Saint Panteleimon, healer of the soul

27 July 2022

In the dismissal hymn for the great martyr Saint Panteleimon, whose memory we keep today, we ask the saint to pray to the Lord for the remission of our sins. You’d expect that, from such a great physician as Saint Panteleimon, we’d ask for the healing of our bodily ailments, but instead the Church asks for the cure of our spiritual sicknesses, the passions, which are often the cause of bodily distress. And spiritual illnesses are worse because bodily ailments might actually do good to people, spiritual good, by bringing them to repentance; but sicknesses of the soul, that is the passions, lead to eternal death.

This is why the priority for Christians, especially monastics, must be a continuous struggle for purification from the passions and the healing of disorders of the soul. If a serious, terminal illness befalls us, we’re very worried and seek out the right doctors, the proper medication and the best hospitals, even if this means going abroad in order to get well. But we don’t worry to the same extent, or as much as we should, over sicknesses of the soul. And certainly all of us, including those of us in the ranks of the monastics, aren’t well in every aspect of our life. We also have disorders of the soul which we know about and must take note of. It’s a good thing, then before we leave this world- because it’ll be too late thereafter- to ask God for his grace to heal the various sicknesses of our soul, through the intercessions of the saints, of the Mother of God and particularly of Saint Panteleimon, the victorious healer and great physician who is celebrated today. Amen.