The Inauguration of Spirituality through Repentance

By: João Pedro Javera   Gilberto Safra  

Christian theology provides some criteria for evaluating the authenticity of the inauguration of a spiritual path, and repentance seems to be the most valuable and unanimous of them among its various denominations. This is so because Christianity regards repentance (or metanoia, from the Greek) as an event of profound and potent transformation in the way by which an individual comes to direct and use his energies and potentialities, since it decentralizes and weakens the confidence he has in himself and in his natural and intellectual powers. Such distrust in self-sufficiency can disclose in the human being a wound, that can, eventually, be actualized as a request for help and a search for the encounter with the Other. The word repentance is commonly understood as the range of psychological phenomena produced by feelings of guilt and regret for mistakes made in the past. However, metanoia (literally "change of mentality"), saves greater and clearer meaning of the completeness of the phenomenon of repentance, since it is the transformation that takes place in the human consciousness after the individual has lost the confidence in itself (through suffering), setting himself in readiness for an intimate encounter with the Other (the only possibility for real constitution). Our present aim is, in dialogue with some great Christian contemporary theologians - Christos Yannaras, Sergey Horujy and John Zizioulas -, to understand the place repentance occupies in Christian theology and in its anthropology, investigating in which ways it inaugurates and sustains an individual in his spiritual path.

Repentance, Spirituality, Christian
Religious Foundations
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

João Pedro Javera

PHd Student, Clinical Psychology, Student/University of Sao Paulo, Brazil

I have been working as a clinical psychologist for ten years, since I graduate in psychology by the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in 2007. I have chosen Psychoanalysis as the method by wich I work, and he thinking and theory of Donald Winnicott are my main source of inspirration. In 2008 I satarted to attend the classes of a renowed psychology professor in my Country (Brazil) - Gilberto Safra - who points to the field of clinical psychology the importance of spirituality in human constitution and establishes dialogue between psychoanalysis and religion. Since then I have myself been insterested in the research of the meeting between this two different theorethical fields and dedicated part of my time studying Christian Theology. Professor Safra brought to my University in 2011 a Russian Professor of Theology and Philosophy in Moscow - Sergey Horujy - who presented a very weel grounded way of studying spirituality and taught us some criteria for evaluating the differnt available spiritual paths in contemporaneity and pointing some common pitfalls that we can usually find in them that can divert individuals from the encounter with divine Alterity. Since then my attention was directed to the possibility of finding in spiritual practices some pathologies, and the the meeting between spirituality and psychology got much more importance. In 2014 I started a Master studies with professor Safra in clinical department of USP and investigated the subject of repentance and how fundamental this experience is in human constitution. I established some conncetions between the way psychoanalist Donald Winnicott comprehends the experience he calls the "surging of concern" in little children experience in relation to their environment and how Christian theology presents its understanding about "metanoia", or rather, repentance, and the change of counsciousness it promotes in individuals. Both experiences point to human beings a change in the way their relate to the other and give them the oportunity to open themselves to alterity in an intimate relationship. Suffering in the context of an intimate relationship gives the oportunity to individuals to live a transformation and to constitute themselves. In the present time I am studying another point of intersection between winnicottian pshycoanalysis and Christian theology and antrophology using the concept of the "person". The title of my present research is "The person surging in clinic: anthropological implications in the destination of therapeutic work", in which I discuss the fundamental importance for psychologists to stablish a personal contact with their patients, trying to use the tecnique and the theory in a creative way, and not in a rigid and inflexible way, in order to help patients to heve their singularities revelaed. The possibility of understandig human beings as persons comes from Christain Theology which sees in the ralation of the Three Persons of Trinity the destination of men, the inspiration and goal for our relationships. Christian antrophology comes from theology and this understanting helps us to understand human condition and problems, not only in a psychological, but also in a spiritual way.

Gilberto Safra

Full Professor, Psicologia Clínica, UNiversidade de São Paulo, Brazil
São Paulo, Brazil

I am working with psychonalalisys researching on modes of comtemporary subjectivity and religiosity