The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

Do Not Let Go of the Altar

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Sunday of the Myrrhbearers. Learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications.

Ancient Faith Radio and patristic nectar publicationspresent the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah trenor. For hebeheld the divine cross as a bright, flashing trophy. With it was seevictorious over all who opposed him, and he destroyed the deceit and error ofall the idols, while making strong throughout the World Orthodox faith and practice.First of Christian kings, since the king of all created things foresaw thy goodnessof heart and THY ready obedience. He, through reason, captured thee when unreasonedruled over Thee, and, having made thee to shine in heart andmind, with a certain knowledge of godly piety, he showed thee to theworld as a shining sun that sendeth forth the beams of all Godly deeds,wise and glorious constanty. What you have just heard are sound bites from someof the lectures in an eight part lecture series entitled God's Statesmen, Pious Christiankings. patristic nectar publications invites you to download the first of these eight lectureshere at ancient faith radio. For more information and the remaining lectures, pleasevisit our website at w w w you dot patristic nectar dot org, andnow here's father Josiah Trenam with the Sunday promily in the name of the fatherand of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Christ isrisen. Brothers and sisters, are destiny as upward. We are a peoplewho are moving from the Earth to heaven and into the Kingdom of God,and we need to hear the words that were spoken to the murdering women bythe Angel Today. For us, why do you seek him among the dead, who dwells in light immortal? Why do you seek the living amongst thedead? Brothers and sisters, are movement upward means for us that we haveto stop looking for life in all the wrong places. We have to stopmessing in the realms of death and with people who are themselves dead and thenwondering why we're not flowing over with possible joy. You know, the descriptionof the fathers of the movement to the Kingdom of Heaven is a ladder,the climbing of a ladder, and thinking about think with me about how youdo that. The first movement to go up a ladder, if to liftyour foot off the earth. This is...

...step number one. This is asign and a symbol for us and our own movement to heaven. We haveto remove ourselves from the realm of death and from death dealing carnal desires,as we call them in the presanctified liturgy. We can't be with those things andwonder why we're not feeling well, wonder why we're depressed, wonder whywe're weighed down. I've seen far too many tears these first two weeks afterPASCA. They ought not be here. The contradiction between the celebration of Jesus'sResurrection and the sadness is that we bear. PASCA is not one day. It'snot God's will for us just to have a few hours of happiness.No, the Lord wants the reality of the resurrection pressed into us so thatit becomes normative, determinative of how we live, so that we actually livea resurrected life. Saint Paul calls it walking in newness of life. Wehave to lift our foot up off the earth and remove ourselves from those thingswhich produce awful things, since in darkness, and then we have to put iton the wrong this is the opposite of the coin. This means strivingfor a heavenly life, striving for that way of life, those virtues thatcharacterize resurrected linning. This twofold process to move forward is described in that beautifulfirst psalm about the blessed man who was Christ himself. Blessed is the manwho does not walk and the counsel of the wicked, nor stand what'scoffers,nor sit in the seat of the wicked. But that's that's the removing his footfrom the earth doesn't have anything to do with those people. He won'tsit down and talk with them, he won't walk with them on the wayand he certainly isn't going to associate with them. His delight, it says, is in the law of the Lord and in his law. He meditatesday and night and he will be like a tree planted by the streams ofwater which bears its fruit in its season. Whatever he does prospers. That's abeautiful life. It's the life of those who say no to death dealingthings and yes to the acquisition, to the studied acquisition of the heavenly resurrectedlife, to the commandments of the Lord, to his sacred law which brings us, by His grace, to everlasting life. This is what we haveto do. This morning, I want to call to your mind one aspectof that heavenly life, of that resurrected life, of that newness of andthis is our our reality, of living...

...in mutual care and assistance of oneanother. This is one of the virtues that Christians pursue as an expression ofbeing above death. We help each other, we assist each other, we lookout for each other, we endure each other, we protect each other, we encourage each other, we listen to each other, we sympathize witheach other, we visit each other, we rejoice in each other, welend to each other, we forgive each other, we correct each other,we work with each other and we strive on the narrow road to the kingdomwith each other. This is the characteristic of resurrected life and it is agreat obstacle to the secular world, where we live in community less islands ofindividuals. That way of life and our way of life do not Mesh.We're like an army. No soldier is happy simply by the fact that he'snot dead. If his comrades around him are all bleeding. He's not happy, and the best of the forces have that saying. No Man is leftbehind, wounded or not. The church is no different. The church isthe Army of the Lord Christ and we're in this together. For good orfor ill, we're in this together. There is no individualism. We're abody. Have you ever seen a body in which the arm is happy butthe leg is bleeding and broken? Believe me, if you have one portionof your body that is in particular pain, you're not a happy camper. Thewhole body is sorrowful. This is how we live. It's not enoughfor us and our own stuff to be fine, for the body to befine. The whole body must be fine. Saint Anthony The great describes it thisway. He says our life and our death depend on our neighbor.If we gain our brother, we gain God. If we scandalize our brother, we sin against Christ. Sat Silauan says that this way. He saysmy brother is my life. Think of...

...the opposite. The opposite is theevil, murderous Caine, who slew his brother and then, when after abouthis whereabouts, said am I my brother's keeper? The answer is yes,you are, but you didn't do that. You slew him. This is ourlife, brothers and sisters. Saint Paul sums it up beautifully in hisfirst epistle to the Corinthians. He says all things are lawful, but notall things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edifyor build up. Let no one seek his own good but that of hisneighbor. The freedom that the Lord has given us by the resurrection is notto be used by off just because we can. We exercise our freedom asChristians based upon what it dove to our neighbor, to our brother, oursister. Doesn't build up. And if it doesn't build up, though itmight be lawful for us, we refrain because we would rather deny ourselves theexpression of our freedom than in any way to detract from or hurt or injureour brother or sister, because the fundamental coursing of our heart is the benefitof our neighbor, the good of the whole church. And so I'm encouragingyou to resolve in this Pascal tide, these fifty days between Pasca and pentecost, when we don't kneel, when we celebrate the Resurrection, I'm encouraging youto jump in. Last week I spoke about the difference between diving gladness anddivine gladness. Let's together seek divine gladness and not let it dive and turninto sins and tears. During the days of Pasca, I was thinking ofhow to encourage you some practical things to do this. We're often left,those of you who are sincerely trying to increase you're rejoicing and increase your heavenlyaspirations, are always wondering how can I do it? What should I do? And I hear this question a lot and I thought of this beautiful story. It's a story that took place in the life of St John Chrysostom justafter he had become bishop in Constantinople. Remember, he had been kidnapped asa priest. After twelve years as the as the main prist Dominos of thecathedral and Antioch, he been captured, he had been taken to Constantinople,he had been made bishop and very shortly after that had happened, most ofthat was the work of the Chancellor of the main civic authority under the emperor, and his name was if Tropius if Tropius was a very crafty man andhe had heard about John and he convinced Emperor Arcadius to get John, thathe would be appropriate for the cathedral in Constantinople. Well, very shortly afterJohn arrived in Constantinople, fthropists craftiness got the best of him and he fellout with the emperor so badly that the...

...emperor sent his men to arrest himand execute him. So what did he do? He fled to the church. He came to the Church and he met St John There and St Johngave him refuge and hid him in the Holy Altar. You might not knowthis, but we have a little secret place to hide people here too.I'm not joking. We had a specially built just in case it ever wouldcome to be used. So if you know someone who needs help, youknow what to send them. This was the common tradition of Christian civilization isthat the church was a safe house. It was a place where those whohad made big crimes and mistakes could come and not be arrefted. No soldierswere allowed to enter into the church. As long as the person stayed inthe church, they were guaranteed safety. That's a very important point at least. If they wanted to give themselves up eventually, it would only be afterthey had come to their senses, they had been reconciled to God, theyhad been able to speak with the priest, to make confession be established back inthe community of the church. And then if they wanted to leave thechurch and be arrested and suffer their faith, that was up to them, butit guarantee that they would have the time to do those important things.If tropius showed up and John took him in. Now, John took himin very graciously because there was a great irony about a Tropius's arrival. Inbetween the time that he brought John to Constantinople and the time that he fellout with the emperor, he had been working for a change of some lawsand he affected a number of changes. Guess what law he changed? Hethought the Church had too much power, so he eliminated the law of refuge. He got the emperor to strike down the ability for a criminal to takerefuge, and then there he was. St John Chrysostom, being the everwatchful past, thought this was a wonderful irony, and so, as hehit him in the altar. On one occasion, in the middle of hishomily, he walked up to the altar, which was built on magnificent pillars ormagnificent pillars, and it had curtains hung on the four sides of thepillars and underneath was enough room to hide someone. This is where he washiding if Tropius during the liturgy. So St John Thought he would make apoint and as he was preaching, he worked his way back to the altarand then he began to talk about how we should always support the church andnever work against her, as some do, and he pulled the curtain back andrevealed ef Tropius. If tropius remained in the safety of the church fora long time, but he grew weary of the altar of the Lord andhe left, attempting to sneak out of the church to save his life,he was captured and beheaded, a sorrowful...

...conclusion for him. St John delivereda homily after the death of Atropius and he said this and he applied itto the people of God. If you want to live in life and youwant to avoid death, don't let go of the altar. And, brothersand sisters, it's not just for criminals who hide there, for all ofus. You want to live a resurrected life, you want to know deepjoy that all enables you not to be bound by the things that Jesus himselfhas defeated. Don't let go of the altar. Keep yourself close to her, to the worship of the church. Don't allow your heart to wander away. Live like David, who said one day in God's house is better thanone thousand outside. This is what he said. You know the very wordchurch, brothers and sisters Ecclesia. The word is a call. The wordmeans the gathered assembly. When we say church, what we mean is thepeople who come together. This is what we are. It nullifies this ideaof individualiftic spirituality. We would never say, as an Orthodox, well, Idon't have to go to church today because I can pray just find inmy house. No, you can't. Sorry, you do pray in yourhomes, but your prayer in your home is nothing like the prayer in thechurch, combined with the angels and Saints, with your brothers and sisters and withthe priests and clergy leading you. This is the prayer that counts andthat animates your prayer at home. When you hear those beautiful bells, thinkof how they encourage you to run to the church. This is their beautifulcalling. When you begin to hear them ring, they're saying come, brothersand sisters, actualize what you are, be what you have been fashioned tobe by Christ, a gathered community around the altar, the portal of God, the presence of the Kingdom on the earth. You know, this ismy consolation, brothers and sisters, is when I see the church full,when I see the people of God coming to pray. This is what makesme feel strong, and it works vice versa. If I see the Churchand I wonder where folks are and I don't see them, I feel weak, I feel unable to do much, I feel like the the the devil'swinning. I have a vision. I have a vision for our church.We're about fifty percent there. I see campus that continues to grow and tomultiply its goodness. That includes a Christian...

Education Center, a Paris School,a wonderful bookstore and coffee shop that will serve as an information center to directfolk where they need to go. As a church to or starting place.I imagine lots of on site ministries. I imagine the community coming here alot to hold functions and to interact. I imagine our neighborhood including more andmore parishioners, and this is slowly taking shape right now. More and morefolks trying to find a way that they could plant their families near the Churchtemple. I imagine a liturgical life that is fuller. Compared to some churches. We would can be considered having a full of turgical life right now,but compared to others, we have lots of room to grow. I imaginethe multiplication of competent chanters and choir singers. This is taking place under our nosesright now. You've seen our young people, haven't you? Teenagers whoare learning to chant and to sing in the choir. What do you thinkthey're going to be doing in ten years? They're going to be leading services themselves. I imagine more priests and deacons. I imagine a daily Liturgy and vespersevery day of the week, where a visit to the church is apart of most of our parishioners day. The to candle, to hear Godas the Lord chanted as faith and piety grows, church centeredness grows, carefor the community grows, service grows, because the face of Christ becomes manifestin us. But this is what I'm encouraging you with. Just as youinvested yourself and lent to cultivate repentance, take possible tide as seriously as youdid lent. Is it any less serious the call of the Church? Doesshe offer less services? Know, she offers so many beautiful services in possibletide, so that the truths that we so easily forget, which lead usto our depression, so that those truths can be impreft within us, sothat we can meditate upon the fact that our great enemies have been conquered.You know, today I was hearing some confessions and one of our beloved cheaphold me father. I didn't react so well when things went wrong, andafterwards I said, nothing has gone wrong, nothing, absolutely nothing has gone wrong. Whatever the thing, the little things in our life that have gonewrong in the last two weeks, they are nothing, unimportant, minor obstaclesbetween you and what is going to make you most happy forever, which isthe Kingdom of God. They have all...

...been conquered, they're all under oursaviors feet. There's nothing that is going wrong, brothers and sisters, ultimatelybecause of what Christ has done. Having that mind only comes through a carefulcultivation of the resurrection, through a meditation upon the Cross and the resurrection ofour Savior. It doesn't just descend upon you like some charismatic experience, anymore than repentance just appears. Repentance comes from a meditation upon your sins,does it not? Joy Comes from a meditation upon Jesus's victory. So usethese days. Use these days so that you can walk and newness of lifeand live the resurrected life. And, whatever you do, do not letgo of the Holy Table Christ is risen. We hope that you have enjoyed andhave been edified by this presentation offer to you by Patristic Nectar Publications,a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing this spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of theHoly Fathers. Until next time,.

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