On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 104: Spiritual Hospital

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desire. If we live by the Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5: 25)

The Church is a spiritual hospital. Within the church, we find the "medicine" that will heal our spiritual diseases, our sins and passions.  However, the purpose of the "treatment" we receive in the church is not to make us better adjusted to society.  On the contrary, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos in his book, Orthodox Psychotherapy states that “the aim of therapeutic treatment is not to make people sociable and to be an anthropocentric (man-centered/self-centered) exercise, but to guide them to communion with God, and for this vision of God not to be a fire which will consume them but a light which will illuminate them.” 

 Therefore, the basic aim of Orthodox therapeutic treatment is to attain communion with God.

What does "walking by the Spirit" mean? It means that we give ourselves to God in every way, shedding our passions. The fourth-century anchorite monk, Evagrius Ponticus, in the book, Despondency, tells us that the desires and passions of the flesh come from eight thoughts which continuously bombard us.  These eight thoughts, in order of occurrence, are gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, acedia (sloth, laziness or listlessness), vainglory, and pride. All eight have their root in self-love!

Healing of the passions - the eight thoughts - requires the work of God and man, a synergy.  Man is healed first by the grace of God, after which man must persevere in the holy sacraments of the Church to purify himself. Working within the Church, giving generously of time, talents, and resources enable us to keep God in our focus and "walk in the Spirit." A person "walks in the Spirit" when he has the grace of the Holy Trinity; then he is healed inwardly. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5: 16 RSV).

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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