My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
Saint John Chrysostom
O Eternal God, Who has redeemed the race of men from the captivity of the devil, deliver Thy servant/handmaid from all the workings of unclean spirits. Command the evil and impure spirits and demons to depart from the soul and body of Your servant/handmaid and not to remain nor hide in him/her. Let them be banished from this the creation of Thy hands in Thine own Holy Name and that of Thine Only-begotten Son, and of Thy Life-creating Spirit, so that, after being cleansed from all demonic influence, he/she may live godly, justly and righteously and may be counted worthy to receive the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) of Thine Only-begotten Son and our God with Whom Thou art blessed and glorified together with the All-Holy and Good and Life-creating Spirit and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
O Thou Who rebuked all unclean spirits and by The power of Thy Word has banished the legion, come now, through Thine Only-begotten Son upon this creature, which Thou hast fashioned in Thine Own Image and deliver him/her from the adversary that holds him/her in bondage, so that, receiving Thy mercy and becoming purified, he/she might join the ranks of Thy holy flock and be preserved as a living temple of the Holy Spirit and might receive the divine and holy Mysteries through the grace and compassion and loving kindness of Thine Only-begotten Son with Whom Thou art Blessed together with Thine All-Holy and life-giving Spirit now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On June 27th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honor and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: our Righteous Father Samson the Hospitable; Holy Myrrh-bearer Joanna; Holy Martyr Anectus of Caesarea in Cappadocia; St. Luke the Hermit; Holy Martyrs Marcius and Marcia who were perfected in martyrdom by the sword; Holy Hieromartyr Pierius, Presbyter of Antioch, was perfected in martyrdom by fire; Holy Martyr Zoilus of Cordova and his nineteen fellow Holy Martyrs; Saint Severus the Presbyter of Interocrea in Italy; the blessed Martin of Turov; our Righteous Father Serapion of Kozhezersk; Holy Hieromartyr Gregory, Priest of the Women's Monastery of Saint Mary Magdalene in Nikolsk, who was slain by the atheists (communists) in the year 1918.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, holy Martyrs, holy Hermits, holy Hieromartyrs, holy Presbyters, holy Mothers, holy Fathers, holy Myrrh-bearers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
OUR RIGHTEOUS FATHER SAMSON THE HOSPITABLE. Saint Samson was from Rome and flourished during the reign of Saint Justinian the Great. Being a physician, he came to Constantinople, where he so distinguished himself for his virtue and his love for the sick and the poor that Patriarch Menas ordained him priest. The Emperor Justinian was healed by him, and out of gratitude built him a large hospital, which was afterwards known as "The Hospice of Samson." Saint Samson is one of the Holy Unmercenaries (Anargyroi).
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone
In thy patience thou has won they reward, O righteous Father. Thou didst persevere unceasingly in prayer; thou didst love the poor, and didst provide for them in all things. Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God, O blessed and godly-minded Samson, that our souls be saved.
Kontakion Hymn. Plagal of Fourth Tone
We come together, praising thee with hymns and psalms, O righteous one, as an unrivalled physician and as an intercessor pleasing unto God; O divinely-wise Samson, ever having recourse to thy godly shrine for help, we glorify Christ Jesus, Who gave thee the grace to work they cures.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Romans 9:6-19
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Matthew 10:32-36; 11:1
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE WORKS OF THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"There is no relationship so close as that of husband and wife, if they are united as they ought to be." (Saint John Chrysostom)
EXORCISM IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
By Rev. George C. Papademetriou, Ph.D.
The Doctrine of Evil
To understand the Orthodox view and practice of exorcism, one must know the Orthodox presuppositions of evil and its doctrine of Satan. The Patristic (holy Fathers of the Church) evidence points to the fact that the cause of evil in the world is the devil. The devil was created by God as an Angel, who was free, and as a free agent chose to oppose the plan of God. That is, the devil is a fallen angel. Satan is not evil by nature, but by will and action. In Satan there is no truth whatsoever; he is absolute falsehood and deception. Satan is not just a negation or deprivation of good, but a positive force with free will that always chooses evil. The devil has the ability to recognize divine power, as in the incident of recognizing Christ as the Son of God (St. Matt. 4:1-11; St. Luke 4:1-3). Satan has under his leadership legions and invisible powers, with their own "satanic teachings". The devil and evil spirits know that God exists and recognize true and devoted Christians, but pious Christians discern the plans of the devil. The devil, however, constantly employs every method of deception to enslave man to satanic forces and causes rebellion against God. He is the cause of corruption and disorder, a parasitic power in the world that will ultimately be destroyed by the power of God in the "last days." Because there is no compromise between God and the devil, the struggle will continue until the end.
The Orthodox doctrine of God is that He is Eternal, Uncreated and Incorporeal. All other creatures, both visible and invisible, were created by God as free. The power of the devil will ultimately be destroyed by the resurrection of the dead and the renewal of creation. Salvation from all evil will be attained by obedience to God and His plan. This world is a battleground between the acceptance of good and evil. It must be pointed out that the world as the creation of God is not evil. What is evil is the satanic power, destroyed by the power of the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ.
The Orthodox Tradition of Exorcism
After examining the doctrine of Satan in the Orthodox Church, it is imperative to proceed to the method of repelling and exorcising the evil powers. In the New Testament, Christ sent out His Apostles to heal and to "cast out devils" (St. Matt. 10:8; St. Luke 10:17-20). Christ Himself often expels demons from the possessed (St. Mark 1:23-27; St. Luke 4:33-35, 9:43; St. Matt. 10:1; St. Mark 16:17; St. Matt. 7:22). The New Testament, however, rejected popular uses of magic incantations and rites to expel the satanic powers from people, because they took advantage of superstitious religiosity (Acts 19:13).
In the Name of Christ, one is able to cast our demons and to destroy the evil powers (St. Matt. 10:8). The holy Fathers of the Church accepted this doctrine and expanded on it. Saint Justin Martyr (Apology 85, 2) says that in the Name of Christ, the Son of God Who was crucified and rose again, every demon that is exorcised is defeated and submits (Library of the Greek Fathers and Church Writers, Athens: Apostolike Diakonia 1955, Vol. 3, pp. 288-89). The satanic powers are destroyed through the power of the Cross and the Name of Christ. Objects possessed by demons, when exorcised in the Name of the Living God, are freed from possession of evil. The Patristic evidence is abundant in the belief in possession and expulsion of the devil by the power of the word of God (St. Ignatios, Epistles to Philippians 3 and 12; Library of the Greek Fathers and Church Writers, St. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 4:14).
The demonic possession of individuals and even of objects has been accepted by the Orthodox Church today in the Sacrament of Baptism, in exorcising satanic powers in the case of the evil eye (vaskania), and in exorcising the devil in the case of a possessed person. In the early Church exorcisms were performed by a person especially trained and appointed to pray to drive out evil from those about to be baptized. Since the 4th century the place of the exorcist, as well as other functions and ministries, have been taken over the priest. The exorcisms are prayers that invoke God to expel evil spirits. The priest prays to expel all evil, the spirit of error, of idolatry, of covetousness, of lying and every impure act that arises from the teaching of the devil. The renunciation of the devil in baptism is used in every baptism that is performed in the Orthodox Church.
The exorcism of satanic powers is also performed by the Orthodox Church in other rites, such as that of evil eye (vaskania).
Vaskania is simply a phenomenon that was accepted by primitive people as fact. They believed that certain people have such powerful feelings of jealousy and envy, that when they looked on some beautiful object or individual it brought destruction. Vaskania is recognized by the Church as the jealousy and envy of some people for things they do not possess, such as beauty, youth, courage or any other blessing. The Church essentially rejected Vaskania as contradicting the concept of divine providence. The prayers of the Church to avert the evil eye, however, a silent recognition of this phenomenon as a morbid feeling of envy. The Church forbids people to go to "readers" or other individuals for use of magical rituals to overcome the evil eye. These readers take advantage of the weakness of superstitious people and destroy them spiritually and financially by playing upon their imagination.
There is also a secret rite performed by superstitious people to avert the evil eye, which verges on magic. Though the Church encourages even the laity to pray and exorcise evil, it rejects magical practices and rites.
The possession of individuals by the devil and demonic powers and the cure in the Name of Christ is evidenced in the New Testament (Acts 3:2-8, 9:32-42; 20:7-12; St. Matt. 10:8; St. Mark 16:17-18). The Church continues in its liturgical rites what Christ enacted in His Ministry. The Church recognizes the influence of evil and renounces it in the Name of Christ in prayers and fasting. The prayers of exorcism in the early Church were offered by special ministry through the exorcist. This is evidenced from the early prayers that have survived. From the 4th century onwards, the ministry of the exorcist has been fulfilled by the priest.
Orthodox Prayers of Exorcism
All the Orthodox prayer books include prayers of exorcism used by priests to fight the power of evil. The Orthodox Book of Prayers (Efchologion To Mega) includes three prayers of exorcism by Saint Basil the Great and four by Saint John Chrysostom. They are read "for those who suffer from demonic possessions and every other malady." Through these prayers, the devil is exorcised (renounced) "in the Name of God Almighty and the Lord Jesus Christ, and commanded to come out of the victim, who is liberated and redeemed by the Eternal God from the energies (powers) of the impure spirits. The great ills that humanity suffers are attributed to the devil and demonic power."
From the Orthodox theological point of view, the following can be considered exorcists:
1. Christ is the exorcist par excellence for it is He Who won the victory over the power of the devil.
2. Priests in the performance of the Holy Mysteria (Sacraments) and in preaching the word of God follow Christ's example.
3. All Orthodox Christians are exorcists as they struggle against personal sin and social evil. In fact, 'the whole Church, past, present, and future, has the task of an exorcist to banish sin, evil, injustice, spiritual death, the devil from the life of humanity."
In summary, the four prayers of exorcism by Saint John Chrysostom and the three of Saint Basil the Great ask in the Name of God to deliver the possessed from the captivity of the devil. Some can be healed by faith accompanied by fasting and purification. The use of exorcism must be made with discretion and great care.
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
May the Lord God strengthen the holy and pure faith of devout Orthodox Christians, and of His Holy Church, this city and Parish, to the endless ages. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God