Monday, September 26, 2005

Something You Always Wanted to Know About Praying but Were Afraid to Ask

I just came across this in Part II of 'Elder Arsenios the Cave-Dweller' in the new Divine Ascent. I don't know about anyone else, and maybe I'm just a little weird, but this is something that I genuinely wondered about:
Another young man asked, 'Elder what should I do? When I go to the "place" because of my needs, the demon of uncleanness fights with me.'
'Oh!' the Elder replied. 'You should fight him by continually saying the prayer very fast.'
'But Elder, can we say the prayer in the toilet?'
'What? Oh, in the place of need!' (Thus he called the toilet in proper Pontian). Who told you that you couldn't? Didn't the apostle say to pray unceasingly? If you fight, I'll fight. Are you putting thoughts in him? I'll pull them out with the prayer.' [He seems to say this latter to the devil.]
'Don't you know the example of the young man who prayed so much that he distressed Satan? One time, the tempter became furious from the prayers and found an opportunity, as the youth was going to the bathroom. He appears in front of him and says: "Aren't you ashamed to say the prayer on the toilet?" And immediately the youth said "Yes, and I'll say the prayer on the crapper until I get all the crap out of my soul!"'
'Satan couldn't stand it; he was furious and vanished into thin air.'


Blogger Andrew Middleton said...

Remarkable! It's always nice to be reminded of how practical and down-to-earth the Saints are!
Very tangentially, this made me think of the last article published by Philip Sherrard (funnily enough, also in Divine Ascent!) "The Desert Fathers and Ourselves" where Sherrard questions the ability of a person traveling in a machine that is destroying God's creation (such as a car or plane) to be in a state of grace. A different question completely...more theoretical, certainly, as it seems was Sherrard's tendency...

7:12 PM EDT  
Blogger aaronandbrighid said...

Yeah, I remember that. Unfortunately, I'm not sufficiently perceptive of the actions of grace to be able to respond to it. But I would think that any of the saints and elders would be, and as we know that many of them have used such machines in the 20th century, surely they would have said something to the rest of us if they had noticed a departure of grace when they boarded the airplane or whatever.

7:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Andrew Middleton said...

I think you're right...I remember having heated arguments with a good friend (a great Sherrard fan) regarding this...I took final refuge in Saint Silouan who, when Elder Sophrony plucked a leaf from a tree while going for a walk on the Holy Mountain noted, "The leaf you plucked from the was not a sin...just a pity for the little leaf."

8:57 PM EDT  

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