This book looks at the views of the Orthodox Church with regard to various religious and philosophical systems originating from the East and the West.
Attention is drawn to the hesychastic and neptic tradition possessed by the Orthodox Church, which needs to be expounded and experienced in our day. In ‘Eastern Religions and the Orthodox Church’ contemporary religious movements are examined and analysed. The reasons why they sprung up and why they spread so quickly are discussed, as well as the attitude of the Orthodox Church towards these movements. The main emphasis is on the great value of the neptic tradition, which brings true peace. Only within the Orthodox Church can someone become complete and develop fully. ‘Traditional Catechism’ shows exactly what catechesis means within the Church’s tradition. It ought to restore people to the state before the Fall, to have as its aim the illumination of his nous and deification. Stress is laid on how such catechetical instruction can be offered to young people. ‘The Search for Purification’ discusses how the Fathers speak about purification, and what they mean when they say that the heart must be cleansed. When one’s heart is purified one becomes more sociable and balanced, and behaves rightly within society. In accordance with the teaching of St Gregory Palamas, the ‘Prayer of the Nous in the Heart’ is a complete science and the basis of spiritual life. We learn how noetic prayer develops in the heart, the dangers which arise during the course of it, and everything connected with this mystical activity. ‘Experiencing Deification (Living Theology)’ explains that theology is first and foremost an experience, and that our aim should be deification. Even today there are Fathers who behold God, who are bearers of the Orthodox tradition. Reference is made to the theology of St Silouan the Athonite. ‘An Orthodox Presence’ records the author’s personal impressions of a visit to the Monastery of St John the Baptist in Essex, England. It refers to the Elder of the Monastery, Archimandrite Sophrony, a bearer of the Orthodox tradition and way of life, and to the brethren of the Monastery and their daily routine. On Sundays the Monastery is focal point of ecclesiastical life, as is every Orthodox Monastery and Parish in which the hesychastic and neptic tradition of the Church is put into practice. ‘Pastoral Guidance of Penitents according to St Basil the Great’ demonstrates the value of the holy Canons and their role within the Church, using the canonical ordinances of St Basil the Great as a starting point. The holy Canons are not legal texts, but have as their aim the healing of man, helping him to progress from the darkening of his nous to enlightenment. They guarantee the good order of the body of the Church. ‘St Hierotheos, Bishop of Athens’ looks at the basic elements which constitute saintliness and express it, as illustrated by the figure of St Hierotheos, who was a disciple of St Paul, Bishop of the Church of Athens, teacher of St Dionysius and a hymnographer and writer. Our era is a ‘time to act’, a time when this tradition should be expressed and experienced, since it is the most potent safeguard for Orthodox Christians in the critical times ahead.
Μητροπολίτης Ναυπάκτου Ιερόθεος