The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 2 years 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 works in the salvation of the Christian the nature of virtues and vices and the traditional means for cultivating virtue in the Christian life. Saint John of Damascus, in his text on the virtues and the vices in the Philocalia, writes that every man is said to be made in the likeness of God as regards his imitation of God through virtues God like actions. The study and cultivation of virtue is the 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 of Wisdom, Lecture Four, the cardinal virtue of courage, Lecture Five, the cardinal virtue of temperance. Lecture six, conquering the seven deadly sins. Lecture seven, after God, the failure of the secular ethic. For these and 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 and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, Christ is born Mary Christmas. Brothers and sisters, on the third day. I hope that your hearts are filled with the joy of the great feast of Christmas and that you'll keep your mind and your heart affixed to the celebration of the Nativity during all the days of Christmas. That's why we have holy days. That's why we don't just celebrate the day one day and then forget about it. We keep it going 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 new contributions to the glorification of our feast. The first is our magnificent New Nativity icon, which I hope you are all able to venerate when you came into the NARTHEX. I just stand in amazement looking at that magnificent icon, and the 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 had some help from the men, not very many of us, but they had a little bit of help. The ladies just brought us to a greater state of a beauty and decoration outside, with all the magnificent decorations just welcoming us here. Brothers and sisters, I want to speak a little bit about the meaning 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 is the man who doesn't walk on the Council of the wicked right, but his meditation is in the Law of the Lord.

Day In night, he meditates upon the law of the Lord and he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf never withers, and whatever he does, he prospers. This is the beginning of the PSALTER of our wisdom, literature, and it finds its fulfillment. The tree is a picture of Christ and particularly the Christmas tree with the Bethlehem Star on Top, with all the magnificent fruits hanging from the branches. When you 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 much fruit. If I had to entitle this homily, I think I would entitle it Nativity and its fruits. How does Christmas change our lives? You know, yesterday we celebrated this synaxis of the mother of God, which is always the day after Christmas. Interestingly, it's the oldest of all the feasts of funny 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 as the the potentiality she shows us the potentiality of human life. As a result of 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's potent, the potential for us, the Virgin and today, brothers and sisters, the twenty seven. That picture is complete by the Church by honoring this man, the Holy Proto Martyr,...

...and Archdeacon Stephen, the first martyr offered to Christ. These two the mother of God. Yesterday and today, the Holy Proto Martyr and Archdeacon Stephen, provide for us a picture of what has happened to us because of Christmas, definitively how the human race has been changed and therefore, how we're being changed. What were becoming like, what our future is as people. You see in the Virgin Mary, of course, the radiant virtues humility, Christian humility, obedience, faith. You see in Saint Stephen's life, as you just heard. You heard in Saint Stephen's life 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 the stones 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 a man who have chosen by the church in Jerusalem to be the chief of the deacons because his life had become, as a result of his union with Christ, the very definition of almsgiving. He lived to serve people, he lived to help people in need, and so he was put in charge of the feeding of the three thousand widows, the thousands of those that were there that needed 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 man of unbelievable prayer. He even prayed in...

...the most stressful circumstances. He even saw Christ, he was even transfigured. When they looked at his face, it was shining with the radiance of the uncreated light. He saw the uncreated light, 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 a matter of these couple days, you go from us, representing the whole human race, standing in awe at what God has become a child in a manger for 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 at what his servants, Stephen, has become. Stephen said I saw Christ standing at the right hand of the father, Jesus, is off his throne for his for his servant, Stephen, his office thrown and he's standing cheering him and supporting him and glorifying him through his struggle, his martyrick struggle. Wow, this is what the fruit of Christmas is. Brothers and sisters, the mother of God's life, the holy protomartyr Stephen's life. None of those qualities and characteristics come from the earth. They come from above, because God has abowed 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 could be. You know Saint Athanasius, the great, one of the greatest fathers of the church. He says that these two days, these two much, these two pictures, are the ultimate apologetic or proof that Jesus has come from heaven, has conquered our enemies and has been raised from the dead. He said, 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 of Alexandria. 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 about the fruit of Christmas and especially these two days yesterday and today, and he said these two things prove that mankind has been changed, that our destiny is now different. The two things are the unspeakable virginity of the Virgin Mary and the 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 coming of Christ. Virginity didn't exist because our whole nature's had become terribly askewed in the fall. We became dominated by passions.

Mankind was a mock in immorality and sexual chaos, anarchy of the highest order. And yet we see in the Virgin Mary healed humanity. We see in the Virgin Mary no tyranny of lust, 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 conceived him 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 is the very model both for those who will imitate her uniquely in the Christian era by becoming monks and nuns from their youth, and those who will decide to be married but will live in dignity in marriage. He says, the Virgin Mary is the model of both for us, you know, saying Gregory the theologian it when set Athanasius died. In his funeral homily for St Athanasius, he said this man was the patron, a dual patron. He was a patron of monks and nuns and he was a patron of marriage. He was an advocate for godliness in both states. And, he says, the Virgin Mary he wrote many letters to nuns. Is fact, he was the first of all of the holy fathers to use the language for nuns, calling them brides of Christ. He wrote several very significant letters called letters to virgins. He wrote a whole treatise on virginity.

He wrote, of course, his famous on the incarnation of the word, which describes the effects of Jesus's becoming a man, the incarnation, on us, on humans. He wrote a very famous letter to a monk, a moon, about sexuality and how it was changed into a position of integrity by the coming of Christ and since that time, he what he said. Look, he said there is so much movement towards the Kingdom of God, so much movement towards chastity, so many people becoming monks and nuns. When he was writing, he said this is itself proof the goddess become man, assumed human nature and healed it. And no one better shows that than the Virgin Mary. If we switch from the first point, which is the proof of virginity, to the second, which is 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 Elias the fourth used to describe Christmas. Patriarch Elias used to said, Christmas Day, on Christmas Day, God himself bowed down and grabbed the earth and kissed it. What an image, what an image. Since that time human beings 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 US up. He who was rich became poor for our sake, so that we who 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 whole attitude towards death. Until Christ came,...

...everyone feared death, everyone trembled at the thought of dying, but not us. No more. The Christian disposition towards death is completely opposite because of what Christ has done, because he's a opened heaven for us. You know, I was thinking how to describe it in the in the shortest way to you, and the thought came to my mind about one of our really great martyrs. He was a doctor. It's name was zenobious. He's commemorated on October the thirty. He was killed with his sister Zenobia. They were very close and they loved Christ and this was at 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, life or death, and he responded immediately. He looked at the judge and he said life. On this Earth without Christ is death, and death on this Earth at your hands for Christ is life everlasting. Kill me. That is the definition of the miracle of martyrdom, and this is how martyr dumb brothers and sisters, together with virginity and all of the ways that a new appreciation for sexual integrity shows itself in our life. It doesn't mean seeing Athanasius, as I said, was a patron of both states. It doesn't mean that we're all monks and nuns. It doesn't even mean that all monks our nuns are 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. But a whole new sense of purity, a...

...whole new cultivation of chastity, which we demonstrate by staying married, by despising divorce, by enduring, by cultivating love and forgiveness in our families, by being long suffering when we're on trips and not using prostitutes, but not multiplying wives and sexual partners. We don't do that, brothers and sisters, because Christmas happened. Christmas happened human nature has 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 and you think of Christ and you think of all the beautiful fruits that he produced and that he is producing in us in our life, remember especially these two, especially when we're our culture is so afraid, how desperately this culture that's so afraid of death and of a virus, needs to hear the Christmas message over and over again, to be comforted and driven into the arms of Jesus, who loves us, to have an answer for the threat of death. And remember, too, as our culture is returning to sub pagan forms of sexual chaos, remember Christmas happened. We can live in dignity. Were called to live in dignity as people who have been joined to God, and then we can become like the virgin and we can become like St Stephen. Our destiny, Jesus says, is to shine, also to shine with the radiance of God and the Kingdom of his father, Christ is born. 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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