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On the Indispensability of Sobriety in the Battle Against the Devil
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5: 8)
Orthodox monks have emphasized sobriety and vigilance as essential to asceticism. The spirit must be sober, in order to sense danger, and vigilant, in order to recognize from where the danger is coming, and from whom. “Be vigilant, my child, that you do not tread on a serpent, that you do not fall into a pit, that you do not encounter a wolf, that you do not venture out into deep water, and that you do not stray from the path and get lost in the forest!” Thus a mother counsels her child, fearing for his body. With no less love does the Church counsel a man, fearing for his soul. Therefore, children, be sober, be vigilant. Your old adversary, the devil, does not rest or sleep but, like a hungry lion, stalks and seeks someone to devour. Be sober, be vigilant, for you are like sheep and he is like a lion. When sheep sense the foul odor of the wolf, they flee to their shepherd. Be vigilant, and you will sense the foulness of the devil when he approaches you, and flee immediately under the protection of your Shepherd, Christ the Lord. You will sense the stench of the devil through your thoughts, through your feelings, through your intentions, and through your fleshly desires. All that you think, imagine, feel, intend or desire contrary to Christ and the Law of Christ— know that this is the snare of the devil, the stench of the devil. Know this, and flee to your Shepherd, directing your entire mind, heart, soul and body to Him. O Lord Jesus, our sober and vigilant Shepherd, make us sober and vigilant at every moment, so that our enemy may not surprise us and devour us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.