The only true healer

2 December 2021

‘Just as the darkness doesn’t disperse unless there’s light, in the same way sickness of the soul can’t be avoided unless the healer of our ailments comes and we’re united to him’. (Saint Symeon the New Theologian). The great saint, Symeon the New Theologian (who is given the same title as Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Gregory the Theologian) writes about the healing of the soul, a subject which, particularly today, is the most pressing concern for a great many people. Recourse to psychologists, the development of psychological sciences, the ambition of many young people to study psychology (as well, unfortunately, as the resort to occult groups who promise to ‘cure’ the soul, but simply confuse people even more), are all indicators which confirm the above statement. And we have no reason to deny the help given by professional psychologists to those who go to them to find a balance in their emotions. The psychologists help these patients to see concealed aspects of their self, to understand, to a degree, their actions, to be able to stand on their own two feet a little better, and to face life more confidently.

But the saint isn’t talking about this kind of therapy, which touches on only the bare minimum of our life. He’s talking about the real, substantive cure of the soul, which gives us the opportunity to see ourselves in all our dimensions, to orientate ourselves towards our real goal in life, to overcome the shackles of the passions and the outside tyranny of the evil one, to understand the majesty of being people made in the image and likeness of God. Saint Symeon stresses that this healing is offered only by Christ, as the physician of our souls and bodies, because he is God the Creator incarnate, who came precisely to seek out and save the sick, fallen person he created. He alone gives the grace, the Spirit, which has the power to unite with the depths of our self, to root out all the weeds from our soul, to cleanse it so that it becomes light and bright, as it was when it emerged from the hands of the Creator- or even more so, if it is adorned with virtues. As the psalmist prophet constantly proclaims: ‘Create a clean heart in me, God, and renew a right spirit within me’. Or, as the great niptic Father, Saint Diadohos of Fotiki puts it: ‘Cleansing the mind of a person is a capacity of the Holy Spirit alone’. And, in the words of Saint Symeon, for us Christ is ‘health, light, life, raiment, the occupier of our soul, bread, shelter and water’.