Saturday, October 10, 2009

Words of Power

We speak to the Devil! It is here that the Christian understanding of the word as, above all, power is made manifest. In the desacralized and secularized worldview of the "modern man," speech, as everything else, has been "devaluated," reduced to its rational meaning only. But in the biblical revelation, word is always power and life. God created the world with His Word. It is power of creation and also power of destruction, for it communicates not only ideas and concepts but first of all spiritual realities, positive as well as negative. From the point of view of a "secular" understanding of speech, it is not only useless, it is indeed ridiculous to "speak to the Devil," for there can hardly be a "rational dialogue" with the very bearer of the irrational. But exorcisms are not explanations, not a discourse aimed at proving anything to someone who from all eternity hates, lies and destroys. They are, in the words of St. John Chrysostom, "awesome and wonderful invocations," an act of "frightening and horrible" power which dissolves and destroys the evil power of the demonic world:

   [Here follows the First Prayer of Exorcism from the Byzantine baptismal service.]

Exorcism is indeed a poem in the deepest sense of this word, which in Greek means creation. It truly manifests and does that which it announces; it makes powerful that which it states; it again fills words with the divine energy from which they stem. And exorcism does all this because it is proferred in the name of Christ; it is truly filled with the power of Christ, who has "broken" into the enemy territory, has assumed human life and made human words His own, because He has already destroyed the demonic power from within.

From Alexander Schmemann, Of Water and the Spirit: A Liturgical Study of Baptism, pp. 24-25.

No comments: