11 November 1954
. . . Oh, how foolish you are! You write to me that you ' do not believe in God or his holy Providence or in the existence of demons'. Are you really so spiritually blind that you do not see in creation the Creator - Almighty God! Everything is so marvellously made and each thing is regulated by its own law, unchanging from age to age. I remember having written to you about God and his works.
About the existence of demons, I will tell you briefly my own experience. I was living alone in a little hut in the skete of the Forerunner28 at Valamo. I prepared my own food; I grew vegetables, but I brought bread from the monastery or once in a while did my own baking. I liked to spend the nights awake. I always lay down after twelve for two or three hours. Of course I slept in the daytime as much as nature required. Once at two o'clock in the morning I was heating the little samovar and instead of supper I was about to drink tea. Suddenly I heard someone walking in the hall; human footsteps could be heard clearly. I remembered well that the doors were locked. My flesh was creeping, and the cat arched its back and its fur stood on end just as if it expected someone to open the door and come in. I took a lamp, went out to the hall, looked everywhere, and there was no one. Of course an unbeliever would say that it was a hallucination. No, it was no hallucination, but demons. Sometimes I heard knockings on the window-frame when I was reading my rule of prayer, and there were other knockings, but I will not describe them all.
Here is some more evidence of the existence of demons, of which the Gospel speaks too. I had a brother living in Petrograd. He kept an eating-house which did a thriving business and I was living in the same city at the time at the Valamo monastery house. Once my brother came to see me. When he came into the cell, for some reason he began to get very agitated. I seated him on a chair, and above it were icons with relics. Suddenly my brother jumped up from the chair and cried: 'Vile, vile icons!' and ran out of the cell. I was left at a loss, wondering what had happened to him. Could he possibly be possessed? It turned out that he really was possessed. The following day I went to see him and his wife said to me: 'When he came home he was very disturbed and began to shout: "I shall never again go to my brother's; he has vile icons there." And when I say anything from the Holy Gospel he gets nervous and says, "Don't say that to me." If the food is sprinkled with holy water he won't eat it, even if he hasn't seen that it was sprinkled.' I had to go to the monastery to be consecrated a monk. I arrived at the monastery and asked the Igumen to remember sick John in the liturgy - he too was called John; I also asked some schema-monks to pray for him.
The sacrament took place and I was tonsured. I went back to the seditious world. I took with me a basket of strawberries from the monastery garden and sprinkled them with holy water, thinking to give my brother monastery berries as a treat. I arrived in town, took the berries and went to give them to my brother. I watched; he ate and thanked me for the good berries. Then he said to me: 'When you had left for the monastery, in the night I had just begun to fall asleep when suddenly I saw very clearly two schema-monks coming towards me and saying to me kindly: "Do not be sad, do not be sad, you will get well," and they left me. I was all right immediately.' Then he said: 'Bad people had corrupted me out of envy.'
I shall never forget that happening. I believe in God and in his power and in his marvellous creation. Wherever I look, everything amazes me and I feel his creative care for the destinies of the world and man.
How is it that you atheists cannot recognize God the Creator when you look at all this wonderful creation? The Lord in his grace marvellously created everything, He gave each thing its appointed law and upholds the order of his world until his Second Coming. Then this marvellous world will be done away with and there will be eternal life which has no end.
28 John the Baptist "