St. Anthony used to conquer the devils with humility. Whenever they gathered around him, he used to address them humbly, “Ye strong, what do you want with me who am weak?” and he prayed, “Save me, O God, from those who think I am of any worth though I am too weak to fight even the smallest of them.” When the devils heard him raising such a prayer full of humility, they could not endure but vanished like smoke.
St. Macarius the Great too conquered the devil with humility. Once, the devil appeared to St. Macarius and said, “Ah from you Macarius! One thing you do that we do not! You fast and we eat nothing, You keep awake and we do not sleep. You inhabit the desert and wilderness and we also; but you overcome us with one thing”. The saint asked what that thing was and the devil answered, “It is with your humility that you overcome us.”
Humility overcomes the devil for many reasons, among which are the following; First: because the devil is not humble and humility reminds him of his pride which was the cause of his fall. Second: because humility reminds him of the image of Jesus Christ who emptied Himself and took upon Himself the form of a slave in order to save humanity. Mere memory of these, troubles him and he departs. Third: because the humble person, feeling his weakness, seeks the power of God to help him in fighting the devil and this is the thing which the devil fears most.
So, I wrote once in my notes the following words: “The devil said to God, ‘Leave to me the strong, I am responsible for them; but the weak I cannot overcome because when they find that they have no power, they fight me with Your power'”.
The story of St. Sarapamon the Veiled (Abu Tarhaa) proves that casting out the devils can be effected by humility. The daughter of the ruler Muhammid Ali called Zahra was possessed by a devil and they brought her to the Patriarch to pray for her so that the devil might Page 2 be cast out. The Patriarch said to them humbly, “I do not have such a gift, go to St. Sarapamon the Veiled”. When they went to him he said humbly, “My prayers for her are not sufficient.” He required the cross of the patriarch to cross her with and said, “By the blessing of this cross, she will recover”. He meant by this to attribute her recovery to the Patriarch not to himself. Thus she recovered because the devil could not bear such humility.