Current Study: Orthodox Psychotherapy: The science of the Fathers by Metropolitan Hierotheos
I am undertaking a new book and discussing it here as I read it.
The last two blog titles have come directly from the section headings in Chapter 1. I didn’t have a better idea for replacing them, so I left them as such.
Metropolitan Hierotheos has given us so far a lengthy argument for Christianity being therapeutic. What is therapy? What do we need to be cured of?
“Therapy of the soul essentially means therapy and freeing of the nous. Human nature became ‘sick’ through its fall away from God.”
“The fall of man or the state of inherited sin is a.) The failure of the noetic faculty to function properly or to function at all b.) its confusion with the functions of the brain and the body in general and c.) its resulting enslavement to anxiety and the environment.”
Remember that the nous is roughly translated as “mind of the soul”.
So according to Metropolitan Hierotheos, we all have inherited a state in which our spirit is unable to function as God designed.
I know personally I have felt “off” spiritually at many different points in life. I knew things were wrong. Sometimes I haven’t been able to explain what the issue was exactly, I just knew that something wasn’t right.
Hierotheos puts words to what I couldnt. My nous was darkened, confused, and anxious. I needed God’s light. I still do.
Because our human nature is sick, we need a cure. Romans 5:19, “…even so, through the obedience of the One, the many will be made righteous.”
As a protestant, this was often explained to me as the solution to a legal problem. We sinned and we’re guilty and needed Christ to fix our legal issue.
Orthodoxy explains it more as a medical issue. We are sick and need to be made well. Our unrighteousness is a disease and the cure is Christ’s righteousness.
Saint Maximos, “When the body sins through material things, it has bodily virtues to teach it self restraint, so too when the nous sins through impassioned conceptual images, it has the virtues of the soul to instruct it.”
Christ is the cure and he gives us medicine. The medicine is prayer and other spiritual activities. Hesychism, or practice of stillness and listening for God. The Eucharist. Confession. Practicing the fruits of the spirit.
We constantly grow as Christians because Christ is working with us to make us well.
One thing I realized for myself is when I viewed sin as a legal separation between myself and God there was often a feeling of dread and shame every time I fell to habitual sin. Probably because I often think of the three strikes rule in Arizona where after your third offense you’re left in jail.
But seeing it as a spiritual health issue means that I can take control by taking my medicine. I suffer from chronic migraines, and just like I take medicine daily for those, I need daily medicine to cure my nous.
Christianity is therapy because it is the process of healing our nous.
Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.