The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 11 months ago

Believe Yourself a Sinner - Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee 2021

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present a new five lecture series entitled ContemporaryWomen Saints. Saint John of Sinai, in his ladder of divine assent,writes that the lives of the saints arouse us to emulation of their courage andlead us to the virtue of humility and compunction. Contemporary Saints are particularly importantsince they acquire their love for God and holiness in the midst of our currentmilieu and demonstrate that spiritual acquisition is possible even in our own troubled times.The five lectures are as follows. Lecture number one the life of Saint Zaniaof Saint Petersburg. Lecture number two the life of Saint Elizabeth, the newmartyr. Lecture number three the life of Saint Maria of Paris. Lecture numberfour the life of Saint Metrona of Moscow. Lecture number five the lives of motherMaria of Olonettes, Schema Num Macaria, the beloved cepher, and Matushka Olgaof Alaska. For these and other of available titles, please visit ourwebsite at atristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenna, the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. A blessed Lord's Day to all of you, brothers and sisters, anda very happy beginning of the Triodian a big kiss to all of our prishionersoutside good strength. Did you hear that...

...incredible epistolescent, brothers and sisters,where St Paul expresses his confidence in his spiritual son Timothy? Why? Because, from his youth he has been acquainted with the Holy Scriptures. From hisyouth, can we say that about ourselves? Can we say that about our childrenand our grandchildren? We have to be able to say that about ourselvesand about our children and our grandchildren and our godchildren. This is why weare constantly studying the scriptures. Here. We just started a new series,sixteen lecture series on the epistle of the Romans from St Paul started last Wednesday. Man of you came, men of you didn't. If that scripture fromthis morning is pressing you come become more acquaint it with the epistle to theRomans, this magnificent treatise of St Paul. I'd like to just take you throughthree thoughts. Three thoughts this morning. The first is to welcome you tothe TRIODEAN and the second is to press upon you the central theme ofthe Gospel Today, which is the necessity for believers, for those who aregoing to be justified, to deeply believe that their sinners. If I hadto title the homily, I would just call it believing yourself a sinner.And then, lastly, I want to make a challenge to you for lentaccording to this theme. So first if a word about welcome you to theTRIODEAN. If you were at vespers last night, you would have seen themarvelous, the turtical action when the product salty left the chanderstand and came andmade his metanias in front of a book...

...that was play Jift under the iconof Christ on the Soleia. That book is the Sacred Book of lent,the Lenten Triodean, and we began our chanting, our lenten chanting, ourtriodean chanting, last evening. You might have heard the special volks are thismorning, followed by the unique words that always begin on this day open,unto us, the doors of repentance. This is the cry of the Churchat the beginning of lent. As we're looking at lant, we have onegoal, brothers and sisters, one and that is that we might be ableto repent more than we ever have. We're all conscious of being repenters andalso, at the same time, knowing that our repentance is insufficient, thatwe need to repent more deeply. It needs to be something not just ofthe mouth, but something that we really believe in our mind, and evensomething that a's at the core of our being, that has descended into ourheart, that we believe that we're sinners and that we need to repent.You remember that are proper mill you for life. Our true home is tobe near God and in paradise. That's where he fashioned us. That's wherehumans are meant to be, to live face to face in beautiful and mysteriouscloseness with God, a communion with him. This is what it means to bea human being. A dialog existed, a sacred life giving holiness, upholdingdialog. God began with man in paradise. He walked with men inthe garden and due to our own will,...

...we rejected that and our first parentsfell into tears and they were cast out of Paradise. Adam, fromthat moment has been out of sorts and we, as his descendants, knowhis lament. Saint Silauan describes us so beautifully and a chapter in his biography. It's near the end. I think it's around page four hundred and fortyfour. That easy want to remember when they're all fourth and it's just calledAdams lament. And in that chapter Saint Silauan describes the feeling that Adam hadwhen he was cast out of paradise and the feeling that all of his successors, all of the human beings, including ourselves, carry in our bosom.He says, since that time we have all been pining for a lost paradise. This is our life. This is our life when our Lord came fromheaven in search of us, to recover us, to bring us back tobe with him in paradise. When he came, he came to reignite thatdialog between God and man that had been broken. And how does it getreignited? What's the first thing he says out of his mouth to do it? The first word out of Jesus's mouth when he began his public ministry repentfor the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repentance, brothers and sisters, isthe re engagement of dialog with God. It's what we want to do andit's what's presented today to us in this Marvelous Gospel lesson of the Publicanand the PHARISEE. The pharisee was in God's house, of all places whereyou have a help to repent, and even in God's house he couldn't repent. He was so arrogant and so self...

...satisfied, so religious in exactly thewrong way. The publican felt deeply grieved about himself. He was moved andit showed in his life. It showed how he stood in God's house.How we stand in God's house is a picture of our inner disposition. Ifwe stand like this, I mean it's clear to God what we're saying.You know, Lord, really could you speed it up a little bit?Choir, could you think a little faster, please, earlier. There's only somuch time I have to give the God right. I mean, weknow that when you're doing this. We also know, you know, whenGod looked at us and we're looking around at all the people. You know, did she wear a new pair of shoes. Oh look, she's gotsome really cute red shoes over there. I mean, God understands what we'rereally interested in, right, but if you stand like this, God knowswhat you mean. And that's exactly how the Publican stood. He wouldn't lifthis head up to God. He stood because on the inside he was humble. He was thinking about his unworthiness. He was asking for mercy, buthe knew he wasn't worthy of it. And he did more. He tookhis fist and he beat of chest. He took physical action to express hisrepentance. And so do we. So do we. Lent is going tocall us to bows, lots of them. Lent is going to call us toprostrations, lots of them. They're not empty actions, brothers and sisters. These are the actions of repentance. This is an imitation of the publican. This is what those who believe deeply that they are sinners do. Iwant to read you something I've never read...

...you before. Of course, I'mholding the ladder of divine ascent from St John of Signa. A whole Sundayin lent is given to it, and for those of you who have beenmy parishioners for many, many moons. You know I I quote from theletter constantly, especially in Lyn, but the portion of that I'm going toquote to I never have before. It is the roughest, most difficult portionof the whole ladder. But it's exactly on our theme today. It comesfrom the fifth chapter and the fifth chapter is dedicated to what is true repentance, true repentance, and in the chapter St John of Sinai, the GreatAbbot of the Monastery of Sinon, describes an event earlier in his life whenhe had visited the very, very famous, populous city at this time of Alexandriain North Africa and Egypt, and while he was there he went tothe one of the most famous monasteries, a massive monastery, and he wentthere because the Abbot of that monastery had a reputation for holiness and he wantedto go and sit with him, he wanted to learn with him and andwith his monks. When he was there, he was introduced to an area outsidethe monastery called the prison. was called the prison and it was aplace where monks who had fallen, monks who had betrayed God in some way, had committed a mortal sin. It's where many of those monks went tolive together in repentance. John, when he went there, was mesmerized completelyundone by what he saw, and he spends a lot of chapter five reflectingon what he saw and what it meant to him and how, when hewas done, he had a completely different mind about repentance. I want toread you a section from this. This...

...is chapter five of the latter,on painstaking and true repentance, which constitutes the life of the holy convicts,and about the prison. I saw some of those guilty yet guiltless men.What a description he often in describing the men who were doing their penance there, who are really repenting for their sins. He often describes them with this doubledescription. He calls them undisgraced criminals, the guilty who are guiltless. Isaw some of those standing, their guilty yet guiltless in the open airall night until morning, never moving their feet by force of nature, pitifullydazed by sleep. Yet they allowed themselves no rest but reproached themselves and droveaway sleep from themselves with dishonors and insults to themselves. Others lifted up theireyes to heaven and with wailings and outcries, they implored help from their others stoodin prayer with their hands tied behind their backs, like criminals, theirfaces darkened by sorrow, bent to the earth. This is how they stoodbefore God. They regarded themselves as unworthy to look up to heaven, overwhelmedby the embarrassment of their thoughts and their conscience. Other sat on the groundin sackcloth and ashes, hiding their face between their knees and they struck theearth with their foreheads. Others were continually beating their breasts, recalling their pastlife and the state of their soul. Others Sat pensive bowed to the ground, swaying their heads, unceasingly, roaring...

...and moaning like lions from their inmostheart to their teeth. Some Beg the Lord that they'd be punished here andreceived mercy in the next world. They cried out punish, but spare.Some went about with downcast faith all day long. Noisome on account of thecorruption of their own bodies. Wounds and they refuse to take any notice ofthem. Many considered themselves unworthy of being fed like a human being, andthey flung the bread given to them away, since they had, in their sins, behaved like beasts. Where could you see anything like idle talk orirritation or anger? They did not even know that such a thing as angerexisted among men, because in themselves grief had finally eradicated anger. From thenumber of their prostrations, their knees seemed to have to come wooden, theireyes dim and sunk deep within their sockets. They had no hair, their cheekswere bruised and burnt by the scalding of hot tears. Their faces werePale and wasted. They were quite indistinguishable from corpses, their breasts livid fromblows and from their frequent beating of the chest. They spat blood. Wherewas to be found in this place any rest, any clean or starched clothes? None. When I had seen them and heard this, I almost despairedof myself, seeing my own indifference in...

...comparing it with their own suffering.Having stayed there for thirty days in the prison, impatient as I am,I returned to the Great Monastery and to the Great Shepherd, and when hesaw that I was quite changed and had not yet come to myself, likea wise man, he understood what this change meant and he said this tome. Well, Father John, did you see the struggles of those wholabor at their task? And I replied, I saw them, father, andI was amazed. And I consider that those fallen mourners are more blessedthan those who have not fallen and are not mourning over themselves, because,as a result of their fall, they have risen by a sure resurrection.There was his evaluation. How would you have evaluated those men? He wasscandalized, he was shocked, but then, as he perceived the fact that thesemen were doing what they were doing because of a great fall, becausethey had one concern, and that was to obtain repentance, he considered themblessed. He saw in them the image of Christ. Blessed are those whomourn. Blessed are those who are poor in spirit. Let us all,he concludes, we who are fallen, beware and seek for repentance. Whata word from St John of SNA. This is our goal, brothers andsisters, this is our goal for lent.

This is what lent is calling usto to take our repentance seriously. As high as you want to goin Pasca, go low and lent as joyful as you want to be inPasca. Put that much effort into humbling yourself, put that much effort intorepentance, because the measure of our repentance is the measure of our joy.This is what's going to come to us. So I want to end with anywith a challenge. Okay, don't worry, we're not going to createa little prison spot out here, and the reason is we don't have enoughland, all right, we don't have enough space for Y'all. We're notgoing to do that. But I am going to challenge to you to dosomething that is a Gargantuan feat, a major it will only be accomplished ifyou join me in a major effort to repent, and I have no ideaif I'm going to succeed, but I know if you also labor and wepriest Labor, we might be able to accomplish this together. I've never askedyou of this. I've never asked this of you before, but I wantto try it. Here's my challenge. I want us to try, forforty days, not to speak even one time of anyone else's sin for fortydays, for forty days to be like the Publican and not like the Pharisee, who all he could do was talk about other people's sins. Let's try. You're going to have to really think...

...through this and be prepared for allthe temptations, because if we try to do this together, you know howmuch the devils are going to try to trip us up day one. They'regoing to try to trip us up day one so that we say all it'llnever happen, let's just give up. But I'm going to ask you onthe Sundays of lent, I'll give you a little encouragement in each of myhammilies to keep going. We can just get back up. If you fall, if you make a mistake and you speak of anyone else as sins duringthe forty days of lent. Those of you who agree to do this,then let's just make an agreement at two. If we do that, boom,will get right back up. We ask God for forgiveness, we getbut right back at it. What do you say? Can we do this? Can we try to do this? It's going to be incredible. It'sgoing to be incredible if we try, I think the Lord will meet usand he'll pour a lot of grace on us, and Ha happy must hebe if we make a little success. Then our lent will be truly blessed, and maybe it'll be our more joyous PASCA that we've ever had in ourlife. To the glory of God on them. We hope that you haveenjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings ofthe Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles or if youwould like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dotpatristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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