The Science of Spiritual Medicine: Orthodox Psychotherapy in Action

Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos
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The book The Science of Spiritual Medicine consists of the basic chapters on healing from two books in Greek (which have not been translated into English) entitled Therapeutic Treatment and Discussions on Orthodox Psychotherapy. The author has reorganised the chapters and made various additions and modifications in response to contemporary reality. In the Part 1 of the book, Orthodox and Humanistic Psychotherapy, in the chapter The Science of Spiritual Medicine, the author analyses the content of Canon 102 of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council. He clarifies its medical terminology and therapeutic character, and explains why the pastoral ministry, which is a complete spiritual science, is linked with man's healing and identified with it. Neither Orthodox theology nor the Orthodox Church is an ideology or a philosophy, but a means of healing. According to the teaching of St Gregory Palamas, theology is theoria, the vision of God. The holy Fathers, as spiritual physicians, indicate and describe a method or healing, a therapeutic method. All the faculties and energies of the soul ought to be referred to Christ and turned towards Him. This therapeutic method is known as hesychasm. It is the basis and end of all Orthodox theology. The chapter Metaphysics and Theology is a tape-recorded talk given by the author to students of the Balamand Theological College of the Patriarchate of Antioch, in Northern Lebanon. The author comments that "the only scientific way to approach theological issues is through the saints". The holy Fathers show us how, from a state of illness and darkening of the nous, a person can progress through purification and illumination to reach spiritual health and deification. The difference between Orthodox psychotherapy and every other kind of psychotherapy, whether Western or Eastern, is defined and proved. Orthodox psychotherapy is not just a method but the life of the Church, through which a person acquires communion with God and other people.