October 10 – Tuesday of the Nineteenth Week after Pentecost (4th of Luke) Luke 8:1-3
Wisdom’s Children, continued – Freed from Evil Spirits: Luke 8:1-3, especially vs. 2: “And certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities – Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons. . . .” According to Blessed Theophylact, “Just as there are seven spirits of virtue, so also there are seven spirits of wickedness. There is . . . the spirit of the fear of God, and its opposite, the spirit of irreverence, which does not fear God. There is the spirit of understanding, and its opposite, the spirit of incomprehension. . . . Unless these seven spirits of wickedness are cast out of the soul, one cannot follow Christ. First Satan must be cast out; only then can Christ dwell within” (Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke, p. 83).
When Theophylact speaks of seven virtues or gifts of the Holy Spirit, he is referring to the list first given to us by the Prophet Isaiah (Is 11:2-3). If we wish for Christ to dwell within us, we must not overlook the evil and impure spirits “which hideth and . . . operateth through the prompting of the devil” (baptismal prayer of exorcism). These demons constantly try to snare and defile us.
Yet we give thanks to God, for we are partakers of Christ in sure hope of “the power of the Holy Spirit, in the unity of . . . Christ: that we might be no more children of the body, but children of Christ’s Kingdom.” Let us never make the mistake, however, of supposing that because we have received the seal of the Holy Spirit, Satan is no longer aiming his machinations at our souls and pursuing their destruction. We must stay alert against him!
To this end, we wisely consider Theophylact’s lists as windows into our spiritual state. We hold fast to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, without minimizing the seven dreadful demonic spirits that would pull us back into the bondage of the enemy, if we let down our guard: foolishness, deceit, apathy, incomprehension, delusion, perversion, and irreverence.
To preserve “the earnest of the Spirit pure and undefiled unto the dread Day of Christ,” as the Church prays during the mystery of chrismation, we must commit ourselves to the path of Mary Magdalene. She stays with the Lord. He frees everyone who clings to Him from the evil spirits and infirmities that prevent us from receiving healing from the Wisdom of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.
In our contemporary secular, neo-pagan culture, life is presented in distorted, non-spiritual terms. Masses of people live without reference to their Creator, proud of what they “achieve.” These unfortunate souls have no gratitude to God, nor do they acknowledge their dependence on Him. Worse, they have no inkling of their enslavement to impure spirits.
Satan’s greatest achievement in the present age has been to convince many people that there are no evil spirits. Let us refuse to fall prey to glittering techniques that promise us success through slick forms of enlightenment. Wisdom’s children “have received the heavenly Spirit.”
Our Orthodox faith provides spiritual strength for living, for breaking the domination of the dark forces that human power cannot control. The impact of the demons and foul spirits can be observed all around us. Hearts and minds are surrendered to fate as if it were a fact of life.
Let us be children of Wisdom, like Mary Magdalene, trusting God and thanking Him every day for our existence. We are children of God and thus free from dead materialism and deceit of those who deny the existence of evil powers. We draw from Christ the power to cast out the demonic spirits. Christ gives His Spirit to the Church to illumine our former darkness, to keep us wise and free, and save our souls.
Be merciful to me, O Master of all, that my soul not behold the lurid glance of the cunning demons who would drag me to the depths of hell, but protect me and be my Defender. – Saint Theophan the Recluse