Garments of Skin
In a society dominated by a pro-eugenics and pro-euthanasia mentality, where the present life is regarded as an end in itself, and life after death is overlooked, and where physical, psychological and psychiatric illnesses are at a peak, Metropolitan Hierotheos’s new book Garments of Skin, about biological life, illnesses, old age, death and the hour of death, helps us to understand that the value of human beings is not only a matter of biological birth and genes, but of regeneration.
In the pages of Garments of skin we find Orthodox interpretations of the inheritance of ancestral sin, the creation of the soul and the function of genes. We discover the Orthodox response to bioethical problems and illnesses, particularly cancer; and we can ponder the impact of psychology and theology on human life, the mutual interaction between soul and body, the meaning of life, and victory over suffering and death. Health depends on the harmonious co-existence of human beings with God, with themselves, with their neighbours and with nature. It is possible for someone who is healthy to be distressed, while someone else is free in spite of illness.
Garments of skin shows how essential the Church’s pastoral ministry is today. It offers hope and consolation in this fleeting life, which acquires meaning when it is inspired by eternity. Whatever advances are made in medical science, it cannot overcome death or restore human nature to its original state. “Through the Mysteries of Baptism and Chrismation, Christians receive within them spiritual DNA, the gift of the Holy Spirit, which functions as a spiritual vaccination to counter the temptations and trials in their lives.”
The ultimate aim of the Church is for human beings to take off the “garments of skin” of liability to suffering, corruption and death, so that, by living the Christian life within the Church the image of God within them may be illumined, and they may acquire an awareness of immortal life.