Clifton's series on "Pain of the heart" connects well with this bit of wisdom from Abba Zosimas' "Reflections" (newly translated into English and a stunning piece of patristic literature I'm reading now):
"Anyone who wishes and longs to be healed is obligated to endure whatever the doctor offers if they wish to be delivered from the illness. Indeed, no patient is happy being amputated or cauterized or cleansed with enema. Rather, every patient thinks about such things with disgust."
"Nonetheless, that same patient is convinced that it is impossible to be healed of one's illness without these. One surrenders to the doctor knowing that in return for a small amount of disgust, a great deal of healing will result for an
unhealthy condition and chronic illness."
Father Theodore, in his sermon yesterday, noted what great lengths we go when trying to fight our physical illnesses but how lazy we are when struggling with our spiritual maladies.
One thing I've really learned during my bout with chronic illness is that I really do care more for the body than the soul. I'm willing to put up with a revised diet, exercise, painful treatments, time invested in reading books and studying health related issues, etc.
However, when in comes to the healing of the soul I'm not so diligent. What is worse is that the methods of healing are all available to me in the Church. Just as I don't invent my own cures for my body, so I should not with my soul.
Fasting, prayer, almsgiving, silence, liturgy....all of these are given to us by God in His Church for our healing. Let us run to them with joy, knowing that just as good food, rest, and water heal the body, so too the spiritual practices of the Church will heal both our body and our soul.