The Arena
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Episode · 1 year ago

Christmas Changes Our Lives - Sunday after Nativity


Christmas Changes Our Lives - Sunday after Nativity

Good Deeds: Cultivating a Life of Virtue 

If you are interested in other available titles, or if you would like more information on Patristic Nectar Publications, please visit our website at  

Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present good deeds cultivating a life of virtue, a seven part lecture series. These lectures expound the place of good worksin the salvation of the Christian the nature of virtues and vices and the traditionalmeans for cultivating virtue in the Christian life. Saint John of Damascus, in histext on the virtues and the vices in the Philocalia, writes that everyman is said to be made in the likeness of God as regards his imitationof God through virtues God like actions. The study and cultivation of virtue isthe quest both to love God and also to become a true human being.The lecture titles include Lecture One, good deeds, understanding virtues and vices.Lecture two, the Cardinal Virtue of Justice, Lecture Three, the Cardinal Virtue ofWisdom, Lecture Four, the cardinal virtue of courage, Lecture Five,the cardinal virtue of temperance. Lecture six, conquering the seven deadly sins. Lectureseven, after God, the failure of the secular ethic. For theseand other available titles, please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org,and now the arena with Father Josiah Trenna.

In the name of the father andof the son and of the Holy Spirit, Christ is born Mary Christmas. Brothers and sisters, on the third day. I hope that your heartsare filled with the joy of the great feast of Christmas and that you'll keepyour mind and your heart affixed to the celebration of the Nativity during all thedays of Christmas. That's why we have holy days. That's why we don'tjust celebrate the day one day and then forget about it. We keep itgoing so that it will be planted within us, deeply rooted in us.This year has been particularly joyful for me because of the arrival of two newcontributions to the glorification of our feast. The first is our magnificent New Nativityicon, which I hope you are all able to venerate when you came intothe NARTHEX. I just stand in amazement looking at that magnificent icon, andthe second is the incredible almost twenty foot tall Christmas tree out on our plaza, which has been such a joy. Are Ladies just and also they hadsome help from the men, not very many of us, but they hada little bit of help. The ladies just brought us to a greater stateof a beauty and decoration outside, with all the magnificent decorations just welcoming ushere. Brothers and sisters, I want to speak a little bit about themeaning of the tree, of the Christmas tree and it's fruits. You know, the scripture say that a tree, a large, well established tree,is the sign of the righteous man. From the first Psalm, blessed isthe man who doesn't walk on the Council of the wicked right, but hismeditation is in the Law of the Lord.

Day In night, he meditates uponthe law of the Lord and he will be like a tree firmly plantedby streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season and its leafnever withers, and whatever he does, he prospers. This is the beginningof the PSALTER of our wisdom, literature, and it finds its fulfillment. Thetree is a picture of Christ and particularly the Christmas tree with the BethlehemStar on Top, with all the magnificent fruits hanging from the branches. Whenyou see it, think of your savior, think of the one righteous man,the one who has produced so much fruit and continues to produce so muchfruit. If I had to entitle this homily, I think I would entitleit Nativity and its fruits. How does Christmas change our lives? You know, yesterday we celebrated this synaxis of the mother of God, which is alwaysthe day after Christmas. Interestingly, it's the oldest of all the feasts offunny EA, the oldest of all the merry and feasts December twenty six.Father Thomas gave a magnificent homily and yesterday's Liturgy on the mother of God asthe the potentiality she shows us the potentiality of human life. As a resultof Christmas, God has bowed down so low to lift US up so high. And what's the definition of that Highness? Where can we look to see what'spotent, the potential for us, the Virgin and today, brothers andsisters, the twenty seven. That picture is complete by the Church by honoringthis man, the Holy Proto Martyr,...

...and Archdeacon Stephen, the first martyroffered to Christ. These two the mother of God. Yesterday and today,the Holy Proto Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen, provide for us a picture of whathas happened to us because of Christmas, definitively how the human race has beenchanged and therefore, how we're being changed. What were becoming like, what ourfuture is as people. You see in the Virgin Mary, of course, the radiant virtues humility, Christian humility, obedience, faith. You see inSaint Stephen's life, as you just heard. You heard in Saint Stephen'slife all about his love of enemies. As he was being stoned to death, he did the unthinkable. He yearned for the salvation of those holding thestones and he prayed for them, just as Christ prayed at the cross.Father, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing. He was aman who have chosen by the church in Jerusalem to be the chief of thedeacons because his life had become, as a result of his union with Christ, the very definition of almsgiving. He lived to serve people, he livedto help people in need, and so he was put in charge of thefeeding of the three thousand widows, the thousands of those that were there thatneeded help. Think more about his life and how he's a model of potentiality, a model of what the fruit of Christmas is. He was a manof unbelievable prayer. He even prayed in...

...the most stressful circumstances. He evensaw Christ, he was even transfigured. When they looked at his face,it was shining with the radiance of the uncreated light. He saw the uncreatedlight, he was penetrated by his union with Jesus, by the divine energies, and it's shown in his face and as a result, in just amatter of these couple days, you go from us, representing the whole humanrace, standing in awe at what God has become a child in a mangerfor us, and just today, if the church brings us to today,where it's just the opposite. We're Christ in heaven is standing in awe atwhat his servants, Stephen, has become. Stephen said I saw Christ standing atthe right hand of the father, Jesus, is off his throne forhis for his servant, Stephen, his office thrown and he's standing cheering himand supporting him and glorifying him through his struggle, his martyrick struggle. Wow, this is what the fruit of Christmas is. Brothers and sisters, themother of God's life, the holy protomartyr Stephen's life. None of those qualitiesand characteristics come from the earth. They come from above, because God hasabowed Solo to grab us, heal us, save us and raise US high.And the result will you see what's...

...possible, you see what we couldbe. You know Saint Athanasius, the great, one of the greatest fathersof the church. He says that these two days, these two much,these two pictures, are the ultimate apologetic or proof that Jesus has come fromheaven, has conquered our enemies and has been raised from the dead. Hesaid, you don't need to talk about anything else. There's two things,two things that prove the reality of Christmas. Saint Athanasius left us a magnificent corpus, you know, in the forty seven years that he was patriarch ofAlexandria. Seventeen of those years the man lived in exile, five different exiles. Five Times the emperors were trying to kill him and he endured them all. He upheld the whole church. He wrote a magnificent number of treaties aboutthe fruit of Christmas and especially these two days yesterday and today, and hesaid these two things prove that mankind has been changed, that our destiny isnow different. The two things are the unspeakable virginity of the Virgin Mary andthe Marvelous Martyrdom which we see evidence in Stephen's life. Those two things,virginity and martyrdom, simply didn't exist from the fall of man until the comingof Christ. Virginity didn't exist because our whole nature's had become terribly askewed inthe fall. We became dominated by passions.

Mankind was a mock in immorality andsexual chaos, anarchy of the highest order. And yet we see inthe Virgin Mary healed humanity. We see in the Virgin Mary no tyranny oflust, no betrayals, no disgrace, no debauchery. Instead we see integrity, spiritual integrity. That evidence is San Self in her complete consecrated virginity.She was a virgin before conceiving Christ, she was a virgin while she's conceivedhim and gave birth to him, and she was an ever virgin afterwards.She maintained her chastity and purity and for this reason St Athanasia says she isthe very model both for those who will imitate her uniquely in the Christian eraby becoming monks and nuns from their youth, and those who will decide to bemarried but will live in dignity in marriage. He says, the VirginMary is the model of both for us, you know, saying Gregory the theologianit when set Athanasius died. In his funeral homily for St Athanasius,he said this man was the patron, a dual patron. He was apatron of monks and nuns and he was a patron of marriage. He wasan advocate for godliness in both states. And, he says, the VirginMary he wrote many letters to nuns. Is fact, he was the firstof all of the holy fathers to use the language for nuns, calling thembrides of Christ. He wrote several very significant letters called letters to virgins.He wrote a whole treatise on virginity.

He wrote, of course, hisfamous on the incarnation of the word, which describes the effects of Jesus's becominga man, the incarnation, on us, on humans. He wrote a veryfamous letter to a monk, a moon, about sexuality and how itwas changed into a position of integrity by the coming of Christ and since thattime, he what he said. Look, he said there is so much movementtowards the Kingdom of God, so much movement towards chastity, so manypeople becoming monks and nuns. When he was writing, he said this isitself proof the goddess become man, assumed human nature and healed it. Andno one better shows that than the Virgin Mary. If we switch from thefirst point, which is the proof of virginity, to the second, whichis our a completely new relationship to death, evidenced by martyrdom, Stevens Martyrdom,then you'll see the second proof of and fruit of the Christmas miracle,when Jesus came and brought heaven to Earth, or, as our late Patriarch Eliasthe fourth used to describe Christmas. Patriarch Elias used to said, ChristmasDay, on Christmas Day, God himself bowed down and grabbed the earth andkissed it. What an image, what an image. Since that time humanbeings joined to Christ. Know that when we die there's no more going down, there's going up, because he who was up came down to lift USup. He who was rich became poor for our sake, so that wewho are in poverty might become rich. St Paul says that's our destiny,brothers and sisters, and when you have that disposition, that changes your wholeattitude towards death. Until Christ came,...

...everyone feared death, everyone trembled atthe thought of dying, but not us. No more. The Christian disposition towardsdeath is completely opposite because of what Christ has done, because he's aopened heaven for us. You know, I was thinking how to describe itin the in the shortest way to you, and the thought came to my mindabout one of our really great martyrs. He was a doctor. It's namewas zenobious. He's commemorated on October the thirty. He was killed withhis sister Zenobia. They were very close and they loved Christ and this wasat the end of the Roman persecutions in two hundred and ninety under Emperor Diocletian, and he put them both to death. And when Zenobius was on trial,his judge said to him, I'm giving you only two choices, lifeor death, and he responded immediately. He looked at the judge and hesaid life. On this Earth without Christ is death, and death on thisEarth at your hands for Christ is life everlasting. Kill me. That isthe definition of the miracle of martyrdom, and this is how martyr dumb brothersand sisters, together with virginity and all of the ways that a new appreciationfor sexual integrity shows itself in our life. It doesn't mean seeing Athanasius, asI said, was a patron of both states. It doesn't mean thatwe're all monks and nuns. It doesn't even mean that all monks our nunsare virgins, because many monks and nuns come monks and nuns in old age, after they've been married and they lose a spouse, for instance. Buta whole new sense of purity, a...

...whole new cultivation of chastity, whichwe demonstrate by staying married, by despising divorce, by enduring, by cultivatinglove and forgiveness in our families, by being long suffering when we're on tripsand not using prostitutes, but not multiplying wives and sexual partners. We don'tdo that, brothers and sisters, because Christmas happened. Christmas happened human naturehas been joined to God and elevated and it has a tremendous effect on us. So these are the fruits of Christmas. When you see the Christmas Tree andyou think of Christ and you think of all the beautiful fruits that heproduced and that he is producing in us in our life, remember especially thesetwo, especially when we're our culture is so afraid, how desperately this culturethat's so afraid of death and of a virus, needs to hear the Christmasmessage over and over again, to be comforted and driven into the arms ofJesus, who loves us, to have an answer for the threat of death. And remember, too, as our culture is returning to sub pagan formsof sexual chaos, remember Christmas happened. We can live in dignity. Werecalled to live in dignity as people who have been joined to God, andthen we can become like the virgin and we can become like St Stephen.Our destiny, Jesus says, is to shine, also to shine with theradiance of God and the Kingdom of his father, Christ is born. Wehope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to youby Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization...

...committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty withthe sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other availabletitles or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visitour website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dotpatristic nectar dot org.

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