Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Saint Joseph the Hesychast and the "Devil's Box"


By Elder Ephraim of Arizona

When they brought the radio to Mount Athos, the older monks, who had been cut off from the world for decades, were amazed. When some of the simpler monks saw that everyone was fascinated by it, they exclaimed:

"It is the Devil's box!"

The others tried to explain it:

"No it is not. It's just a modern invention."

"No, it can't be so!" said the simple-minded monks, "How can all the musical instruments we hear fit in this little box? They cannot. Hence, it's something of the devil."

Some of the fathers were so sure of this that they even set a rule that whoever listens to this "Devil's box" and does not close his ears, cannot commune.

Although Elder Joseph [the Hesychast] had never heard of the radio, he was a shrewd man and knew that this was probably a human invention. He thought the simplicity of these people was funny! But to close the issue, he told the others:

"Look, if we want to know if this box belongs to the Devil, we will ask the priest to bring us the altar tabernacle and put it on the box. If the box belongs to the Devil, then it will explode, because the demons cannot stand the approach of Christ. But if the music continues to be heard, we will understand that it is a simple invention."

Eventually, the priest brought the altar tabernacle and the box did not explode. Then everyone agreed that the box is a simple invention and all the monks who heard it received permission once again to commune.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.