I appeared before thee in the sanctuary, that I might see thy glory

FOR the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:12-13


A monk of Mount Athos striking a simantro

A monk of Mount Athos striking a metal simantro, a bell used to summon the brethren to church

The following comes from the website of the Pantocrator Monastery in Thessaloniki (originally by P. B. Paschos), on a page dedicated to the angels.

NO ONE can describe how many alterations take place in our souls, when we hear Vespers, the Divine Liturgy, or other services of our Church.

Only the angels see our changes, and rejoice, while the demons are shamed and put far off from us.

An event from the life of Abba Paul the Simple [+ c. 339], referred to in the Gerontikon, is very characteristic.

He went to worship in a monastery neighbouring his own skete. When the monks entered for the service in the church, Paul, having the spiritual gift of seeing into the depths of a man’s soul, watched them one by one. He saw them go in with shining faces and each with his angel by his side.

But one appeared coal-black, and dark, and many demons dragged him back by his nose with a halter, while his angel followed from a distance, sullen and miserable. Paul began to strike his breast and to weep, for the unfortunate sinner whom he saw. Vainly did the monks ask him the reason for his tears.

As the service came to a close, after some time, the brethren of the monastery began to leave one by one.

But with great joy he saw that the one who had been coal-black now made his way bright in his face, and white in his person, with his angel happy and joyful by his side, while the demons followed sullen and grieving at a distance. With cries of joy, Abba Paul blessed the name of God.

Later on he recounted what he had seen in the entrance of the church. Following much persistence from Paul and the brethren, the man opened his mouth and explained the things which the holy ascetic had seen.

“For myself, I am a sinful man, and for many years I have lived in fornication. Going to the church, I heard the word of God, by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, say to me: Wash you, be you clean, put away the evils from your hearts and from before mine eyes, learn to do good: and though your sins be as scarlet, I shall make them white as snow. [See Is 1:16-18]

“Then I groaned with compunction and I said, Even for me a sinner, God can do what the mouth of the prophet spoke to me. And I decided to commit no sin any more, and no transgression. And with this contrite repentance and this decision, to do no careless thing before God, I came out from the church.”

You too, my brother, can hasten to and seek the help of the angels in all the difficulties and in all the evils by which your enemies wage war upon you.

They, with the grace which they have from God, will keep watch over you in the hour of your trial, and coming through to incorruption from the great trial of death, they will help you to lay hold on perfection, together with the salvation of your soul.

This is my amateur translation. The original (and longer) account of this story can be found in “The Sayings of the Desert Fathers”, tr. Benedicta Ward, p. 205-207, and online at Salt of the Earth.


O GOD, my God, I cry to thee early; my soul has thirsted for thee: how often has my flesh longed after thee, in a barren and trackless and dry land!

Thus have I appeared before thee in the sanctuary, that I might see thy power and thy glory. For thy mercy is better than life: my lips shall praise thee.

Psalm 62(63):1-3

I WILL give thee thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; and I will sing psalms to thee before the angels; for thou hast heard all the words of my mouth.

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and give thanks to thy name, on account of thy mercy and thy truth; for thou hast magnified thy holy name above every thing.

In whatsoever day I shall call upon thee, hear me speedily; thou shalt abundantly provide me with thy power in my soul.

Psalm 138(139):1-3

See also my page entitled The Angel Guardian.


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