In 1986 I spent fourteen days in retreat at Saint Tikhon's Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. Staying in the monastic quarters, I had two weeks of wonderful fellowship with fellow monastics, worshiping in their temple, eating with them in trapeza, walking the trails through their forest, praying in their large Orthodox cemetery, and visiting the seminary bookstore.
One night I was awakened around two in the morning with a knock at the door, with someone calling my name. Startled out of a sound sleep, I realized my name was being called in unison by three voices, in a mocking tone, and that the knocking was not on the door to my cell, but on the outside wall. Frightened, I reached out in total darkness, grabbing my prayer rope from the night stand. The voices called out, "Father Tryphon, Father Tryphon, Father Tryphon", from the other side of the door, then moving to a wall opposite my bed. The knocking continued from the outside wall.
I said nothing, for I immediately realized the voices were demonic, and mocking me by calling with three voices, since Tryphon means, "three voices". I was too frightened to get up, but continued praying the Jesus Prayer for about an hour. Once the voices stopped, I managed to reach for the light which was next to the door, got up to light a lampada before the icons, and returned to bed, where I continued the Jesus Prayer.
Following the morning service, I went outside to see if there was a tree branch that had been tapping against the outside of my room. There were not only no trees, but there were no footprints in the snow which had fallen the day before.
During trapeza that next afternoon, I told the assembled monks what had happened, and my recounting was met with silence. I spent the rest of the day thinking they all were thinking poor Father Tryphon must be mentally ill.
Later that evening while sitting with one of the monks in the kitchen, eating a microwaved potato, he brought up the subject. He said the silent response from the monks was the result of shock, for it had happened to the last monk who had stayed in that cell. He went on to tell me that the cell next to mine had been used as a storage room for years, following an exorcism service that their bishop had performed a number of years earlier. When the second need for an exorcism arose, the room was abandoned.
I share this experience in order to remind my readers that demons do exist, and they are the enemies of God, and the enemies of human kind. They use trickery and deception to bring us down, and they serve the devil, who is the great deceiver. It is important that we never enter into conversation with them, and never answer them, whether they speak to us directly as happened to me, or tempt us through evil thoughts. They can have no power over us unless we give it to them. Our God is more powerful than the devil and all the fallen angels, and they can be dispersed by calling upon the Holy Name of Jesus.
When those demons called out to me, had I responded, they would have gained power over me. By remaining silent, and calling upon the name of Jesus, they left me. We blessed my room with holy water that evening, lit the lampada before the icons, and they were gone.
With love in Christ,
The Morning Offering (Blogspot)
Daily Inspiration from All-Merciful Saviour Monastery
Used with permission.