The Theology of Illness by Jean-Claude Larchet
By Jean-Claude Larchet
Trans. through John & Michael Breck. Orig. name Théologie de l. a. maladie
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L i 68 THE THEOLOGY OF ILLNESS humble the burning desires of the flesh. "76 The suffering that accompanies siclmess likewise produces repentance,77 facilitates compunction,78 and leaves the soul well disposed toward prayer. 79 These last effects are particularly fruitful, since they essentially motivate all spiritual life. Nevertheless, we need to be clear about the fact that the purification of passions and the acquisition of virtues, together with various spiritual benefits, are not the effects of siclmess itself, nor of the suffering that accompanies it; rather, they are gifts from God bestowed in the framework of illness.
38 Thus, paradoxically, the illness of the body becomes, by ~ivine Providence, a remedy which promotes healing of the soul. "40 The unpleasantness, the pain and the suffering that accompany illnesses, therefore, should be considered in the same way as the usually inevitable side-effects of medicines used by physicians. As St John Chrysostom remarks, if we accept the latter, all the more we should accept those that come from God. , for example, St Barsanuphius, Letters SIS; StJohn of Gaza, Letters 643.
2. I. 5. 23Cf. 9. 24Lift ofAntony 14. 25 HistolJ of the Monks of Syria, Prologue, ro. 6, an addition to the Syriac version: "another wonder of the Blessed One, which our Lord Jesus Christ did through the hands of the Blessed One ... " 26Lift ofAntony 56. C£ Theodoret, op. 6. Prayer Prayer is the first among all the religious healing arts because it is the foundation and a necessary element of all the others, and because it 27Lift ofAntony 58. 8. Theodoret, op. 7- I I I I I1 'I I 86 THE THEOLOGY OF ILLNESS is uniquely efficacious in combating illness.