The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 1 year 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 Contemporary Women 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 and lead us to the virtue of humility and compunction. Contemporary Saints are particularly important since they acquire their love for God and holiness in the midst of our current milieu 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 Zania of Saint Petersburg. Lecture number two the life of Saint Elizabeth, the new martyr. Lecture number three the life of Saint Maria of Paris. Lecture number four the life of Saint Metrona of Moscow. Lecture number five the lives of mother Maria of Olonettes, Schema Num Macaria, the beloved cepher, and Matushka Olga of Alaska. For these and other of available titles, please visit our website 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, and a very happy beginning of the Triodian a big kiss to all of our prishioners outside 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 his youth, can we say that about ourselves? Can we say that about our children and our grandchildren? We have to be able to say that about ourselves and about our children and our grandchildren and our godchildren. This is why we are 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 from this morning is pressing you come become more acquaint it with the epistle to the Romans, this magnificent treatise of St Paul. I'd like to just take you through three thoughts. Three thoughts this morning. The first is to welcome you to the TRIODEAN and the second is to press upon you the central theme of the Gospel Today, which is the necessity for believers, for those who are going to be justified, to deeply believe that their sinners. If I had to title the homily, I would just call it believing yourself a sinner. And then, lastly, I want to make a challenge to you for lent according to this theme. So first if a word about welcome you to the TRIODEAN. If you were at vespers last night, you would have seen the marvelous, the turtical action when the product salty left the chanderstand and came and made his metanias in front of a book...

...that was play Jift under the icon of Christ on the Soleia. That book is the Sacred Book of lent, the Lenten Triodean, and we began our chanting, our lenten chanting, our triodean chanting, last evening. You might have heard the special volks are this morning, followed by the unique words that always begin on this day open, unto us, the doors of repentance. This is the cry of the Church at the beginning of lent. As we're looking at lant, we have one goal, brothers and sisters, one and that is that we might be able to repent more than we ever have. We're all conscious of being repenters and also, at the same time, knowing that our repentance is insufficient, that we need to repent more deeply. It needs to be something not just of the mouth, but something that we really believe in our mind, and even something that a's at the core of our being, that has descended into our heart, 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 to be near God and in paradise. That's where he fashioned us. That's where humans are meant to be, to live face to face in beautiful and mysterious closeness with God, a communion with him. This is what it means to be a human being. A dialog existed, a sacred life giving holiness, upholding dialog. God began with man in paradise. He walked with men in the garden and due to our own will,...

...we rejected that and our first parents fell into tears and they were cast out of Paradise. Adam, from that moment has been out of sorts and we, as his descendants, know his 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 forty four. That easy want to remember when they're all fourth and it's just called Adams lament. And in that chapter Saint Silauan describes the feeling that Adam had when 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 from heaven in search of us, to recover us, to bring us back to be with him in paradise. When he came, he came to reignite that dialog between God and man that had been broken. And how does it get reignited? 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 repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repentance, brothers and sisters, is the re engagement of dialog with God. It's what we want to do and it's what's presented today to us in this Marvelous Gospel lesson of the Publican and the PHARISEE. The pharisee was in God's house, of all places where you 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 the wrong way. The publican felt deeply grieved about himself. He was moved and it 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. If we 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 so much time I have to give the God right. I mean, we know that when you're doing this. We also know, you know, when God 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 got some really cute red shoes over there. I mean, God understands what we're really interested in, right, but if you stand like this, God knows what you mean. And that's exactly how the Publican stood. He wouldn't lift his head up to God. He stood because on the inside he was humble. He was thinking about his unworthiness. He was asking for mercy, but he knew he wasn't worthy of it. And he did more. He took his fist and he beat of chest. He took physical action to express his repentance. And so do we. So do we. Lent is going to call us to bows, lots of them. Lent is going to call us to prostrations, 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. I want to read you something I've never read...

...you before. Of course, I'm holding the ladder of divine ascent from St John of Signa. A whole Sunday in lent is given to it, and for those of you who have been my parishioners for many, many moons. You know I I quote from the letter constantly, especially in Lyn, but the portion of that I'm going to quote to I never have before. It is the roughest, most difficult portion of the whole ladder. But it's exactly on our theme today. It comes from 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 Great Abbot of the Monastery of Sinon, describes an event earlier in his life when he had visited the very, very famous, populous city at this time of Alexandria in North Africa and Egypt, and while he was there he went to the one of the most famous monasteries, a massive monastery, and he went there because the Abbot of that monastery had a reputation for holiness and he wanted to go and sit with him, he wanted to learn with him and and with his monks. When he was there, he was introduced to an area outside the monastery called the prison. was called the prison and it was a place 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 to live together in repentance. John, when he went there, was mesmerized completely undone by what he saw, and he spends a lot of chapter five reflecting on what he saw and what it meant to him and how, when he was done, he had a completely different mind about repentance. I want to read 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 double description. He calls them undisgraced criminals, the guilty who are guiltless. I saw some of those standing, their guilty yet guiltless in the open air all night until morning, never moving their feet by force of nature, pitifully dazed by sleep. Yet they allowed themselves no rest but reproached themselves and drove away sleep from themselves with dishonors and insults to themselves. Others lifted up their eyes to heaven and with wailings and outcries, they implored help from their others stood in prayer with their hands tied behind their backs, like criminals, their faces darkened by sorrow, bent to the earth. This is how they stood before God. They regarded themselves as unworthy to look up to heaven, overwhelmed by the embarrassment of their thoughts and their conscience. Other sat on the ground in sackcloth and ashes, hiding their face between their knees and they struck the earth with their foreheads. Others were continually beating their breasts, recalling their past life and the state of their soul. Others Sat pensive bowed to the ground, swaying their heads, unceasingly, roaring...

...and moaning like lions from their inmost heart to their teeth. Some Beg the Lord that they'd be punished here and received mercy in the next world. They cried out punish, but spare. Some went about with downcast faith all day long. Noisome on account of the corruption of their own bodies. Wounds and they refuse to take any notice of them. Many considered themselves unworthy of being fed like a human being, and they flung the bread given to them away, since they had, in their sins, behaved like beasts. Where could you see anything like idle talk or irritation or anger? They did not even know that such a thing as anger existed among men, because in themselves grief had finally eradicated anger. From the number of their prostrations, their knees seemed to have to come wooden, their eyes dim and sunk deep within their sockets. They had no hair, their cheeks were bruised and burnt by the scalding of hot tears. Their faces were Pale and wasted. They were quite indistinguishable from corpses, their breasts livid from blows and from their frequent beating of the chest. They spat blood. Where was to be found in this place any rest, any clean or starched clothes? None. When I had seen them and heard this, I almost despaired of 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 he saw that I was quite changed and had not yet come to myself, like a wise man, he understood what this change meant and he said this to me. Well, Father John, did you see the struggles of those who labor at their task? And I replied, I saw them, father, and I was amazed. And I consider that those fallen mourners are more blessed than 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 was scandalized, he was shocked, but then, as he perceived the fact that these men were doing what they were doing because of a great fall, because they had one concern, and that was to obtain repentance, he considered them blessed. He saw in them the image of Christ. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are those who are poor in spirit. Let us all, he concludes, we who are fallen, beware and seek for repentance. What a word from St John of SNA. This is our goal, brothers and sisters, this is our goal for lent.

This is what lent is calling us to to take our repentance seriously. As high as you want to go in Pasca, go low and lent as joyful as you want to be in Pasca. Put that much effort into humbling yourself, put that much effort into repentance, 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 any with a challenge. Okay, don't worry, we're not going to create a little prison spot out here, and the reason is we don't have enough land, all right, we don't have enough space for Y'all. We're not going to do that. But I am going to challenge to you to do something that is a Gargantuan feat, a major it will only be accomplished if you join me in a major effort to repent, and I have no idea if I'm going to succeed, but I know if you also labor and we priest Labor, we might be able to accomplish this together. I've never asked you of this. I've never asked this of you before, but I want to try it. Here's my challenge. I want us to try, for forty days, not to speak even one time of anyone else's sin for forty days, 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 all the temptations, because if we try to do this together, you know how much the devils are going to try to trip us up day one. They're going to try to trip us up day one so that we say all it'll never happen, let's just give up. But I'm going to ask you on the Sundays of lent, I'll give you a little encouragement in each of my hammilies 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 during the 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 get but 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's going to be incredible if we try, I think the Lord will meet us and he'll pour a lot of grace on us, and Ha happy must he be 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 our life. To the glory of God on them. We hope that you have enjoyed 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 of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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