When asked to express the greatest commandment, Jesus says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37, New International Version). In this statement he brings together the three factors that govern our existence: Heart (body), soul (spirit) and mind (intellect). When the three are in sync, we find a complete expression of our humanity and a connection to the Divine. Therefore, it is essential that they are in balance.
Body and soul are dependent on each other. A healthy body will give opportunities for the soul to expand and renew. Science tells us of the benefits of exercise, not only to produce physically fit specimens, but also to boost self-esteem, confidence and alleviate mild depression.
The Armenian Church, as well as all the ancient Orthodox churches, has practiced this holistic approach to existence since its beginnings. Nearly one-third of the church’s annual calendar is devoted to fasting, so that physical cleansing can accompany spiritual transformation. Bible study is always coupled with exercises for the soul through penance. In other words, the health of body, soul and mind are essential for the completeness of the human being.