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“Believe me, father,” that man answered him, “that up to now I have been given a great deal of advice. But never have I profited so much. It is obvious that God truly abides in you and you in Him. What do I do, however, when the demon of ungodliness overcomes me? Whether I’m eating, drinking, or sleeping, he never ceases to annoy me, particularly in church during the time of prayer. He puts in my mind heresies and countless impious and blasphemous thoughts against Christ our God His Holy Mother, and other such things. He fights me so forcefully, that I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid that perhaps fire may fall down from heaven and thoroughly consume me.”

“Listen to me, my child, and you will be somewhat consoled,” the saint said to him. “Observe the sea: when the storm rises, it sends wild waves, which break upon the cliffs of the coast. But does anything happen to the cliffs from the mania of the waves? The waves simply beat upon them and return again to the sea. The same thing happens with blasphemous thoughts. They originate from the devil and assail human intelligence. Why? Obviously to throw the servants of God in despair, which has killed many souls and led them to perdition.”

“If however, the devil does not succeed in throwing man into despair, he tries with obscene thoughts to at least shake him up. And if he sees that even then man is not shaken, he is beaten, disgraced, and his wild attacks backfire on him; while the man who was tried not only is not judged, but instead is crowned and glorified by God.”

“You, too, be patient, then, kindling your zeal with fasting and prayer, and the temptation will leave. Didn’t the Lord say it? ‘This kind never conies out except by prayer and fasting.’”

With these thoughts he strengthened him greatly and sent him off in peace. When the visitor left, he told us that blasphemous thoughts are born of judging others and of anger.

An Ascetic Bishop: Stories, Sermons, and Prayers of St. Nephon