The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 10 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 publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah trenor. For he beheld the divine cross as a bright, flashing trophy. With it was see victorious over all who opposed him, and he destroyed the deceit and error of all 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 goodness of heart and THY ready obedience. He, through reason, captured thee when unreasoned ruled over Thee, and, having made thee to shine in heart and mind, with a certain knowledge of godly piety, he showed thee to the world 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 some of the lectures in an eight part lecture series entitled God's Statesmen, Pious Christian kings. patristic nectar publications invites you to download the first of these eight lectures here at ancient faith radio. For more information and the remaining lectures, please visit our website at w w w you dot patristic nectar dot org, and now here's father Josiah Trenam with the Sunday promily in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God, Christ is risen. Brothers and sisters, are destiny as upward. We are a people who 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 by the Angel Today. For us, why do you seek him among the dead, who dwells in light immortal? Why do you seek the living amongst the dead? Brothers and sisters, are movement upward means for us that we have to stop looking for life in all the wrong places. We have to stop messing in the realms of death and with people who are themselves dead and then wondering why we're not flowing over with possible joy. You know, the description of 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 you do that. The first movement to go up a ladder, if to lift your foot off the earth. This is...

...step number one. This is a sign and a symbol for us and our own movement to heaven. We have to 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 and wonder why we're not feeling well, wonder why we're depressed, wonder why we're weighed down. I've seen far too many tears these first two weeks after PASCA. They ought not be here. The contradiction between the celebration of Jesus's Resurrection and the sadness is that we bear. PASCA is not one day. It's not 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 that it becomes normative, determinative of how we live, so that we actually live a resurrected life. Saint Paul calls it walking in newness of life. We have to lift our foot up off the earth and remove ourselves from those things which produce awful things, since in darkness, and then we have to put it on the wrong this is the opposite of the coin. This means striving for a heavenly life, striving for that way of life, those virtues that characterize resurrected linning. This twofold process to move forward is described in that beautiful first psalm about the blessed man who was Christ himself. Blessed is the man who 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 foot from the earth doesn't have anything to do with those people. He won't sit down and talk with them, he won't walk with them on the way and 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 meditates day and night and he will be like a tree planted by the streams of water which bears its fruit in its season. Whatever he does prospers. That's a beautiful life. It's the life of those who say no to death dealing things and yes to the acquisition, to the studied acquisition of the heavenly resurrected life, to the commandments of the Lord, to his sacred law which brings us, by His grace, to everlasting life. This is what we have to do. This morning, I want to call to your mind one aspect of that heavenly life, of that resurrected life, of that newness of and this is our our reality, of living...

...in mutual care and assistance of one another. This is one of the virtues that Christians pursue as an expression of being above death. We help each other, we assist each other, we look out for each other, we endure each other, we protect each other, we encourage each other, we listen to each other, we sympathize with each other, we visit each other, we rejoice in each other, we lend 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 kingdom with each other. This is the characteristic of resurrected life and it is a great obstacle to the secular world, where we live in community less islands of individuals. 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's not 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 left behind, wounded or not. The church is no different. The church is the Army of the Lord Christ and we're in this together. For good or for ill, we're in this together. There is no individualism. We're a body. Have you ever seen a body in which the arm is happy but the leg is bleeding and broken? Believe me, if you have one portion of your body that is in particular pain, you're not a happy camper. The whole body is sorrowful. This is how we live. It's not enough for us and our own stuff to be fine, for the body to be fine. The whole body must be fine. Saint Anthony The great describes it this way. 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 says my brother is my life. Think of...

...the opposite. The opposite is the evil, murderous Caine, who slew his brother and then, when after about his 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 our life, brothers and sisters. Saint Paul sums it up beautifully in his first epistle to the Corinthians. He says all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify or build up. Let no one seek his own good but that of his neighbor. The freedom that the Lord has given us by the resurrection is not to be used by off just because we can. We exercise our freedom as Christians based upon what it dove to our neighbor, to our brother, our sister. Doesn't build up. And if it doesn't build up, though it might be lawful for us, we refrain because we would rather deny ourselves the expression of our freedom than in any way to detract from or hurt or injure our brother or sister, because the fundamental coursing of our heart is the benefit of our neighbor, the good of the whole church. And so I'm encouraging you 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 you to jump in. Last week I spoke about the difference between diving gladness and divine gladness. Let's together seek divine gladness and not let it dive and turn into sins and tears. During the days of Pasca, I was thinking of how 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 heavenly aspirations, 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 just after he had become bishop in Constantinople. Remember, he had been kidnapped as a priest. After twelve years as the as the main prist Dominos of the cathedral and Antioch, he been captured, he had been taken to Constantinople, he had been made bishop and very shortly after that had happened, most of that 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 and he had heard about John and he convinced Emperor Arcadius to get John, that he would be appropriate for the cathedral in Constantinople. Well, very shortly after John arrived in Constantinople, fthropists craftiness got the best of him and he fell out with the emperor so badly that the...

...emperor sent his men to arrest him and 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 John gave him refuge and hid him in the Holy Altar. You might not know this, 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 would come to be used. So if you know someone who needs help, you know what to send them. This was the common tradition of Christian civilization is that the church was a safe house. It was a place where those who had made big crimes and mistakes could come and not be arrefted. No soldiers were allowed to enter into the church. As long as the person stayed in the 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 after they had come to their senses, they had been reconciled to God, they had been able to speak with the priest, to make confession be established back in the community of the church. And then if they wanted to leave the church and be arrested and suffer their faith, that was up to them, but it guarantee that they would have the time to do those important things. If tropius showed up and John took him in. Now, John took him in very graciously because there was a great irony about a Tropius's arrival. In between the time that he brought John to Constantinople and the time that he fell out with the emperor, he had been working for a change of some laws and he affected a number of changes. Guess what law he changed? He thought 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 take refuge, and then there he was. St John Chrysostom, being the ever watchful past, thought this was a wonderful irony, and so, as he hit him in the altar. On one occasion, in the middle of his homily, he walked up to the altar, which was built on magnificent pillars or magnificent pillars, and it had curtains hung on the four sides of the pillars and underneath was enough room to hide someone. This is where he was hiding if Tropius during the liturgy. So St John Thought he would make a point and as he was preaching, he worked his way back to the altar and then he began to talk about how we should always support the church and never work against her, as some do, and he pulled the curtain back and revealed ef Tropius. If tropius remained in the safety of the church for a long time, but he grew weary of the altar of the Lord and he left, attempting to sneak out of the church to save his life, he was captured and beheaded, a sorrowful...

...conclusion for him. St John delivered a homily after the death of Atropius and he said this and he applied it to the people of God. If you want to live in life and you want to avoid death, don't let go of the altar. And, brothers and sisters, it's not just for criminals who hide there, for all of us. You want to live a resurrected life, you want to know deep joy that all enables you not to be bound by the things that Jesus himself has 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 than one thousand outside. This is what he said. You know the very word church, brothers and sisters Ecclesia. The word is a call. The word means the gathered assembly. When we say church, what we mean is the people who come together. This is what we are. It nullifies this idea of individualiftic spirituality. We would never say, as an Orthodox, well, I don't have to go to church today because I can pray just find in my house. No, you can't. Sorry, you do pray in your homes, but your prayer in your home is nothing like the prayer in the church, combined with the angels and Saints, with your brothers and sisters and with the priests and clergy leading you. This is the prayer that counts and that animates your prayer at home. When you hear those beautiful bells, think of how they encourage you to run to the church. This is their beautiful calling. When you begin to hear them ring, they're saying come, brothers and sisters, actualize what you are, be what you have been fashioned to be by Christ, a gathered community around the altar, the portal of God, the presence of the Kingdom on the earth. You know, this is my consolation, brothers and sisters, is when I see the church full, when I see the people of God coming to pray. This is what makes me feel strong, and it works vice versa. If I see the Church and 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's winning. 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 to multiply 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 direct folk 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 a lot to hold functions and to interact. I imagine our neighborhood including more and more parishioners, and this is slowly taking shape right now. More and more folks trying to find a way that they could plant their families near the Church temple. 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 imagine the multiplication of competent chanters and choir singers. This is taking place under our noses right now. You've seen our young people, haven't you? Teenagers who are learning to chant and to sing in the choir. What do you think they'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 vespers every day of the week, where a visit to the church is a part of most of our parishioners day. The to candle, to hear God as the Lord chanted as faith and piety grows, church centeredness grows, care for the community grows, service grows, because the face of Christ becomes manifest in us. But this is what I'm encouraging you with. Just as you invested yourself and lent to cultivate repentance, take possible tide as seriously as you did lent. Is it any less serious the call of the Church? Does she offer less services? Know, she offers so many beautiful services in possible tide, so that the truths that we so easily forget, which lead us to our depression, so that those truths can be impreft within us, so that 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 cheap hold me father. I didn't react so well when things went wrong, and afterwards I said, nothing has gone wrong, nothing, absolutely nothing has gone wrong. Whatever the thing, the little things in our life that have gone wrong in the last two weeks, they are nothing, unimportant, minor obstacles between you and what is going to make you most happy forever, which is the Kingdom of God. They have all...

...been conquered, they're all under our saviors feet. There's nothing that is going wrong, brothers and sisters, ultimately because of what Christ has done. Having that mind only comes through a careful cultivation of the resurrection, through a meditation upon the Cross and the resurrection of our Savior. It doesn't just descend upon you like some charismatic experience, any more 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 use these days. Use these days so that you can walk and newness of life and live the resurrected life. And, whatever you do, do not let go of the Holy Table Christ is risen. We hope that you have enjoyed and have 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 the Holy Fathers. Until next time,.

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