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When is a Place Defiled by the Demons?

An Orthodox Ethos Original Article - Homily translated from Geronda Athanasios Mitilinaios

In anticipation of our article explaining that the question of vaccines is not only a medical question (despite many bishops and priests shamefully telling their flock this), we at Orthodox Ethos have translated a homily from Geronda Athanasios Mitilinaios that states demons do indeed inhabit places and things. Fr. Athanasios explains further in this catechetical homily how this is possible. We strongly encourage our readers to study the holy elder's words since it is a part of the Orthodox phronema which is now important for us to understand when faced with the dangers and temptations we suffer in these days.


When is a Place Defiled by the Demons?

From a Homily delivered on the 30th of March 1990, on the fifth Friday of Great Lent (Friday of the Akathist Hymn).

Now we come to a second point, once again from Abba John. He said the following: “My children, let us not defile [1] this place, which our fathers cleansed from demons.” We are truly speaking of the defilement of a place. Could you ever imagine that there is also defilement of demons? This saying is deep, but to many it is also unknown: can a place be defiled by demons?

The prayers of exorcism in the prayer book of our Church are replete with this position, namely, that a place can be defiled, that is, a place can be polluted, by the presence of demons. For example, a prayer of St. Basil says the following, when the priest addresses the man being exorcised, and of course he is really addressing the demons: “Fear and flee, unclean and accursed spirit, whether coming upon him unawares, whether from the sea, or a river, or from beneath the earth, or from a well, or a ravine, or a hollow, or a lake, or a thicket of reeds, or from woodlands, or from a grove, or a thicket, or a tree, whether from the roof of a bath or a pool of water, or from a pagan sepulcher or from any place where you may lurk, from whence we know and whence we know not.”

Oh, so demons can come from some place? So demons can defile a certain place? Yes! What is it that defiles a place? It is sin in general. Pay attention to this: it’s sin in general, the sin that is committed in a certain place. More specifically, it’s sexual sins, and also pagan rituals, and the performance of magical acts. These things defile a place; and this place becomes a habitation of the demons, just as those men that do these magical, demonic things also become a habitation, a dwelling-place, of the demons. In any case, though, first man is defiled by the demons and after that is the place defiled.

And how is a place cleansed? Did you see how Abba John told his disciples not to defile the place since the fathers had cleansed it? But how indeed? Listen: a place is cleansed, first, by exorcisms, that is, by the expulsion of the demons; second, by Holy Water, and third and most importantly, by the holy life of men. It was as if Abba John were saying to his disciples, “Brethren, do not sin. Our forefathers have sanctified this place; therefore please do not defile it with sins! Since they drove out the demons.

So, my dear people, whenever we get anything new, a house, a field, a machine, a car, anything, first we do the blessing of the waters, precisely so as to remove far from this place any possibly inhabiting demons. The same is done to those about to be baptized. Two are the places in this case, the water in the baptismal font and the man about to be baptized. Both the one and the other are dwelling-places of the demons. That’s precisely why the exorcisms are said, so as to expel from the water and to expel from the heart and body of the man the demons that lurk there. Pay attention to this: they lurk, they make their lair there. This is very characteristic. This is the reason why we say these exorcisms, at which time the catechumen looks westward and the priest (the one priest that’s there, or if there are two, then one of them); and then we come to the font and, once we have expelled the demons from the water as well, we perform the baptism.

The folk belief in ghosts originates from here. Not that it’s the soul of the dead man, of course; when each man dies, no matter how sinful he might be, his soul goes to its appropriate place. Man’s soul does not haunt places, it does not become a vampire; instead, the demons impersonate the souls of men, especially the souls of the sinful, because those men had defiled the place with their sin, and so now the demons come and inhabit this place where a man had sinned, and thus make this place unclean. Do not think that these are fairy-tales; they are entirely true. Therefore unclean is the place where a sin was committed.

Now pay attention to one thing more. Unclean is also the place where a treasure—money—has been hidden in a dirty way. You know, for forty-fifty years now—I won’t mention the incidents that occurred here in Greece [2]—huge amounts of money were hidden, were buried. Do you know under what conditions this money was often hidden and buried? Under murderous conditions; many were murdered. Oftentimes men would go to hide a treasure (which they had of course stolen from who-knows-where). I know personally of such a story: there was four of them; they hid the treasure, and then the one murdered the other three so that he could one day return back to Greece and find the treasure. Demons sit upon such treasures, because it is a polluted place, because there men have killed each other. You must have heard such stories many times, and as you very well know, in our age some travel the mountains on motor-bikes so as to find money and treasure. I repeat: these places are defiled, they are dirty. How are they dirty? Because demons are sitting there. And should someone actually find that money, it’s impossible for it to come to any good, it’s impossible! That’s why, my dear ones, as Abba John tells us here, let’s be careful not to defile the place where we live, whether by injustice or by immorality, or by any thing whatsoever, by sin in general. The place is defiled, the persons and bodies of men are defiled, even objects are defiled. In the New Testament the following is written. Jude, the brother our Lord, says, “Do not take and do not wear clothes from the skin of sinful men” (cf. Jude 23). Clothes that have come into contact with the skin of sinful men, don’t take them and don’t use them.

You might regard what I’ve told you tonight as odd, even fanciful. That is not so! I even used Holy Scripture. Let us therefore be careful. Only virtue and holiness can drive out the demons and purify a place. They purify the place, and they also purify the bodies. That is why, my dear ones, we are cleansed by confession. With Holy Communion we are sanctified, and we become holy. And when we have a holy place, a holy body, a holy soul, then the demons are driven away and never come again.


Endnotes:

[1] The Greek verb used in this quotation (ῥυπόω) and the variation used throughout the text (ῥυπαίνω) mean “make foul and filthy, befoul” and “defile, disfigure, be or become foul, get dirty; metaphorically, contaminate, infect” respectively (LSJ).

[2] Fr. Athanasius is probably referring to the Second World War, the Greek Civil War, and the mass emigration that followed them.


Original YouTube clip here.

Posted on October 19th, 2021

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