This second volume of Eastern Themes entitled
sets out the difference between Orthodox and Western lifestyles. Orthodox and Western Ways of Life When we refer to East and West we are not simply speaking about two geographical regions, but a particular approach to life and a specific attitude towards all the issues of current concern to mankind. ‘Orthodox and Western Tradition in Our Lives’ stresses the basic differences which exist between the two traditions. There is an analysis of how the Greeks ought to behave in Europe, within the context of their Orthodox tradition, because there are many Europeans today who are seeking the spiritual foundation of the Byzantine-Roman heritage and we ought to communicate the Orthodox spirit and way of life to them, to set them thinking and change them. The therapeutic method possessed by the Orthodox Church is unique, and is the best means for us to help Western Europeans, but first it is essential for us to know and live our own Orthodox tradition. Unfortunately it is clear that many modern Greeks have become westernised and have abandoned the tradition of their native land. There are accounts of the life and work of St Kosmas Aitolos and St Olympia the Deaconess. ‘The Creation of the World’ provides an answer to many contemporary cosmological, ecological, scientific and social questions. When the Fathers of the Church talk about the creation of the world they speak theologically not philosophically. They underline the truth that the universe did not come about by chance: God is the Creator of the world and of time. They teach that God is interested in the whole creation, since He directs it by His uncreated providential energies, and not by so-called natural laws. ‘The Logoi (Principles) of Beings’ explains the teaching of St Maximos the Confessor about the uncreated energies of God which govern creation. Purification of the heart and illumination of the nous are needed in order that we may discern God’s energy within the universe, and stand with great reverence before man and creation. The central points of the Lord’s Prayer and the deep spiritual meanings it conceals are analysed in the chapter ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, according to the commentary of St Maximos the Confessor. The extent to which someone saying the prayer grasps the spiritual meaning depends on the level of his spiritual life. ‘The Struggle against Evil Spirits’ is an account of the devil and his work according to the teaching of St John of Damascus. To avoid the devil’s deception and wiles we must be steadfast in following the therapeutic method of the Church, which is noetic hesychia. When we become temples of the Holy Spirit and possess the grace of God, we shall make war on the devil and he will have no power at all over us. The section on ‘Knowledge of God and Self-Awareness According to the Teaching of the Devil’ explains that purification of the heart and illumination of the nous are preconditions for knowing God, because otherwise the knowledge of God is demonic not real. Through reading about true and satanic self-awareness we perceive that it is a demonic deception to attempt to analyse and know oneself through self-awareness. ‘Confession and Psychotherapy’ examines the differences between Orthodox psychotherapy and humanistic psychotherapies, and how man’s soul is healed through confession and repentance. There is an explanation of what sin is, what ‘the forgiveness of sins’ signifies, what repentance means, and how spiritual fathers cure people. Confession to God through prayer is no substitute for confessing our sins to our spiritual father. ‘Virginity in the Orthodox Tradition’ explains that physical virginity is valued insofar as it is accompanied by spiritual virginity. Spiritual virginity can be acquired even by married Christians. A thought-provoking paper on ‘The Relationship between Parents and Children’ spells out the prerequisites for a good Orthodox upbringing. The book refers repeatedly to the holy Fathers of the Church, particularly St Gregory Palamas, who expresses the neptic tradition of the Church in all its fullness.
Μητροπολίτης Ναυπάκτου Ιερόθεος