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The human body: Ascesis and Exercise

Product: PELAGIA-EN-012


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Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos

The human body: Ascesis and Exercise

This book, published by the Apostolic Ministry of the Church of Greece, was written when the author, as Chairman of the Committee of the Church of Greece for the organisation of the 2004 Olympic Games, was studying the Church’s teaching about the human body as well as the exercise and athletic training associated with it. 

General Christian teaching on the human body is summarised, as well as the teaching of some Fathers of the Church who make mention in their writings of the great value and importance of man’s body compared with all the rest of creation. The bond between the soul and the body is made clear, as is the fact that the body accompanies the soul and is sanctified together with it, since the body has the potential to become the temple of the Holy Spirit.

A brief account is given of how closely exercise is associated with human life, and the essence and purpose of Orthodox ascetic practice. There is an analysis of the link between physical and spiritual exercise, as well as how they differ. Orthodox ascetic practice is not a matter of private mental and physical gymnastics, but a way of life and constant progress towards the healing of the soul, to enable a person to attain to communion and union with God. Through ascetic practice and participating in the Church’s Sacraments, with the Divine Eucharist as their focal point, the whole person (soul and body) becomes holy. 

 Read the rest of the book description below

 


book size (in cm): 14X21
Pages: 100
ISBN: 960-315-522-5
Language: English



Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos

The human body: Ascesis and Exercise

This book, published by the Apostolic Ministry of the Church of Greece, was written when the author, as Chairman of the Committee of the Church of Greece for the organisation of the 2004 Olympic Games, was studying the Church’s teaching about the human body as well as the exercise and athletic training associated with it. 

General Christian teaching on the human body is summarised, as well as the teaching of some Fathers of the Church who make mention in their writings of the great value and importance of man’s body compared with all the rest of creation. The bond between the soul and the body is made clear, as is the fact that the body accompanies the soul and is sanctified together with it, since the body has the potential to become the temple of the Holy Spirit.

A brief account is given of how closely exercise is associated with human life, and the essence and purpose of Orthodox ascetic practice. There is an analysis of the link between physical and spiritual exercise, as well as how they differ. Orthodox ascetic practice is not a matter of private mental and physical gymnastics, but a way of life and constant progress towards the healing of the soul, to enable a person to attain to communion and union with God. Through ascetic practice and participating in the Church’s Sacraments, with the Divine Eucharist as their focal point, the whole person (soul and body) becomes holy. 

As we read about physical contests we realise the connection between sport and Christianity, and that the Christian is seen as an athlete who fights the good fight of faith. It is also stressed that the holy Fathers, in order to make spiritual exercise comprehensible, and to demonstrate the means and method which should apply to spiritual struggles as well, use imagery taken from athletes and physical sporting contests. We see clearly that, just as in sport and training there are always two indispensable factors, namely, the coach and also the use of a suitable method, it is the same in the case of Orthodox spiritual training. The spiritual father takes the place of the expert coach, and the three stages of the spiritual life (purification, illumination and deification) are the Orthodox method which the Christian should use to reach the goal of the Church’s life.

At the end of the book essential messages which come out of athletic contests are listed, with emphasis on various aspects of the spiritual life and how effectively the Church, through its hesychastic and neptic tradition, can help athletes by “noetic coaching”.

As it carries out its pastoral ministry, the Church is also concerned with sport, which should have as its aim man’s spiritual perfection, and not be an end in itself in his life.





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