Of Angels and Demons

Of Angels and Demons


We Orthodox confess that we are amphibians—that is, that we are part animal, part angelic, that we simultaneously inhabit both the visible and the invisible world, the realms of both men and spirits. We have prayers in our daily prayer rule to our guardian angel, and we ask for help against the attacks of demonic spirits. For most of us, this bi-partite existence remains mostly theoretical, in that while we acknowledge the reality of the invisible and spiritual world of angels and demons, we have little personal experience of it. But once in a while, we learn of people whose experience of this world is more direct.

I have learned of such a person. A pious person in my parish is in touch with an old friend of his in Russia, and this latter has experienced many things from the invisible world of the spirit that we all acknowledge, experiencing both the attacks of demons and the help of the angels. He was a brave and confident person, athletic, skilled in martial arts. He came from a hard and difficult life, a sinful life of violence. In this violent world he went deeply into the evil darkness that always lies open to the sons of men. At length he began to seek God. His seeking did not go unchallenged by the dark forces which once dominated his life, and so he has experienced things which most of us have not. His friend, my parishioner, knows him well as a man of integrity and sanity, as someone who is neither crazy nor duplicitous, and he has shared his story with me. In what follows I offer several examples from his long testimony to show that the unseen realm that we Orthodox confess in our Creeds is truly a contemporary reality.

When this man first began to seek a life of righteousness in the Church, he experienced demonic attacks which frightened him. Being sensible, he went to a monastery and sought the prayers and counsel of the monastic Fathers there. One night, as he returned from the monastery, he parked his car and began walking to his home, and the demons began to attack him. He was filled with fear as he began seeing dark silhouettes appearing in the trees about him, and was consumed with an inner horror. He continued walking, and saying the prayer, “Rejoice Virgin Theotokos”. Nonetheless, a fear and panic grew within him which soon became unbearable. Though the street was empty, he heard a loud metallic roar, as if from an unearthly lion, and he thought his heart would stop. He then felt the angelic presence with him, as if an angel stood behind him, covering him beneath its wings. He felt the angel said to him, “It is useless to run; they are bodiless.” He continued to rest in the love and peace that seemed to flow from his protector, until the horror coming from the shadows receded. A minute after this, he felt the angelic presence also depart.

On other occasions, he would see the angels. He reported that their faces are full of innocence, like the faces of young children, free of all taint of sin and guilt. They seem to glow, like beings transparent to the light of the Kingdom, exuding a kind of warmth and kindness and love and peace, and they resembled young men. (I note that this is consistent with the descriptions of angels in the New Testament: compare St. Mark’s description of the angel appearing to the myrrh-bearing women after Christ’s Resurrection as “a young man” in Mark 16:5.)

My parishioner’s friend in Russia shared many other experiences, relating things which he had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears. I offer this small taste of his testimony because it confirms for me the reality that we confess without seeing with our own eyes and hearing with our own ears. I believe in the reality of the unseen world, not because of stories like this, but because of the witness of the Scriptures and the Fathers. But it is good nonetheless to receive the witness of others of our generation who have experienced the same sort of realities. I will think of my parishioner’s friend whenever I say the Creed: “I believe in one God, maker of heaven of earth and all of things, both visible and invisible.”


Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network.  You can find the Orthodox Christian Network on Google+.

About author

Fr. Lawrence Farley

Fr. Lawrence was formerly an Anglican priest, graduating from Wycliffe College in Toronto, Canada in 1979 before serving Anglican parishes in central Canada. He converted to Orthodoxy in 1985 and spent two years at St. Tikhon’s Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. After ordination he traveled to Surrey, B.C. to begin a new mission under the O.C.A., St. Herman of Alaska Church.

The Church has grown from its original twelve members, and now owns a building in Langley, B.C., where they worship each Sunday. The community has planted a number of ‘daughter churches’, including parishes in Victoria, Comox and Vancouver.

Fr. Lawrence has written a number of books, published by Conciliar Press, including the Bible Study Companion Series, with verse-by-verse commentaries on the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, the Early Epistles, the Prison Epistles, the Pastoral Epistles, the Catholic Epistles, and the Book of Revelation, as well as a volume about how to read the Old Testament , entitled The Christian Old Testament. He has also written a commentary on the Divine Liturgy, entitled, Let Us Attend: A Journey through the Orthodox Divine Liturgy. SVS Press has published his book on Feminism and Tradition, examining such topics as the ordination of women and deaconesses. He has also written a synaxarion (lives of Saints), published by Light and Life, entitled A Daily Calendar of Saints, recently updated and revised and available through his blog. He has also written a series of Akathists, published by Alexander Press, including Akathist to Jesus, Light to Those in Darkness, Akathist to the Most-Holy Theotokos, Daughter of Zion, A New Akathist to St. Herman of Alaska, Akathist: Glory to the God who Works Wonders (a rehearsal of the works of God from Genesis to Revelation). His articles have appeared in the Canadian Orthodox Messenger (the official diocesan publication of the Archdiocese of Canada), as well as in the Orthodox Church (the official publication of the O.C.A.), in The Handmaiden and AGAIN magazine (from Conciliar Press).

Fr. Lawrence has a podcast each weekday on Ancient Faith Radio, the Coffee Cup Commentaries. He has given a number of parish retreats in the U.S. and Canada, as well as being a guest-lecturer yearly at the local Regent College, Vancouver. He can also be found on his personal blog, Straight from the Heart.

Fr. Lawrence lives in Surrey with his wife, Donna. They have two daughters, and three grandchildren.