul to be a lover of pleasure; only the demon of sorrow, then, does not condescend to practise this, but corrupts even the thoughts of those [pleasures)] which have come into our mind, intercepting and drying up every pleasure of the soul through sorrow, if, indeed: ‘The bones of a sorrowful man become dry.’ [Prov. 17, 22.] And if this demon wars moderately, it makes the anchorite tested, for it persuades him to approach none of the things of this world, and to make a detour round every pleasure.

If it persists more obstinately, it gives birth to thoughts which advise the soul to lead itself out in an underhanded way, or which constrain it to flee far from the place, which very thing has been concluded and has been suffered by the holy Job when he was being greatly troubled by this demon: ‘Would that I were able to lay hands on myself or that, having asked another, he would do this for me.’ [Job 30, 24.] The symbol of this demon is the viper, the beast of which the venom given philanthropically destroys the venoms of the other beasts, but, taken without measure, destroys the very living being. Paul committed the man who had transgressed in Corinth to this very demon [cf. 1 Cor. 5, 5], for which reason he writes again with haste, saying to the Corinthians: ‘Confirm charity to him, lest such a one be swallowed up in greater sorrow.’ [2 Cor. 2, 7–8.] But he knows this very spirit, straitening men, to become the means of repentance [cf. 2 Cor. 7, 10]. Whence, St John the Baptist calls those who are pricked by this demon and who are fleeing to God for refuge ‘the brood of vipers’, saying: ‘Who showed you to flee from the future wrath? Bear fruit, therefore, worthy of repentance and do not think to say in yourselves: we have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able from these very stones to raise up children to Abraham.’ [Matt. 3, 7–9.] However, everyone who imitates Abraham and goes out from his land and his relatives has become stronger than this demon [cf. Gen. 12, 1].

13 If anyone has prevailed over temper, he has prevailed over demons. If one has been enslaved to temper, he is completely alien to the monastic life and a stranger to the ways of our Saviour, if, indeed, the Lord himself is said to teach the meek his ways [cf. Ps. 24, 9]. Therefore the mind of those who live the life of solitude becomes hard to hunt down when it flees to the field of meekness. For the demons have feared almost none of the virtues as much as meekness. This virtue Moses, that great man, acquired, being called ‘meek more than all men’ [Num. 12, 3]; and the holy David pronounced it worthy of the remembrance of God, saying: ‘Remember David and all his meekness.’ [Ps. 131, 1.] But even the Lord himself commanded us to become imitators of his meekness, saying: ‘Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find repose for your souls.’ [Matt. 11, 29.] If, then, someone were to abstain from food and drink but to inflame his temper with evil thoughts, he would be similar to a boat sailing on the high seas with a demon as pilot. Therefore care must be taken, with as much strength as we have, for our dog, and one must teach it to destroy only the wolves and not to eat up the sheep, showing every meekness to all men [cf. Tit. 3, 2].

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