My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
ORTHODOXY AS THERAPY (PART II)
by Protopresbyter Father George D. Metallinos, Professor Emeritus of the Athens University
2. The purpose of the Church's presence in the world--as a communion in Christ--is man's cure; the restoration of his heart-centered communion with God; in other words, of his noetic faculty. According to the professor Father John Romanides, "the Patristic Tradition is neither a social philosophy, nor a system of morals, or a religious dogmatism; it is a therapeutic method. In this context, it is very similar to Medicine and especially Psychiatry. The noetic energy of the soul that prays mentally and incessantly inside the heart is a natural 'instrument', which everyone possesses and is in need of therapy. Neither philosophy, nor any of the known positive or social sciences can cure this 'instrument'. This is why the incurable cases are not even aware of this instrument's existence.
The need for man to be cured is a panhuman issue, related firstly to the restoration of every person to his natural state of existence, through the reactivation of the third mnemonic faculty. However, it also extends to man's social presence. In order for man to be in communion with his fellow man as a brother, his self-interest (which in the long run acts as self-love) must be transformed into selflessness (see I Corinthians 13:8): "Love…does not ask for reciprocation..."). Selfless love exists: it is the love of the Triadic God (Romans 5:8, I John 4:7), which gives everything without seeking anything in exchange. That is why Christian Orthodoxy's social idea is not "common possessions", but the "lack of possessions", as a willed resignation from any sort of demand. Only then can justice be possible.
The therapeutic method that is offered by the Church is the spiritual life; the life in the Holy Spirit. Spiritual life is experienced as an exercise (ascesis) and a participation in the Uncreated Grace, through the Mysteries (Sacraments). Ascesis is the violation of our self-ruled and inanimate through sin nature, which is coursing headlong into a spiritual or eternal death, i.e., the eternal separation from the grace of God. Ascesis aspires to victory over our passions, with the intention of conquering the inner subservience to those pestiferous focal points of man and participating in Christ's Cross and His Resurrection.
The Christian, who is practicing such restraint under the guidance of his Therapist-Spiritual Father, becomes receptive to Grace, which he receives through his participation in the sacramental life of the ecclesiastic corpus. There cannot be any non-practicing Christian just as there cannot be a cured person who does not follow the therapeutic advice that the doctor prescribes for him.
3. The above lead us to certain constants, which verify the identity of Christian Orthodoxy:
a) The Church-as the Body of Christ-functions as a therapy center-hospital. Otherwise, it would not be a Church, but a "Religion". The Clergy were initially selected by the cured, in order to function as therapists. The therapeutic function of the Church is preserved today, mostly in monasteries which, having survived secularism, continue the Church of Apostolic times.
b) The scientists of ecclesiastic therapy are the already cured persons. Those who have not had the experience of therapy cannot be therapists. That is the essential difference between the poemantic therapeutic science and medical science. The scientists of ecclesiastic therapy (Holy Fathers and Mothers of the Church) bring forth other Therapists, just as the Professors of Medicine bring forth their successors.
c) The Church's confining itself to a simple forgiveness of sin so that a place in Paradise may be secured constitute alienation and is tantamount to medical science forgiving the patient, so that he might be healed after death! The Church cannot send someone to Paradise or Hell. Besides, Paradise and Hell are not places, they are ways of existence. By healing mankind, the Church prepares the person so that he might eternally look upon Christ in His Uncreated Light as a view of Paradise, and not as a view of Hell, or as "an all-consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). And this of course concerns every single person, because all people shall look eternally upon Christ, as "the judge" of the whole world.
(To be continued)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God