Pastoral Healthcare

One of the most important ministries of the Church throughout its history has been providing spiritual care to the sick. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has always being sensitive to the needs of this ministry from the years of the Byzantine Empire up until now. Its clergy are active in providing pastoral care to the ill, both on a parish level and in specialized facilities.  read more...

Pastoral Thought of the Week

April 21, 2017

The power of the Cross and the Resurrection
and the therapist’s efforts to heal

Jesus Christ was crucified because the world did not accept His love. He came to heal those in the world, but, even though men and women recognized Him as a miracle-worker, most of them just wanted healing and miracles rather than to bind themselves with Him on a personal level. Despite this, in order to save the world, being the Theoanthopos, He lifted all the sins of Mankind (rejection, sarcasm and hate) on His shoulders; He tasted death and resurrected in order to show the world, through His philanthropy, a different way of life. The power of Christ, the Great Doctor, is found in His crucifying love. But Christ in His humility always denied showing His power, recognizing God the Father as the only powerful One.

If we compare today’s therapists with Christ, they resemble a simple dwarf who throws himself in the arena of life and death, of sickness and health. In this struggle, therapists often feel as if everything they strive for is without meaning or result. This is because they do not have the necessary faith and love to deal with life and death.

Even with regard to their therapeutic efforts, they become disappointed. This is because they forget that the way one can contribute to the healing process is to understand, with humility, that it is not enough to use one’s theoretical knowhow, medical knowledge and technological methods. That which is of primary necessity is to be able to motivate the patient to want to be healed and to accept the therapy that the therapist has to offer. Without this, the therapist cannot do anything. To constellate this healing factor, one must first cultivate a trusting relationship with the patient and to respect him or her as a person with everything this may entail. One must also safeguard in one’s own heart the existential possibility of sickness and to have a remembrance of death. In this way, the therapist will cultivate within his or her self,  love for the sick which is absolutely necessary for someone to be healed.

What is certain in the therapist’s efforts to heal the sick is that it would be ineffective if one attempts to impose oneself as an all-powerful and absolute healer. Such behavior would be a disgrace to one’s therapeutic stature. One the other hand, it would be equally detrimental if the therapist completely projects his or her ailing self to the patient in order relay compassion and comfort. In contrast to this, the therapist needs to resemble himself or herself to the crucified incarnated God who resurrected “in glory” and gave life to the world. One needs to unite and live within the two poles of human existence— that of health and of sickness, which coexists with joy and sorrow; one must always remain steadfast in the hope and strength given by the God Incarnated, who is the Archetype of life and resurrection. In this way, the therapist will become an evangelist of His philanthropy.