The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 11 months ago

Orthodoxy in Vain


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Now available at patristic nectar,Dodorg patristic, nectar, pulications ispleased to present a new five lecture series entitled Contemporary Women,Saints Saint John of Synite in his ladder ofdivine assent, rites that the lives of the saints arouse us to emulation oftheir courage and lead us to the virtue of humility and compunction. Contemporary Saints are particularlyimportant since they acquired their love for God and holiness in the midstof our current Milyeu, and demonstrate that spiritual acquisition is possibleeven in our own troubled times. The five lectures are as follows: Lecture Number One: The life of SaintZenia of Saint Petersburg; lecture number: Two: The life of SaintElizabeth, the new martyr lecture number; three, the life of Saint Mariaof Paris; Lecture Number; Four: The life of Saint Matrona of Moscow; Lecture Number; Five; the lives ofmother, Maria of Oinette, scemennon Macaria, the beloved, suffer andMatushka Oga of Alaska. For these and other available titles,queese visit our website at patristic, nectur Godorg and now the Orena, with Father JessiahTrenna, the name of the father and of the sonand of the Holy Spirit. Last week, I expressed appreciation for all of ourparishioners who are outside and next door and have been for these very longmonths and months and months. I also think God, besides thanking them for their theirbeautiful example of endurance. I also think God for the beautiful weatherthat he's given us. Hopefully that will be a small reprieve and anencouragement to those who are praying and trying to concentrate on prayeroutside of the House of God. It's a very sad position to be in usually those who are outside are thelowest form of Penitence who are allowed to come into the church. We've been living this way for so long. I was thinking this morning as that was meditating again on how many of ourprisioners would be outside that think of our brothers and sisters in times pass. I remember the firsttime I ever visited the magnificent basilicate Church of the great march ofDemetrius Andteseleniki Greese, one of our oldest and most beautiful churches.I think that church itself is built from the fourth century and it's builton top of a Christian Altar in the catacombs inthe ancient Roman catacomb. So you can go behind the altar and then down intothe place where, on the same topography, we prayed in the first century when it would have been considered bybelievers. Tho have been a great luxury to have a church at all, let alone tobe able to stand outside of the church. Those days we prayed in secret. Thinkof the challenge of those days. Some of the parishioners kept the sacred texts in their homesillegally and secretly, and they would bring them to church. Otherparishioners would bring the candlesticks and they kept those athome. Others would have the the discuss someone else, the Chalis, someone elsewould bring the wine, and this is how...

...we lived, and this is the condition in which the churchtriumphed over Roman paganism, no matter what in any circumstance,never to abandon the suffer of God, never to abandon theUCRIS and the gathering together of the Faithful. This is tha the core of ourreality. So this week we had a signal victory in law, thank God, thank God. Finally, aretyrannical governors, oppression of Christian churches, hisdisregard of the importance of worship, public worship was dealt a very seriousblow this week by the Supreme Court, and so his order, which still stands,or I should rather say, still stood until a few days ago- forbidding allworship inside of the churches. It has been overthrown, thank God, thank God.It's just done just done by a sixty three ruling, a bar supreme court. Ofcourse, that's a that's a small consolation. It's a nice thought to think. If weever went through something like this again, let's all make the cross- Godforbid- God forbid. If we ever went against throughsomething like this again in the near future, we would be able to avoid thetremendous sorrow that that order has caused believers all throughout ourstate. I'm very thankful for that brothers and sisters. The epistol andthe Gospel today are very challenging texts and they share a common theme before I address that common theme, I want to share with you a smallportion of the gospel of Matthew, which I have always found fascinating. It's agood entre into a discussion of the epistle test today, t what that I wantto make. It comes in the twelvte chapter of Saint Matthew's Gospel andit's a very, very fasceting and strange text where matthew records. The LordJesus saying the context. I should tell you the context before I tel you, theversus the context of that Jesus has been performing many many exorcisms castingout demons from many people, delivering them from the sicknesses that thosedemons had effected in these people's lives and the Pharisees were growing very agitated, because jusus ispopularity as the deliverer from death and from evil and from the tyranny ofthe devil was growing immensely. So they made an incredible accusationagainst him. They said that he only had power. Our Savior only had power overthese devils. He was only so free to cast them here and there at a mere word,because he was in fact their master being te Elsable, the chief devilhimself. Oh the depth to which pride makes ourminds go. Jesus simply said to them. If that'sthe case- and we know that a house dividedagainst itself cannot stand, why would Satan cast out Satan? Why would the chief devil be destroyingthe work of his minions and then he tells this that's the background, and then he tells the story. He saysthat a devil was cast out of a man and it went into the desert seeking...

...a place for rest itself and it found none. It's a facinating strange comment about what a particulardevil would do being cast out of a person finding no place for rest. It gathers seven other devils and itcomes back to its original house, meaning the person that it hadinhabited before and it finds it clean and swept but unoccupied, and so it takes these seven devils andreenters that House that person and the worst the last state of the man isworse than the first. He thought hi had it bad when he had one devil in him,and Jesus had to deliver him now. The man ends up with many devils in him.What is that all about? What does it mean to be clean butunoccupied? I think the answer can be seen in today's texts and theEpistle and in the Gospel it's possible to be freed from the devils to be freed from a life of slavery toSatan, as Saint Faul describes our life before we were Christians. We were heldcaptive by him to do his will Paul says it's possible to become freed, to haveour allegiance to evil broken, but not to replace it with another appropriate gloriousallegiance to Christ and then to end up in a very vulnerableposition where we could possibly be reinfested and end up worse than we ever were. Oh rather scary, rather scary. pixt. Have that in your mind, when you hearthe first word of the epistoessen brethren, I beseech you not to receivethe grace of God in vain. That's how sit Paul started the texttoday brethren. I beseech you not to receivethe grace of God in vain and then keep that text also in mind that I mentionedearlier when you're thinking about the Gospellesson, where Jesus describes himself as a man distributing talents, and he gave this many to one and thismany to another, and this many to a third and then they were expected to go outand use those talents and Tho return a profit and when the giver of those talentscame back, two of the thirty had produced a harvest. Two had investedtheir talents, two had taken what God had given them and actually used it andhad something to offer him at the day of reckoning. But one didnothing. One was unoccupied. One had received the grace of God invain, he had been given it and he did absolutely nothing with it. The theme today in these lessons is vain orthodoxy, Tey northodoxy and its a common beseeching. The Lord and sintfall a common beseeching of us to make sure that we aren't like the person whohas been delivered...

...and has not replaced an allegiance toevil with allegiance to God. We have had the evil cast out, but haven't opened our hearts and areinnerselves to be filled with a new allegiance so that when that nastydemon comes back, it finds our house full to the Brim, with the grace of Godoverflowing with the presence of the Holy Spirit. That's the normal state ofa Christian. That's for us. What does it mean? What's the difference between those whoreceive the grace of God unto salvation and those who receive the grace of Godin vain? First notice, the description we arerecipients of the grace of God. We believers have been given thegreatest gift, God's very life, his presence, his energy. This is our.This is our inheritance. What we do with it is up to our freedom. God is the beginning of our salvation.He sustains our salvation. He completes our salvation, but he doesn't do itwithout our co operation. He respects our freedom if it didn't involve our freedom. Ifthe grace of God came to us and just the presence of grace ensured that wewere going to be saved like some Christians teach, then there would beno emphasis upon receiving it in vein at all because it couldn't be receivedin vain. If it all ways triumphs. Unfortunately, the grace of God doesnot always tri him in people's lives, because the Lord respects our freedom.He expects us to cooperate with him to Labor with him to invest our talents to use the energy that he'sgiven us to serve him. What's the difference between those who Ripa Harvest untosalvation gracees come and those for whom it's in vain there's. I think a very simple way to understandthis, and it's explained by a passage in the apocalypse that I really love.You know that at the beginning of the revelation, Jesus appears to HisServant, the Apostle John, and he gives him seven letters. He dictates sevenletters to give to local churches in Asia Minor, where John had had anapostolic presence. The first of those letters is to the most powerful of altl, thechurches in Asia minor the one with the biggest reputation, and they shouldalways remind us not to sit on reputation. We could easily do that here at SaintAndrew could easily do that. We have so many beautiful founders, even thoughthey're they're going one by one these last year to their rest, and they left us such a gloriousinheritance in this parish that it would be easy for us to sit on ourlaurels and, on the past, very easy big mistake to do that. EPHESISreceived the first letter. There was no more glorious city in Asia, minor thanemphasis it was on the coast. It was extremely wealthy. It had one of theseven wonders of the world. The incredible statute to Artimtis I meanit was an unbelievable place in the church was also very very famous Paul,had spent time there. He wrote a whole letter to them. It was a circular, butit Woald it looked like it was...

...originally to them. It's called theepistle to the Ethesians John had been there. Saint Timothy hadbeen their bishop, I mean they were an incredible church and they received the first letter, andin that letter the Lord said to them that he knew a lot of the good thingsthat they had done. He said, but I have this one thingagainst you: You have left your first love. You've abandoned your first love. Whatincredible words to describe that Jesus uses to describe his relationship withus. It's not legal language. It's lovelanguage, it's Spouseal, language, its lover, language, he's grieved because, though they haddone many good things, the relationship, the deeds that thatperish that that church had at the beginning they had left somehow Jesus had been demoted. Theirhearts, weren't hot for him like they had been like everyone's heart, is hotfor a first love. Instead, they had made a Muno. Second. Third, ten Jesus accepts one position on oneposition only first, he expects us to maintain our heart love for him to lovehim more than we love any other person to love him more than we love ourhusband and wife love him more than we love our children and our grandchildrenmore than our best friends number one love is Christ and unfortunately, this church hadstarted out so good. They had had a great hot love for Christ, but theyabandoned it and they were on their way out unless he said you repent and dothe deeds that you did it first another church, exactly the opposite is the fourth recipient of the sevenletters, and that church is a little tiny town called Fayatira. Tietara wasa nothing town. It was nothing compared to ephasis and yet of all the sevenletters it got. The longest letter Jesus spent the most time with Fiatiraand he wrote to Thiotira and he told them I've seen your love. I've seen yourperseverance, I've seen your suffering. I've seen your service and even more so he said this is theamazing statement. Your deeds of late are greater than atfirst, your deeds of late are greater than atfirst, the exact opposite of ephasis. They started out with the hot love andthen they were tailoring off. TIATIRA started okay, but they were building.They were maturing, their deeds of late were becoming more and more magnificent, and this brothers and sisters is thedifference between someone who is receiving thegrace of God unto salvation and someone who receives the grace of God in vain.What's the difference, the difference is those who receive the grace of Godunto salvation their deeds grow and, of course this is in the contextof addressing church CRS parish churches. You could apply it. Of course,the individuals but Jesus's words are to a whole parish,and so I wonder about us, I wonder about us and what the encouragement oftoday's lessons are. We have to not only brothers and sisters make sure wedon't live on the laurels of the incredibly sacrificial gifts that ourfounders have given to us. We can't live off of their love. You Know Howmany times you've heard me, make fun of and tease people who...

...have talked with me and M. I'm justmeeting them and I find out that they've been living in town for a yearor two, and this is the first time they're coming to church and I'm likewell, could you know please I want you to come come and then they saysomething to me like this. Well, you know my grandfather's a briast and I always tease them and poke them.I said: Well, that's very good for his salvation, but what about yours? Do you think having a grandfather andhis good deeds is going to please the Lord, and that means that you're goingto have a good good standing on the Day of Judgment. Now that can be better, that you nevereven knew. Whe was a priest if you're going to use that as a crutch to avoidloving God and fulfilling his Holy Commandments, and it's the same with us, brothers andsisters. We have to make sure we have to make sure that our deeds avelater gret greater than it first. We have to carry the beautifulinheritance that we've received and improve it in this way. Of course, we honor God,and this way we also honor our founders. This is exactly what they would want. This is exactly what they've taught usto do. We have to fulfill it. The Lord knows the Lord knows he'spouring out His grace upon us he's giving us himself so that we canspread the love around share the light and not end up like those undevoted people, with no true allegiance to him, who get repossessed and end up having aterrible end to a short beginning. You know one of my favorite preachers that I like so much. I like him much because he is a atremendous preacher, but also because of is own patrimony. His name is Saint Cesarius of Arlin Arley is in southern France, and he lived in the fifth century. Hewas born about four seventy and we have an incredible three volume.This is one of three volumes of his sermons. He was such a prolificpreacher. One of the reasons I love his sermons is because I can smell SaintJohn Cresostum in his sermons and the reason I can smell Saint Jon Rasatam,even though Saint Joc Fresotam died in four hundred and seven, and he wasn'teven born for sixty three more years is that he learned his theology from thewritings of Saint John Cassian, who died in four thirty. Only forty yearsbefore his birth in Saint John Cassian, was the spiritual son of Saint JonCrissosta and had left Constantinopl at the time that Jane Jon Presosten wasbetrayed and he took he took letters. Hof appealed to thebishops in Italy and to the Poul POLP ENNOCEN even ended up going to Franceand starting a beautiful monastic community that Saint Cesarius inheriteda way of life from. I want to close my sermon by reading aquote from him about our subject: He's writing about how Christians couldknow that they have not received the grace of God in vain. This is what he says. We too dearly beloved without anypreceding good merit, have received such great goods from the Lord throughhis generous graces and have merited to be changed from bitterness and tosweetness, summon from barrenness to the fruitfulness of good works. Therefore, let us, with God's help,prepare our minds for every good work, considering what the apostle preacheswhen he says, I entreat you brethren not to receive the grace of God in vain. What does it mean to receive the graceof God in vain, except to be unwilling to perform good works with the help ofHis grace?...

What does it mean, except to defilewith emphious thoughts and pollute with dissolate words? What he himself hasmade clean, what except to destroy what he hasbuilt up and to kill what he has animated, therefore dearly beloved, letnot the divine benefit to be destroyed in us by succeeding. Evil deeds, lestvices overtake US and virtues, be excluded from our hearts, then would be fulfilled in us. What iswritten if a man again touches a corpse after he has bathed? What did he gainby his curification? If virtues are driven away and we are willing toaccept vices, we should fear that there will be fulfilled in us the words whenthe unclean spirit has gone out of a man. He roams through dry places insearch of a resting place and finds none. After this, he returns to the housewhich he left and he finds it unoccupied thet. He takes with him seven otherspirits more evil than himself, and the last state of that man will be worsethan the first. Let USK brothers, who have merited tobe freed from all evils by the grace of baptism, with its assistance, strive tobe filled with spiritual goods and then, when the heavenly farmer comes andbegins to fan his threshing floor, we will not be burned by unquenchable firealong with the chaff, but made deserve to be stored away like wheat in theHeavenly Barn, with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom his powerand might for ever Endeavour Amen. You know the last few months I've been feelingthat maybe this is the hardest period I've everfaced in the life of the church. We put lots of responsibilities on ourshoulders, one after another, wwe're doing three major things. At the sametime, usually we've done one we're doing three. I don't know why. I guess I could blamemyself, but you voted for it all we're in this together. It just may be that God wants to show us how faithful he is, how much he can help us, even though wehave a sense of being in such need, and maybe also because he wants us tomake our founders prout and he wants our deeds of late to be greater thanthose at the beginning. Make od help us omen. We hope that you have enjoyed and havebeen edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar,Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourrishing thespiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in otheravailable titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectarpublications, please visit our website at www, DT, patristic, nectar, dot, Org,again, that's www dot, patristic nectar, Godol.

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