Saint Dominic Makes the Devil Tell Him Where He Gains in Sin and Where He Loses
On one occasion, as St. Dominic was by night walking about the convent of S. Sabina, guarding his flock with the vigilance of a good shepherd, he met the enemy in the dormitory, going like a lion seeking whom he might devour; and recognizing him, he said, “Thou evil beast, what doest thou here?” “I do my office,” replied the demon, “and attend to my gains.” “And what gains dost thou make in the dormitory?” asked the saint. “Gain enough,” returned the demon.
“I disquiet the friars in many ways; for first, I take the sleep away from those who desire to sleep in order that they may rise promptly for matins; and then I give an excessive heaviness to others, so that when the bell sounds, either from weariness or idleness they do not rise; or, if they rise and go to choir, it is unwillingly, and they say their office without devotion.” Then the saint took him to the church, and said, “And what dost thou gain here?” “Much, answered the devil; “I make them come late and leave soon. I fill them with disgusts and distractions, so that they do ill whatsoever they have to do.” “And here?” asked Dominic, leading him to the refectory. “Who does not eat too much or too little?” was the reply; “and so they either offend God or injure their health.” Then the saint took him to the parlour, where the brethren were allowed to speak with seculars, and to take their recreation. And the devil began maliciously to laugh, and to leap and jump about, as if with enjoyment, and he said, “This place is all mine own; here they laugh and joke, and hear a thousand vain stories; here they utter idle words, and grumble often at their rule and their superiors; and whatsoever they gain elsewhere they lose here.” And lastly they came to the door of the chapterroom, but there the devil would not enter.
He attempted to fly, saying, “This place is a hell to me; here the friars accuse themselves of their faults, and receive reproof and correction, and absolution. What they have lost in every other place they regain here.” And so saying, he disappeared, and Dominic was left greatly wondering at the snares and nets of the tempter; whereof he afterwards made a long discourse to his brethren, declaring the same unto them, that they should be on their guard.