The texts included in this book were written in the period 1987-1995, while the author was serving in the Archdiocese of Athens. They offer a commentary, in the context of pastoral service and from the standpoint of the Orthodox Church, on various subjects which occupy our present age. There are four sections: ‘Comments’, ‘Papers’, ‘Interviews’, and ‘Points to Note’.
The first section, ‘Comments’, emphasises that people today are under terrible pressure. The public are on the receiving end of many trends and influences. Their personal freedom is constrained on a daily basis. In ‘Television and Society’ and ‘Ethics and the Electronic Media’, we observe that in most cases television, radio, periodicals and newspapers misinform people and darken their minds. People today have to make a huge effort to ensure their inner freedom. In spite of scientific and technical progress, we actually live in a pagan and idolatrous age. Rationalism, which created many problems in the past, continues to do so today. ‘The Neo-paganism of Satanism and Rationalism’ asserts that only the Orthodox Church with its rich inheritance is able to rescue us from the curse of the upsurge of Satanism and Rationalism, because the Church preserves personal freedom. ‘Reincarnation and the Christian Faith’ shows that nowadays a particular syncretism prevails, which produces great confusion in matters of faith and life. ‘Sober Intoxication in the Orthodox Tradition’ discusses the human being who has been perfected and restored to health. When someone is filled with the love of God he is distinguished by simplicity, love and self-emptying. He is liberated from selfishness and acquires love for God and his fellow man. He even overcomes death. The second section includes ‘Orthodox and Humanist Education’. Orthodox education aims at the complete spiritual integration of the person, the development of his personality and the discovery of the true meaning of life. Reference is made to the teaching of St Isaac the Syrian on the three forms of knowledge. Contemporary societies lack complete and rounded education. Orthodox education does not reject human wisdom and knowledge, but puts them in their rightful and important place. It has much to offer young people today because it presents true life: Christ Himself. ‘The Church’s Pastoral Service to Young People Today’ examines the problems which concern young people nowadays and the Church’s way of responding to them. Although pastoral ministry to the young is difficult and calls for sacrifice and generosity, it is nevertheless absolutely indispensable, because it provides what young people are searching for and offers answers to their inner existential problems. Chapters on the subject of drugs show us the work being done by the Church, which rescues young people not only from drugs, but from every sort of addiction, and leads them to deification. The Church, through its life and theology, and the method of healing at its disposal, is able to liberate a person from passions; the whole problem of dealing with drug addiction consists in enabling the dependent individual to become free. By means of life in Christ we can face all life’s trials in the right way. As explained in ‘Young Offenders and Victims’, the Church does not restrict itself to nurturing children, but is also interested in educating the whole family for the better. Within the Church young people can find their family and true fellowship, and discover the meaning of life. The interviews in the third section of the book are thought-provoking. The first one was given on the occasion of the start of the new catechetical year. It explains that catechesis in the Church is very closely linked with tradition, and is the quintessential work of our Orthodox Church. Apart from the work of catechism, we are shown all the efforts made by parishes to bring children into the Church and to make them feel part of the family. ‘Points to Emphasise’, the fourth section of the book, includes an article directing our attention to Archimandrite Sophrony’s book ‘On Prayer’. For more about Elder Sophrony the reader can turn to the interview which refers to Archimandrite Sophrony and his Monastery.
Μητροπολίτης Ναυπάκτου Ιερόθεος