Again, a knock came at the door of the monk’s hermitage. Instead of temptation, it was something different.
Outside the door was the image of a person in a dark cloak, neither male nor female, but in some ways resembling the monk. This was doubt.
The monk in fear did not open the door. He looked through it, saw the figure, then returned to his bed, putting his face in his hands.
Not again, he thought to himself.
The cloaked figure whispered at the monk; suddenly his mind was filled with images of failure, judgement. His ears were filled with the voices of judgement.
They told him of his secret temptations that no one, not even the abbot, knew. They told him of his ultimate failing in his isolation–that at some point soon, he would crack, that he would wander down the mountain, take off his habit, return to the world he’d left to seek out God.
They reminded him of the pain he suffered rising early to pray, to walk to the cave where Mass was said. They reminded him of the pain in eating stale bread, stale water.
They reminded him of his pain. His suffering.
Rather than voices within, ideas from his own consciousness, they were like winds that blew against his skin that profoundly moved his mind in quiet, secret ways to think. They were a voice in his ear that was like a thought in his own mind, and yet nothing like a thought in his mind.
The monk wept.
He fell on his knees, looked up and saw the crucifix on the table before him. He rebuked the voices. He rebuked the failure, the judgement, he rebuked the accusing finger pointing at his deepest secrets, knowing the God loved him regardless.
And in that strength, he shouted out into the darkness of his cell:
I rebuke you, Satan. I rebuke your attempt to hold me, to twist me.
He focused again on the crucifix. Calm began to enter into his spirit, his cell. The figure outside drifted like smoke down the valley.
The monk fell asleep praying the rosary, feeling once again settled in his faith.