The Elder was not only endowed by the Lord with the gift of healing bodily illnesses — he was also given the power to cast out demons. Thus, there lived in Optina a lay youth who suffered from a kind of possession. Elder Ambrose had healed him, but not once and for all. The youth retained the ability to consciously call forth certain states in himself. Once, when he and Fr. Nektary were left alone together, the youth said to the Elder, “Would you like me to show you something?” “All right.” Then he sat down, became concentrated, and his body began to bend unnaturally. He threw his head back, and all his members became stiff. Then the Elder raised his hand and traced the sign of the Cross in the air. The youth remained in the same position. He made a second sign of the Cross and then a third. After the third time the youth came to himself. “What did you see?” Fr. Nektary asked him. “I saw the air as if it were layered, and the flat outlines of people and other beings,” he replied. “And then I saw lightning. It flashed twice, and the third time it burst into flame, and then I came to.” “See what power the sign of the Cross has?’ the Elder concluded.
—Holy Elder Nektary of Optina