Ancient Liturgy as Psychotherapy

In this article, Metropalitan Hierotheos S. Vlachos speaks of how Christianity is a type of psychotherapy; how certain liturgical aspects of the faith heal the soul and conform us into the image of Christ!

The Greek word for soul is psyche, so do not let the word psychotherapy or even psychology scare you. My intentions of using this  paradigm is not for modern reasons – to delve into the modern industry and academia of psychology, but in order to properly embrace the study and formation of the soul we must actually refer to it and the very need for a categorical study of its usage (Christianity has actually shied away from this arena, when we should be dominating it).

The psyche is the inner, non-material part of humankind. It demands cultivation and renewal through liturgical actions. When we give to God in our worship, we should anticipate the cultivation and renewal of our soul. Orthodox worship is designed to put our souls at rest, not to excite our souls and pump us up.

Orthodox worship puts us in contact with the living God and the history of this God. God’s plan pans throughout all time and we should include ourselves into this eschaton. Remember, the New Covenant did not stop at the Church of Acts, it continued throughout the First Century on, and we need to have succession from this time, not separation!

Ancient liturgy places us in ancient communion. Modern liturgy places us in modern communion. Christ’s power is in the ancient. You can be assured of this by simply opening the Bible. It is an ancient work, and liturgy is inseparable from this work. Modern liturgy (pop music and historically standardless utterance) is grown from a modern culture that is not at all theocratic or even prophetic. It is fueled by Hollywood and other secular avenues. Why would one want to offer praise through secularism? And why would one want to be cultivated through secularism?

The cultivation of our souls demands the sacred, the Holy, and the oneness of God! The Church has worked very hard over the centuries to make certain that the icons, the altar, the hymns, etc., are all palatable to the soul, able to conform us to the image of Christ. As we give to God in our worship, God gives back to us a renewed heart, ready for battle, ready for what the enemy attempts to destroy us with. If you want to do great things for Christ, you must be willing to delve into great things theologically, and the worship of the Orthodox Church is all things theological!