CRI Resources: The Theology of Illness and Time and Despondency: Regaining the Present in Faith and Life

Just as our Lord was not spared anguish and suffering, neither are we, as illness invades our lives. As Christians, we should understand this “problem of pain,” and equip others to do likewise. Please use my special gift to continue equipping fellow believers to walk courageously through the deep waters of illness and thus be a powerful testimony to our risen Lord:

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St. Isaac the Syrian once wrote to a man suffering from a great illness, “Be vigilant over yourself and consider the multitude of remedies that the true Physician sends to you for the health of your inner man. God brings illnesses for the health of the soul.”

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.

God wills, or at least authorizes and, in any case, makes use of illness for man’s well-being, to correct within him those things which sin has distorted or perverted, and to heal him of his spiritual ills. Thus, paradoxically, the illness of the body becomes, by divine Providence, a remedy which promotes healing of the soul.      

– Jean-Claude Larchet, The Theology of Illness


As part of CRI’s ministry to edify and equip Christians to stand firmly and fruitfully for the faith, we regularly screen quality Christian books and DVDs from a wide variety of sources. This screening and evaluation process is a welcome “value-add” for friends and supporters of the ministry, reducing their need to search for sound resources while also insuring that the resources offered are those worthy of CRI’s stamp of approval. We hope you will personally be equipped by this month’s resources, or share them as gifts for family or friends!


The Theology of Illness by Jean-Claude Larchet


“[This book] offers us fresh insight into the mystery of evil, sin, and illness, and their place within our struggle toward holiness….It gives us renewed hope, by locating ‘the problem of pain’ in a profoundly theological framework, in which ultimate resolution of the mystery of illness and suffering is provided by the healing touch of Christ Himself, the Physician of our souls and bodies.”

– from the Foreword by John Breck

Jean-Claude Larchet’s The Theology of Illness, already translated into several languages, now appears in English and explores biblical and patristic perspectives on sickness and redemptive suffering. The questions Larchet considers are fundamental: the origins of sin in a fallen world, its impact on physical health, and the healing of human nature by the incarnate Son of God. He explains healing as a means of glorifying God, stressing again the crucial role of prayer and sacramental grace in promoting genuine health. When illness plunges us into unfamiliar territory, even to the point of death, Larchet teaches us to marshal spiritual reserves in a society dominated by technology and materialism. In a time when the physician has been dubbed the high priest of the god of Modern Medicine, Larchet encourages us to situate these crucial experiences within the framework of their relationship to the unique reality of the Holy Trinity.

Time and Despondency: Regaining the Present in Faith and Life by Nicole M. Roccas

From the Back Cover

Idleness, apathy, restlessness, procrastination — these are symptoms of what early Christian theologians called despondency (acedia), a spiritual sickness rooted in a lack of care or effort. A condition as old as the ancients, despondency thrives in today’s culture of leisure, anxiety, and digital distraction. Time and Despondency is a penetrating synthesis of ancient theology, spiritual memoir, and self-help practicality. It envisions despondency as the extension of a broken relationship with the experience of time. Driven by fear of death and the anxiety of living, despondency drives us to abandon the present moment, forsaking the only temporal realm in which we have true fellowship with Christ.

The remedies offered by time-honored Christian thinkers for this predicament constitute not only an antidote to despondency but also stepping stones back to the present moment. In regaining the sacredness of time, we re-encounter the Resurrection of Christ in the dark and restless moments of our lives.

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