The Orthodox Christian Church Fathers and Pastoral Counseling – Specific Patristic Pastoral Approaches
Keywords:pastoral counseling, spirituality, Orthodox Church, Orthodox theology, Church Fathers, spiritual elders, patristic literature
The primary purpose of this study is to bring awareness to today’s Orthodox pastoral counselors that the pastoral counseling approaches of the Holy Fathers are still applicable. Ignorance of the Orthodox Faith can lead to poor Orthodox pastoral counseling, so it is necessary for an Orthodox pastoral counselor to understand the "mind of the Fathers" in order to be effective. The theoretical section of this paper presents Orthodox patristic pastoral counseling approaches and suggestions, while the project facet of this study is a demonstration of that theory in practice. This paper is based on the underlying assumption of the Orthodox doctrine that the Fathers were collectively given to know the reins of the heart, despite their individual limitations. The Fathers spoke and wrote after having lived the mysteries of God, having undergone prayer, fasting, and spiritual labor, and coming to the vision of God and His creation in a heart purified by divine grace. From this Orthodox Christian perspective, since the Fathers had the whole of creation revealed to them by the Holy Spirit, one can learn from them.