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February 10, 2016 + The Fathers of the Church Have Not Grown Old

from Elder Moses the Hagiorite

The great Fathers of the Church are her great theologians. They are the God-bearers, the God-inspired, the God-moved, the Enlightened, those who rightly administer the word of truth in their life, their teaching and their works. The strain of their theological ascent is what it is, not only because of their constant study of Holy Scripture, but also because of their experiences, since the Word of Scripture became the earnest acceptance of their heart. All the Fathers of the Church are characterized by the holiness of their lives and orthodox doctrine.

There is a great need today to return again to the sacred patristic sources, which are always inexhaustible and life-giving. Great Fathers are not only the ancient ones but also the newer ones, who continue on the path of those who have greater experience from the useful past of the Church. Contemporary theologians need to study faithfully the works of our holy Fathers. Distortion or ignorance of the sacred tradition and the creation of a new Theology, which bypasses the Fathers, who are considered obsolete, with a language which is culturally fashionable, more complex terminology, incomprehensible sometimes even to themselves, neotheological, anti-ascetical, uncut, unattested, easy-going, joyful and very happy, but also as shallow, lukewarm and perfunctory.

Insanity and Demonic Possession in Patristic Thought

by Mother Melania (Salem)

At times, people come to our monastery with concerns about close friends and relatives who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disease, or some other such disorder. Often they ask, “Is this really mental illness or is it demonic possession?” So, from the practical need to give a helpful response to such heart-breaking questions, we began studying the Tradition of the Church as it is found in the liturgical books, the writings of the Holy Fathers, and the Lives of the Saints.

Nearly everything we found astonished us:

  1. The Church does distinguish between mental illness and demonic possession.
  2. The Fathers generally view both the mentally ill and the possessed with compassion and, at times, even with admiration.
  3. In the view of the Church, if we aren’t saints, we’re insane.
  4. It’s better to be possessed by a demon than to be enslaved by our passions.
  5. The reason that it’s better to be possessed by a demon than to be enslaved by our passions is that enslavement to passions is in fact a worse type of demonic possession.

The Fathers distinguished between mental illness and demonic possession

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