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Author Topic: St. Silouan of Mt. Athos prayed for the Devil. What does the Church teach?  (Read 2429 times) Average Rating: 0
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Maria
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« on: January 09, 2011, 10:20:35 PM »

St. Silouan had so much love in his soul that he even prayed that Lucifer and Judas (who betrayed Christ) would be saved.

I was taught that Lucifer was cast down and that he cannot change his mind or be saved.
From where did this teaching originate?

Please discuss this giving citations from the Bible and the Church Fathers. Thanks.
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« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2011, 11:50:30 PM »

Saint Martin taught that the Devil could be saved.

See message 1623 at

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13820.msg428893.html#msg428893
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« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2011, 11:55:27 PM »

The way I see it, how could it hurt? God is abundantly more merciful than we could imagine.
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2011, 12:09:57 AM »

It is extremely dangerous to pray for the demons. I have had friends that tried this, and it ended badly. I believe there is a section from The Gurus the Young man, and Elder Paisius, where the Elder attempts to pray for the demons and they visible appear and scorn him. This same thing happened to my friend. Steer clear from doing this.
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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2011, 12:11:54 AM »

While we obviously believe that Satan is still fallen. I find it a bit contradictory, should he ever actually repent to God, that he would be unforgiven.
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2011, 12:15:59 AM »

We know that nothing is impossible for God, but is it not a part and parcel of forgiveness that one must repent, or at least want to be forgiven, in order for it to be possible? It's like saying you are "swimming" but you have not jumped in the water. In my admittedly tiny understanding, still, God does not force anyone to love Him, he gives all individuals their choices.
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2011, 12:27:24 AM »

We know that nothing is impossible for God, but is it not a part and parcel of forgiveness that one must repent, or at least want to be forgiven, in order for it to be possible? It's like saying you are "swimming" but you have not jumped in the water. In my admittedly tiny understanding, still, God does not force anyone to love Him, he gives all individuals their choices.

Perhaps Satan would one day take notice of the abundance of human compassion, realize that humans are indeed God's greatest creation, repent and accept his proper place in the universe. A longshot, yes, but with God all things are possible. So long as angels have free-will (and they must have, for they chose to rebel against God) then there is a chance for a change of heart from evil towards good. I am in no way advocating prayer for them, but this is just how I see it. How does prayer for those who lived a wicked life affect them in the next? Perhaps God by our prayers will incline his ear to the pleadings of the desperate soul and grant him rest and possibly forgiveness. I don't see why a fallen angel would be any different, but again these are just late-night ponderings of mine...
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2011, 12:28:20 AM »

Well, I suppose it could happen.   Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2011, 12:41:05 AM »

I think it would be OK to pray for Judas, though.  Unlike Lucifer, Judas was human and so potentially could still have repented (on the way down) ...
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2011, 12:42:53 AM »

It is the nature of angels not to fall, the nature of man to fall and get up, the nature of demons to fall and not get up.


Don't waste your time praying for demons.
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2011, 12:52:00 AM »

It is the nature of angels not to fall, the nature of man to fall and get up, the nature of demons to fall and not get up.


Don't waste your time praying for demons.

I just read the first part of the quote in "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," last night.  It is a really good quote.   

Overall, I think you can look at the quote by St. Silouan to do more about the person praying than demons repenting.   I took it to mean we are to not harbor any malice or ill will in our heart at all.  I believe St. Isaac the Syrian had a similar quote as St. Silouan.
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2011, 01:02:15 AM »

The Russians who, like Saint Isaac of Syria and Saint Silouan of Athos, can be moved to tears at the thought of even the demons in hell, have a story.

Please read it at message 90 at

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,15756.msg314779.html#msg314779
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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2011, 02:11:58 AM »

Thanks for your responses. I really appreciate your links too.

Is the teaching that Lucifer and the demons cannot change their minds or be saved part of Roman Catholic teaching?

I was taught during my Orthodox catechumenate to pray: Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and save us.
This prayer is inclusive and includes the powerful name of Jesus.

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« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2011, 02:23:13 AM »

Is the teaching that Lucifer and the demons cannot change their minds or be saved part of Roman Catholic teaching?

It certainly was when I was a boy but over the last few decades things have been appearing which suggest that universalism (the salvation of all) is quietly becoming an acceptable belief.  I leave it to the Catholics onboard to eleborate. 

I think that Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor recently raised the possibility of universal salvation.
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2011, 03:33:00 AM »

What's the difference between believing in universal salvation (universalism) and hoping that all will one day be saved?
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« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2011, 03:36:55 AM »

Is the teaching that Lucifer and the demons cannot change their minds or be saved part of Roman Catholic teaching?

It certainly was when I was a boy but over the last few decades things have been appearing which suggest that universalism (the salvation of all) is quietly becoming an acceptable belief.  I leave it to the Catholics onboard to eleborate. 

I think that Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor recently raised the possibility of universal salvation.

Pope John Paul II in his book on hope suggested a belief in Universalism. I forgot the title of that book, but he mentioned that St. Dominic and St. Seraphim of Sarov both shown with a heavenly light. That book was instrumental in my conversion to Orthodoxy. I was seeking the unchanging faith once delivered to the Apostles by Christ, not a faith that seemed to change with the election of every recent pope.
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« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2011, 03:43:17 AM »

What's the difference between believing in universal salvation (universalism) and hoping that all will one day be saved?

Does it have to do with the degree of certainty in your belief/expression of your beliefs? I don't claim to know, just throwing that out there...
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« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2011, 03:47:17 AM »

What's the difference between believing in universal salvation (universalism) and hoping that all will one day be saved?

Does it have to do with the degree of certainty in your belief/expression of your beliefs? I don't claim to know, just throwing that out there...

That's the only distinction I can come up with...
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« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2011, 04:07:25 AM »

What's the difference between believing in universal salvation (universalism) and hoping that all will one day be saved?

A big difference. Universalism is dangerous because it eliminates free will and free choice. If we are all saved anyway, we might as well start doing devious acts.
Now we can pray that God will have mercy on us all, but it's by His Grace that we are saved.
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« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2011, 04:12:02 AM »

What's the difference between believing in universal salvation (universalism) and hoping that all will one day be saved?

The idea that all will be saved is one that some of the church Fathers leaned towards but would never pronounce as doctrine.

Indeed, we know from Saint Augustine that this was the majority belief in the early Church.

"Some, nay, very many" (nonnulli, quam plurimi), pity with human feeling, the everlasting punishment of the damned, and do not believe that it is so."

~St Augustine. Enchiridion, chapter 112.

And Saint Maximos the Confessor, offering what appears, to me at least, some sound wisdom:

"One should pray that Apokatastasis [universal salvation] is true, but one would be foolish to teach it as doctrine."
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« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2011, 04:12:35 AM »

What's the difference between believing in universal salvation (universalism) and hoping that all will one day be saved?

A big difference. Universalism is dangerous because it eliminates free will and free choice. If we are all saved anyway, we might as well start doing devious acts.
Now we can pray that God will have mercy on us all, but it's by His Grace that we are saved.

Interesting. Does anyone have a quote from Pope John Paul II handy that suggests universalism?
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« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2011, 04:16:39 AM »

What's the difference between believing in universal salvation (universalism) and hoping that all will one day be saved?

A big difference. Universalism is dangerous because it eliminates free will and free choice. If we are all saved anyway, we might as well start doing devious acts.
Now we can pray that God will have mercy on us all, but it's by His Grace that we are saved.

Interesting. Does anyone have a quote from Pope John Paul II handy that suggests universalism?

Read JPII's book On the Threshold of Hope. There you will see statements that indicate his belief in universalism.
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« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2011, 04:42:00 AM »

What's the difference between believing in universal salvation (universalism) and hoping that all will one day be saved?

A big difference. Universalism is dangerous because it eliminates free will and free choice. If we are all saved anyway, we might as well start doing devious acts.
Now we can pray that God will have mercy on us all, but it's by His Grace that we are saved.

Interesting. Does anyone have a quote from Pope John Paul II handy that suggests universalism?

Read JPII's book On the Threshold of Hope. There you will see statements that indicate his belief in universalism.

I see, thanks. I found a page with some of JPII's quotes regarding universalism:

http://www.romancatholicism.org/jpii-quotes.htm

It doesn't seem to me that he is preaching doctrine here, rather expressing a hope for universal reconciliation. Perhaps I am not reading it correctly, but I just don't see the distinction between what he is speaking of here and the proper Orthodox expression of such a belief (as St. Maximos describes). Is it because the RCC strictly condemned such a belief previously, and is now open to it?
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« Reply #23 on: January 10, 2011, 11:06:19 AM »

It is the nature of angels not to fall, the nature of man to fall and get up, the nature of demons to fall and not get up.


Don't waste your time praying for demons.

I agree.

A young Timothy (Metr. Kallistos) Ware once asked this question of a bishop, and he crisply responded, "Mind your own business."

With all the people in the world who seem to be walking the many roads to hell, I don't think we have the luxury of fretting over the demons, who made their choice before there was a world. There are plenty of people here in the material realm, who we know are capable of salvation (unlike the Devil), who need to be saved.
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« Reply #24 on: January 10, 2011, 11:57:43 AM »

What's the difference between believing in universal salvation (universalism) and hoping that all will one day be saved?

A big difference. Universalism is dangerous because it eliminates free will and free choice. If we are all saved anyway, we might as well start doing devious acts.
Now we can pray that God will have mercy on us all, but it's by His Grace that we are saved.
What? Are you familiar with the teachings of universal reconciliation at all? There is still punishment, it just won't be eternal. So I would not just want to live however I wanted, because I would go to hell. And not all teachings of Universalism eliminate free will. Why couldn't God save us, and reconcile us in the Age to come, without violating our freewill? He could. I do not say these things to start a fight, but for you to realize there are other ways to look at the issue.
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« Reply #25 on: January 10, 2011, 01:50:24 PM »

The problem with the belief that the devil can be saved is that Revelation has already foretold that the devil will be condemned to the lake of fire. From God's vantage point in eternity, that has already all happened. How human beings can still choose to work towards salvation or not if God is outside time and can foresee the future is, of course, one of the mysteries of philosophy of religion, but when it comes to the devil there doesn't seem to be any doubt left by Scripture.
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« Reply #26 on: January 11, 2011, 05:31:48 PM »

What's the difference between believing in universal salvation (universalism) and hoping that all will one day be saved?

The idea that all will be saved is one that some of the church Fathers leaned towards but would never pronounce as doctrine.

Indeed, we know from Saint Augustine that this was the majority belief in the early Church.

"Some, nay, very many" (nonnulli, quam plurimi), pity with human feeling, the everlasting punishment of the damned, and do not believe that it is so."

~St Augustine. Enchiridion, chapter 112.

And Saint Maximos the Confessor, offering what appears, to me at least, some sound wisdom:

"One should pray that Apokatastasis [universal salvation] is true, but one would be foolish to teach it as doctrine."


Ooh, I love that quote from St. Maximimus Father. Wow! Do you know where that is found, just for reference? (not that I'm doubting but I ask because I might put that in my sig and would like the reference...LOL!
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« Reply #27 on: January 11, 2011, 06:02:16 PM »

It is extremely dangerous to pray for the demons. I have had friends that tried this, and it ended badly. I believe there is a section from The Gurus the Young man, and Elder Paisius, where the Elder attempts to pray for the demons and they visible appear and scorn him. This same thing happened to my friend. Steer clear from doing this.

It is possibly dangerous because certainly the demons would not want you to pray for them because they fear God working for their redemption. That doesn't mean that the practice is wrong if it can be safely suffered.
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« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2011, 06:51:26 PM »

It is extremely dangerous to pray for the demons. I have had friends that tried this, and it ended badly. I believe there is a section from The Gurus the Young man, and Elder Paisius, where the Elder attempts to pray for the demons and they visible appear and scorn him. This same thing happened to my friend. Steer clear from doing this.

It is possibly dangerous because certainly the demons would not want you to pray for them because they fear God working for their redemption. That doesn't mean that the practice is wrong if it can be safely suffered.
You have certainly picked up on what I was intending to say. We must realize that those who prayed for the demons were spiritual mature, they were saints! It is incredibly dangerous to thrust ourselves into the realm of the demons in this manner, without proper preparation. And I would say, myself included first, most people should not attempt to pray for the demons.
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« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2011, 06:55:20 PM »

It is extremely dangerous to pray for the demons. I have had friends that tried this, and it ended badly. I believe there is a section from The Gurus the Young man, and Elder Paisius, where the Elder attempts to pray for the demons and they visible appear and scorn him. This same thing happened to my friend. Steer clear from doing this.

It is possibly dangerous because certainly the demons would not want you to pray for them because they fear God working for their redemption. That doesn't mean that the practice is wrong if it can be safely suffered.
You have certainly picked up on what I was intending to say. We must realize that those who prayed for the demons were spiritual mature, they were saints! It is incredibly dangerous to thrust ourselves into the realm of the demons in this manner, without proper preparation. And I would say, myself included first, most people should not attempt to pray for the demons.

Sure!
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« Reply #30 on: January 11, 2011, 09:08:43 PM »

It is extremely dangerous to pray for the demons. I have had friends that tried this, and it ended badly. I believe there is a section from The Gurus the Young man, and Elder Paisius, where the Elder attempts to pray for the demons and they visible appear and scorn him. This same thing happened to my friend. Steer clear from doing this.

It is possibly dangerous because certainly the demons would not want you to pray for them because they fear God working for their redemption. That doesn't mean that the practice is wrong if it can be safely suffered.
You have certainly picked up on what I was intending to say. We must realize that those who prayed for the demons were spiritual mature, they were saints! It is incredibly dangerous to thrust ourselves into the realm of the demons in this manner, without proper preparation. And I would say, myself included first, most people should not attempt to pray for the demons.

Thanks for this information.

Other priests have also mentioned that it is not advisable to pray for demons.
One priest said that theologians who have studied demons have endured demonic attacks.
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« Reply #31 on: January 11, 2011, 10:16:49 PM »

And Saint Maximos the Confessor, offering what appears, to me at least, some sound wisdom:

"One should pray that Apokatastasis [universal salvation] is true, but one would be foolish to teach it as doctrine."


Ooh, I love that quote from St. Maximimus Father. Wow! Do you know where that is found, just for reference? (not that I'm doubting but I ask because I might put that in my sig and would like the reference...LOL!

I have had the quote for years and unfortunately the reference has fallen off.  I'd be grateful myself if anyone finds it.
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« Reply #32 on: January 11, 2011, 10:32:42 PM »

I have had the quote for years and unfortunately the reference has fallen off.  I'd be grateful myself if anyone finds it.

Fwiw, I had also wondered about it and had done a Google search for the phrase, but that only seemed to muddy the waters. While the quote was attributed to St. Maximos in a number of places, no one said where; and worse still, some people attributed it to someone else, St. John of Damascus. Regretably I gave away my copy of Microcosm and Mediator, which I suspect would be the most likely place you could find the reference. I just did check a few books I still have, including Univeralism by J.W. Hanson, but couldn't find anything.
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