28 September 2009

the pastor as physician of souls

From the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, from no later than the 4th century:

"You are to be like a compassionate physician: heal all that have sinned. Make use of all available saving methods of cure: not only cutting and searing, or using corrosives, but binding up, and putting the patient in a safe place, and using gentle healing medicines, and sprinkling comfortable words. If it be a hollow wound, or great gash, nourish it with a suitable salve, that it may be again knitted together and become smooth with the rest of the surrounding flesh. If it be foul, cleanse it with corrosive powder, that is, with words of correction. If the wound is due to the swelling up of proud flesh, cauterize it down with a sharp plaister [sic]--the threat of judgment. If it spreads further, sear it, and excise the decaying cells--with fasting end the plague...You must not be overly ready or hasty to do radical surgery. Do not quickly have recourse to the saw, with its many teeth. First use a lancet to lay open the wound, that the inward cause from which the pain is derived may be drawn out."

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