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The Illness & Cure of the Soul

The Illness & Cure of the Soul

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Published by Dew Nada

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Published by: Dew Nada on Oct 13, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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© Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
First meeting - First acquaintance
The sermon
Meeting at the parish center
In a meeting with some Christians sometime ago we had a veryinterestingdiscussion onmatters of spiritual life. Their questions andeventheirobjections were so many that I accepted to return in order to continue our conversation. I considered it my obligation to present thebasicpoints of these discussions, because I think that they will be moregenerally beneficial, sincethere are many contemporary Christians whohave similar questions and objections.By introduction, I feel I should give a few details about my conversantsand mention some of the most characteristic featuresof theirpersonalities.This will help the reader to understand better theirquestions, because a person's questions and objections are closely relatedto his wholeway of life, and also to his personal experience with itsnegative andpositive aspects.
Fr.Philip: He is a very good priest, who works with missionary zeal withhis flock. He is very sensitive and very interested in effectively helpinghis flock. He regularly celebrates the Liturgy and tries to develop theliturgical life of his parish. He is a successful preacher. Nevertheless heis very hesitant when it comes to the ascetic teaching of the Church, notout of objection, but out of ignorance regarding this side of ecclesiasticallife, and on account of the ideas he was moulded with both in theUniversity and the Sunday Schools.Athanasios: He is a person who relies more on reason. He aims at hisinner self-improvement through reasoning. And it is true that many timeshis strong mind has helped him in the past to avoid serious mistakes.Therefore, he stresses the importance of reason too much. He wasinvolved in many social and political organisations, even in religiouscommunities, having been frustrated by all of them. He has beenlearning about the Orthodox tradition lately and seeks to live it. Yet, hisgreatest problem is the priority he gives to reason, its deification,absolutization, and autonomization on his part.Constantine: He has lived many years guided by his reason. Latelythough, he comprehended the great distortion which self deification of reason causes to spiritual life. He has powerfully realised that theexcessive stressing of reason is a heretical state which does notconstitute an Orthodox life. It is the Barlaamite attitude of theinterpretation of spiritual life. He has studied psychology. He can judgepeople by their words and reactions and present their personality withgreat ease. He has a great thirst for the Orthodox Tradition, read a fewbooks and realised that the Holy Fathers see man and the world throughanother prism. He would like to attain this life. However, he isdreadfully prevented by his previous knowledge, as well as by his ownbackground: a tradition founded on reason. Nevertheless, he is drawn topatristic teaching and makes great attempts to live it.
Irene: She is the only woman in the group. She has an intenselyemotional nature. She has had many negative experiences. She sees thepatristic teaching of the Church with great interest. She feels the Churchto be a Hospital, without anyone even having taught her this. A hospitalwhich cures the sick person. She feels she is sick and is seeking cure.But she sees cure only externally- as a deliverance from the pangs of aguilty conscience and a liberation from anxiety and insecurity. Sheconsiders love and loving care as cure.Basil: He is a person of conservative principles. His elderly age helpshim to be conservative. He has learned the practical side of Christianityand often revolts against the expression of new opinions. The ethical andpractical side of Christianity comforts him, and thus he sees the patristicteachings with considerable scepticism. His perspective of things is verylimited. The patristic analysis of the soul; discussions about the nous andthe heart; the distinction between reason and the nous, etc., bother himvery much. He considers them to be philosophical pursuits which distortspiritual life.This was the group with which we often conversed, after our firstencounter. Of course during the conversation I did not have thepossibility to cite passages of the holy Fathers of the Church. SometimesI used a few from memory. But the reader of this conversation can findfull patristic proofs in my books concerning the Orthodox Cure of theSoul, that is in 1) "Orthodox Psychotherapy", 2)"Therapeutic Treatment"and 3)"Conversations about the Orthodox Psychotherapy". In thesebooks the reader will find a greater analysis of the positions which arepresented here, where they are simplified. Furthermore one should notforget that what is presented here are the main points of the discussions,and of course, in a conversation one cannot make greater analyses, buttouches only upon the basic topics.

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