Defeating sin: Overcoming our Passions and Changing Forever
by Fr. Joseph Huneycutt
Published by Regina Orthodox Press, Salisbury, Massachusetts, 2007.
Defeating sin: Overcoming our Passions and Changing Forever is a book that provides a deep exploration of the passions and the virtues, spiritual warfare and the way toward repentance. It skillfully gathers like a honeybee from the writings of many Orthodox Fathers to produce sweet spiritual honey.
Fr Joseph provides a clear and yet deep picture of the Passions, how they affect our lives and how we can practically conquer them:
It is often unnerving to discover just what constitutes our sins. Some of our misdeeds, thoughts, and actions can seem so mundane and natural. Yet upon further inspection we realize that they represent a real hindrance toward reconciliation. We know that, ultimately, the cause of all our sins is disobedience.
With clarity of vision and originality of expression he weaves throughout his book a pastoral understanding of how to use this self-knowledge in the process of spiritual growth:
The passive aspect of the soul is first cleansed and then the intelligent power of the soul. The faithful are initially delivered from the passions of the flesh; then – through harder prayer and more intensive struggle, from the passions of hatred, anger and rancour. When man manages to be freed from anger and rancour, it is obvious that the passive aspect of his soul has almost been purified. Then the entire warfare is carried out in the intelligent aspect, and the athlete wars against pride, vainglory and against all vain thoughts. This warfare will follow him to the end of his life. But all this course of purification takes place with the help and energy of grace so that the faithful becomes a vessel receptive of rich divine grace.
As the book unfolds, it becomes increasingly evident that the unbroken Tradition of the Church is the sole key to understanding God’s revelation to man. Because Fr Joseph has so firmly placed his trust in the holiness of this Tradition, his thinking, both creative and inspired, elucidates the way of salvation that leads to the renewal of life.
Not only is a sound theological understanding of the doctrinal themes provided, but practical advice is also offered, as well as inspirational prayers (including an analysis of St Ephraim’s prayer recited in Lent) and meditation. Very useful definitions are provided in the Appendix, synthesising common terminologies utilised by the Fathers.
The advice provided serves as a wonderful tool to assist the preparation for, and the undertaking of, a good confession.
Source: August-September 2015 Lychnos Edition