Talk 23: Mental, Physical and Spiritual Disasters: The Lack of Discernment

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Set of 3 Audio CD's

(Duration: 3hrs 2mins) 

There is a mistaken view that the spiritual life concerns only spiritual matters, and that physical and mental issues are of little or no importance. However, diet, exercise, recreation, relationships, and managing stress and anxiety are not only part of the spiritual life, but a very important aspect of it. Though many do not realize it, the Church teaches that disregarding or abusing our bodies and minds is sinful and contrary to the teachings of the Church.

In this talk, Father Kosmas discusses this very relevant topic, drawing on the counsels of Elder Porphyrios of Greece (†1991). He emphasises that Elder Porphyrios was very understanding and lenient towards those who came to him because he understood the physical, mental, and spiritual weaknesses of Christians in these modern times. Listening to the elder’s discerning advice can help one avoid disasters that can even lead to the loss of one’s soul.

The following questions are also discussed: what is the difference between regret and repentance? Should parents have the boldness to ask God for discernment? Does one prepare for confession, or only for Holy Communion? Should we turn to God or to doctors in times of sickness? Are Orthodox Christians more responsible than other Christians for the evil in the world? Is it appropriate for a spiritual father to give advice on diet, physical activity and work? Why is being disorganized a sin? Is a lukewarm Orthodox Christian worse than a nonbeliever?

Other points covered in this talk include: how Elder Porphyrios counselled those who had suffered nervous breakdowns; examples of those whom the elder could not help; the relationship between fantasies and mental illnesses; the dangers of trying to imitate the spiritual gifts of elders; how true spiritual life begins with seeing one’s own sins; the attempt by some to avoid referring to the demons; and the frequent reluctance of Orthodox clergy to speak about fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and virginity, as opposed to many clergy of other faiths.