Phronema is a Greek term that is used in
Eastern Orthodox theologyto refer to "mindset" or "outlook"; it is the "Orthodox mind". [http://www.orlapubs.com/AR/R183.html] The attaining of "phronema" is a matter of practicing the correct faith ("orthodoxia") in the correct manner ("orthopraxia"). Attaining "phronema" is regarded as the first step toward " theosis", the state of "glorification". [http://www.orthodoxfaith.com/spirituality.html]
Therapeutic method of Orthodoxy
These terms are part of what is called the "therapeutic method" of Orthodoxy, or the "therapeutic tradition". Orthodox theology teaches that a faith is true if it heals spiritual sickness, and brings the faithful to "behold the uncreated Light". [http://www.orthodoxfaith.com/spirituality_difference.html] Phronema refers to "the completely self-sacrificial trust and faith in religious and ethical truths ... from the voice of God.... an unshakeable certainty about the truth of Faith... undiminished and vibrant throughout life, a continually verified daily experience," [http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/dogmatics/stylianos_theologian_society.htm] "a growing feeling for and understanding of God's and the practice of Orthodox piety — Orthodox Worship and behavior." [http://www.orlapubs.com/AR/R183.html] The "phronema" is vested in tradition "against all heresies and schisms of all times". [http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7116.asp] The "mind of the Fathers" is also termed "phronema" [http://www.anglicancommunion.org/documents/authority/resources.html] as is the "mind of the Church". [http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/church_tradition_florovsky.htm]
The phases of phronema, the therapeutic tradition leading ultimately to theosis, are (1) purification, (2) illumination, and (3) divinization. [http://www.orlapubs.com/AR/R183.html] Orthodox sources state that the Roman Catholic faith lacks the therapeutic tradition and tends toward sentimentality and ethicology [http://www.orthodoxfaith.com/spirituality_difference.html] and is "juridically focused"; [http://www.orlapubs.com/AR/R183.html] that the union of prayer and theology resulting in a union of heart and mind "and a knowledge of things that can only come from the Holy Spirit" is lacking in Catholic theology. [http://www.acrod.org/sn/sn4a.shtml]
Phronema in the western Church
The term itself is used occasionally by theologians. For example, John Henry Cardinal Newman, in July
1859, wrote of the nature of the consent of the faithful, which he described in part as involving "a sort of instinct, or "phronema", deep in the bosom of the mystical body of Christ". [http://www.newmanreader.org/works/rambler/consulting.html]
The broader concepts concerning union with God through Christ are referred to in a variety of ways. The progression of
prayerlife is typically divided into the "purgative", "illuminative", and "unitive ways". 1 The relevant area of theology may be called "ascetical theology", "mystical theology", or the "spiritual science". 2 Frequently the word "perfection" is used, e.g., the "art of perfection". St. Teresa of Avila's [http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintt01.htm] book on the subject is titled "The Way of Perfection" ("Camino de perfección"). [http://www.catholicfirst.com/TheFaith/CatholicClassics/StTeresa/way/wayofperfection.htm] Union of prayer and theology is found through "contemplative prayer" and the [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/john_cross/canticle.html poetry] of St. John of the Cross. [http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintj23.htm] The goal is expressed in the west using similar language: "It is through Jesus Christ, and in His body and in His likeness, that every man must participate in the divine union." 3 The consensus of the Church Fathers may be called "tradition", or "the faith of the early fathers" (Jurgens).
Footnotes and references
*1 This division is quite common. See for example Charles Hugo Doyle, Guidance in Spiritual Direction.
*2 Adolphe Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical Theology, ISBN 0-89555-659-6, p. 2.
*3 Very Rev. J. Tissot, The Interior Life, Pt. III, Bk. III, §43.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.