St Nectarios – On the Immortality of the Soul
It is a fundamental tenet of our Orthodox Christian worldview that we are created as both body and soul. In fact, this is the great factor that separates man from the rest of creation. Whereas creation was brought into existence by the phrase “Let there be”, it was Man that was formed by the hands of his Divine Creator, and brought to life by God’s divine breath. We received a living body and a living soul by God through this creative act. More than this, we were created “In the image and likeness” of God.
The true significance is highlighted by St Nectarios of Aegina when he explains: “Because he became the image and likeness of God and [he] was created in order to live eternally and dwell in the same place as the heavenly angels. This is a marvellous reality, and an example of God’s supreme love for Man and his nobility in the eyes of God.” This great destiny is achieved in this life by the coworking of both soul and body. According to the teaching of St Nectarios, the body may well die, but the soul lives on and is immortal. In fact, the soul has “supernatural, infinite aspirations” according to the Saint. If the soul were not immortal, and died together with the body, then it follows that the soul would be dependent on the body.
The soul would be reliant on the body, and therefore the body is primary. The reverse is true, however, and it is in fact the soul which is master over the body. The dominance of the soul over the body is proven by the way that we submit our body to the will of the soul. Acts of self denial, sacrifice, principles and ideas are some examples of the will of the soul being expressed through the body. According to St Nectarios, such abstract ideas would be meaningless to a soul that was mortal. May we too understand the correct significance of our souls and bodies, so that we can use our whole being for the fulfilment of God’s Divine Plan.
Source: Lychnos October / November 2016