No matter where we run, no matter where we hide, the devil will always follow. If he doesn’t present himself in one form, he will in another.
For monks who go to the desert he presents himself as a naked woman or takes visible form. For the man living in the world he uses those who are ignorant even the baptized and the clergy.
For example you’re fasting during lent and all of a sudden that friend you have whom you know would never offer you a bite to eat, asks you if you’d like a nice bite of his cream bun.
I had a friend once call me up and ask me if I’d like to go to a prostitute with him and guess what…in all our years of knowing each other this lad wouldn’t buy you so much as a Happy meal let alone drop all that money on you to go to a prostitute.
So much was his desire that I become like him and enter into his world of promiscuity. This was before my conversion and I remember agreeing to it. We arrived and nobody was there, nobody answered the door. I like to think it was Gods providence that protected me that day. What was I in the middle of doing? I was in the process of reading Holy things and trying to regain peace in my life.
The Devil saw this and along came this ”friend” of mine with a better idea. I was in the middle of reading and praying the rosary one night when he called again. ”Hey it’s on man they’re going to be there tonight”. I will never forget how liberating it was to turn around and say ”No, I’m not interested”.
From that day forward our friendship dissolved like Aspirin in water.
The devil uses men and women to tempt us which I find more scary than memory or him showing himself to me in a dream. Men will do more damage than any demonic spirit will. Ignorant souls are the devils best weapon because even they are beyond temptation and there’s not much work to be done when they’re involved.
St.Maximos the confessor in his texts on Love tells us that Jesus was tempted both ways, both by men (the pharisees) and in the desert by Satan where he presented himself in true form.
Why does he show himself to those who have retreated to a monastery or desert and not to the ordinary person living in the world? It is a good question isn’t it?
I think it’s important to note that God permits Satan to show himself so there’s a reason for it. However Satan won’t show himself to the ordinary human because it would make him obvious that he exists. He does more damage hiding behind the curtain of mans ignorance.
He shows himself to the monk in the desert first to the amateur monk through memory and sometimes dreams and to the advanced Monk he will toss around and go to war with. He will present himself as a beautiful light and angel or as a naked woman.
This is because the advanced monk already knows him. The cat is out of the bag and he’s no longer spiritually blind but tuned in now in an almost perfect awareness of what the spiritual realm.
Therefore the Devil has to work harder now.
We’ve talked briefly about the Devil tempting us through humans and showing himself. What about dreams?
All the Fathers agree that the state of our dreams will determine the state of our soul. So if we are earthly in any way our dreams will reflect that.
But that doesn’t mean the devil has entered the dream either. Your dreams are a reflection of the state of your soul.
However there is a point where the devil can enter. You’ll know by the anxiety and utter fear you experience.
The entrance of him into my dreams is rare. When he does come it’s always the same dream or similar.
I am being pulled down to Hell. There is a lot of screaming from me in the dream. I try to pray the St.Michaels prayer ”St.Michael the Archangel defend us in the day of battle” etc etc but he won’t let me speak. Every time I open my mouth or force the words out he seals my mouth shut.
I don’t stop trying and I always manage to blurt out in a loud voice ST.MICHAELLLL THE ARCHANGELLLL DEFEND…US……IN….THE……DAY OF BATTLE…….
Then I awake in a heavy sweat and the presence of the evil one still in the room I pray a little more and then go to sleep again.
Another night it was a beautiful woman in my dream. I went to make the sign of the cross in my dream and the devil wouldn’t let me. Like the same force he used to seal my mouth shut he used to prevent me from making the sign of the Cross. When I eventually did I woke up.
Dreams you see are that unaware state where the devil can enter in whatever form he likes. It’s the only one where it’s closest to being in the desert like the monk.
The best way to deal with it is to allow it to takes its course, thank God for allowing it as it’s a gift that we progress even more in our faith and also a warning that we could do better in our daily prayer life.
I know mine isn’t too good but prayer is the only way to eliminate him but I often find the most difficult temptations to deal with are the ones that come from living in the world and men themselves.
Lets pray for each other.