The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

The Charitable Anathema

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The Sunday of Orthodoxy. Learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications.

No. God has permanently and irrevocably yoked himself to creation. We depict him because he depicted himself. We paid icons because he's made himself permanently visible. He became a man, brothers and sisters, and the son of God remains a man today at the right hand of his father, and you'll see him again, as your yearning to do, when he comes in glory to gather us and to bring the Kingdom of God and to bring all the misery and sorrow that we've lived through to a beautiful end. Going to happen. Ancient Faith Radio and patristic nectar publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah TRENNA. Father Josiah is the pastor of St Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. For more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. And now Father Josiah in the name of the father, the end of the sun and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Brothers and sisters, I agree to on this Feast of the triumph of Orthodoxy, which is celebrated with such verve such enthusiasm by all our orthodox brothers and sisters around the world, celebrating the victory of our faith, the victory of the Church and the Christian and Apostolic Teaching regarding the sacred icons. Over the icons smashers, those that we know as the iconoclasted heretics, who are inspired by evil spirits and sought to rob the Church of her iconographic tradition. Under the guise of piety and respect for God's Commandments, they destroyed the icons and attempted to eradicate the veneration of icons in the church, and did so for over a hundred and fifty years. Icons are central to our faith, to the Christian faith. The first and ultimate iconographer is in fact our savior, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who fashioned with his own fingers man and woman as the image of God. He also pressed that beautiful claw up against his sacred face during his earthly ministry and imprinted an image miraculously his face upon the cloth that he sent to Prince Abgar of Edessa. This beautiful story and the creation of this sacred image is recorded about the creation of the...

...sacred images recorded in the church history of the usebious in the fourth century, the time of Emperor Constantine, and that sacred image was a precious relic for centuries, cared for by the church. The Lord is not just the ultimate iconographer, he's also the ultimate icon restorer icons. In this fallen world, they get old and they get covered with soot and sometimes we have to hire the iconographers to come back and, through a process, bring the icon back to its original condition and restore it. This is in fact an image, a picture of what our savior does with us and with all human persons who seek him. He fashioned US originally as his image. We've covered our self with soot and with blackness and with filth that we know too much about, and he, by His grace, he cleans us, he brings us back to an restored image. He also blessed St Luke, the Apostle and evangelist, was our first iconographer, who painted images of our savior and especially of the most pure Theotoco, some of which remain in the possession of the church. To this day, and since the early church, ICONOGRAPHY has flowered, erupting from its beginnings into full bloom to fill the world with beauty, to bring heaven to the earth and to communicate the saving truth that our Lord Jesus Christ, this coeternal son of God, has become a man. There is no Christianity without iconography. Icons are not an addendum. It's not as though we have the Orthodox faith and all, we also like pretty pictures and we can put our love of iconography as though some sort of esthetic appreciation, like a type of incense we might use. Not at all. Icons and the making of icons are central to the faith. There is no faith without it. That doesn't mean that there aren't Christians who don't have icons, but they have whatever they have of the Christian faith. They have from the Orthodox Church, the church, and that faith was communicated through holy icons. So even if they don't have icons in their church, their faith only exists because of icons, their integral and necessary expressions of a true belief in God and the Gospel. Icons are the visible word of God, and this is the teaching brothers and sisters of the seventh Ecumenical Council. The father's there said that the Gospel courses through the world in two means. It comes through word and through image. We can no more get rid of iconography in the church then we could get rid of the Bible. The church can certainly live without the Bible,...

...but not well, in the same way she can live without icons if we have to hide in the fields for services because of the Times of persecution, and we can't build splendid churches and commission sacred chronography, but we would never voluntarily do so. No, I canography is not an addendum to the faith, but central proclaiming and preserving the fundamental truth of the Gospel that God has become man. And just wait until this truth is so loudly proclaimed in your new church. Just wait till person after person comes into that beautiful temple and sees right in front of their eyes that magnificent dome with the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ there. And then they look behind the high place and they see in the eastern APPS that same glorified Christ as a child in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and they'll learn just by looking that he who is in the heavens actually came down to Earth to unite heaven and earth. In the womb of the Virgin, they'll learn the most sacred truth of the incarnation visually. It's no wonder that the Jews and the Muslims, who do not believe in the incarnation, who did not believe that God has a coaternal son, let alone that he has a son who has become a man, it's no wonder that they have always resisted our iconography and have attempted to criticize us over the centuries and to eradicate iconography. In places where Holy Orthodox lands were taken over by Muslim domination, almost universally, they would come into our churches, they would grate the icons and they would cover them with plaster. They couldn't bear to look at them. For us, to live without icons would be to move back to the Old Testament, to live like Jews, to live under the shadows of the law, as though God had not permanently and irrevocably yoked himself to creation and made himself visible. Can you imagine if the miracle of the incarnation took place in the twenty one century? I've often thought of this and and what how unusual would be? Everyone would have youtube videos of our savior in in the Holy Land doing his miracles. People would have their cell phones out. You know, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Can you imagine how many people would have been sitting there with their cell phones on watching the murbearing women at the tomb in that first Pascua n probably would have had their iphones recording just in case something happened really. And then what will we have done? The iconic class would want us to believe that after Jesus, let's say he was in cart it in the twenty one century, after he was raised and ascended into heaven, they say, they would want us to destroy all those pictures and all those videos and pretend that it never happened, because they want us to think that somehow to depict the...

...side of God is wrong against the Commandments. How absolutely ludicrous. We would love those videos. They'd be the most popular, ultimately viral and every land. No God has permanently and irrevocably yoked himself to creation. We depict him because he depicted himself. We paint icons because he's made himself permanently visible. He became a man, brothers and sisters, and the son of God remains a man today at the right hand of his father, and you'll see him again, as you're yearning to do, when he comes in glory to gather us and to bring the Kingdom of God and to bring all the misery and sorrow that we've lived through to a beautiful end. Going to happen to day we celebrate the triumph of Orthodoxy, our victory over the evil one, who despises icons. He despises iconography because icons are the means by which his overthrow is proclaimed. The evil one despises icons because icons lead men to the knowledge of the true God and they proclaim in a loud and material voice, the Gospel that God has become a man and reconciled the world to him. Can you imagine how much, in the tenth century, the evil one and all his demons lamented the day that the envoys from Prince Vladimir of Kiev came to Constantinople, to Agia Sophia, and were absolutely overwhelmed by the sacred iconography depicting the true faith, so much so that when they wrote back to their prince, they said, when we were standing in the Church of God and looking at the sacred images, we did not know if we were in heaven or on Earth. All we know is that God dwells there. This led to the conversion of the ruse and to the whole Russian kingdom. How much Satan laments the power of ICONOGRAPHY. Saint John of Damascus says in his book on the divine images, that great defender of the faith. He says that if any pagan comes to you and wants to know about your faith, simply walk him inside the Church and let him look at the sacred images. That's all that's necessary, and he'll understand the faith. The evil one despises icons because they instruct us. They especially instruct the simple and the illiterate, in those who can't read. They make the histories of Holy Orthodoxy clear to the Faithful. They assist the faithful in our quest for salvation. They they serve as a point of contact with the heavenly world. And don't you know it, you know sacred icons, brothers and sisters, are two way streets. We approach them and they approach us. We offer our veneration to the images of the Lord and his most pure mother to St George and the saints. But we have to remember that when we approach them, their windows, windows to...

...the Kingdom of God, which is why they're painted the way they are, why they're not naturalistic depictions that have shade and image, as though in a lights coming from the outside and hitting them and casting a shadow. Not at all. Their depictions of transfigured life, of heavenly life, which is why the light comes from the inside and out of the face of the person and why they have a halo around their head. You have two icons in this church who have communicated to you as much as you have communicated to them. They've brought heaven to you. They've touched you by their miracles, beckoning and calling us to strive for the next life, for the divine life, for the heavenly kingdom, giving birth in us to all sorts of devout emotions and inspiration, keeping the nearness of God and the saints, that communion of Saints. Alie, can you imagine how sorrow full we'd be if all the pictures of our beloved parents and grandparents were lost, those who have gone before us, those who have already gone on to the next life and have made the transition. How would we feel if all we had were mental images, the ICONIC LAFTS? Food? Want off, not on even, to have not even mental images. For these reasons and more, of the evil one stirred up a great tumult in the church for some hundred and fifty years, and the eighth in the ninth century. He encouraged phony bishops, heretical priests and monks and even emperors, from where the real efforts came to attack our sacred icons and to charge the venerators of icons with idolatry. Can you imagine our faithful Orthodox of bishops, priests and faithful being charged with idolatry? The thought is simply ludicrous. The church that eradicated idolatry from the world, that turned idol worshipers and too, worshippers of the one true God, being accused itself of idolatry. We got rid of the idols and then we were accused of idolatry. This pernicious and soul destroying heresy, which was finally and definitively overthrown, is commemorated. This overthrow is commemorated on the first Sunday of lent every year. When, in eight hundred forty three it began, the Empress Theodora and her pious son Michael reestablished the icons for the last time in Agya Sophia. We have been celebrating this victory ever since. On this day will do it a little bit at the end of this service, and if we didn't have a storm and had a Sunday of Orthodoxy together, we would do it, no doubt in a more full and complete way. We read the statements that come from the second egomenical council, defending holy icons and anathematizing the iconic...

...lafts and their iconoclast heresy. It's a proclamation called the SINOLICON which has both a positive declaration of our faith and also, this anathematizing of the heretics, in fact, heresy. The word heresy and heretic occur more than ten times in this morning's matten's hymnity, as well as additional times in last night's great vespers. These words, heretic and heresy are not popular words today. They are not politically correct jargon, definitely out. In fact, ironically, the only thing that secularizing culture considers to be heretical and worth the castigation of the word heredic is the idea that anyone could actually be a heretic. That is heretical. The only thing that isn't accepted by secularizing society, so much so that they would get upset and royal, is the idea that anyone actually had the truth. This is the only heretical concept. The Anathema, however, as used by the church, has always been our vigilant and loving response to heresy. Our Lord himself taught us this in his vociferous condemnation of the Pharisees and the false teachers of his own day. You can read his most virulent attack on them in the twenty three chapter of St Matthew. It's often called the woe discourse. It's called the woe discourse because Jesus pronounces woes on the Pharisees and the false teachers so many times. Woe to you, pharisees, hypocrites, and then he'll explain why. Woe to you for teaching this, woe to you for teaching that. He established the standard of the his followers response to heresy. We don't play with it. It's not cute, it's deserving of woes and St Paul, the Great Apostle, followed this up by by proclaiming anathema to all those who preach, in his words, a false Jesus, quote unquote, or again in his words, a different Gospel, which is really no gospel at all. This is Galatians Chapter One and to Corinthians Chapter One, and indeed he even pronounces in anathema upon all those Christians who do not love our Lord, Jesus Christ and are fakers, at the end of his letter to the Corinthians, his first letter. These censures of our Lord and the Apostle are not lapses in character. It's not as though the great prince of peace, the great lover of Man, our Savior, who thirsts to help and save every person, all of a sudden just fell into a moment of hatred in spite. God forbid that thought. It's not...

...as those St Paul, who did everything and expended his whole life becoming all things to all men, that he might save some, when he issued these anathemas against those preaching of false Jesus and a false of Gospel, which was no gospel. It's not as though he all of a sudden lost his love, brothers and sisters. The Anathema if charitable. It is a charitable anathema. It's the thing to do to show love in the face of heresy. They weren't lapses of character, they were acts of love for God and men. And in a relativistic and a permissive culture, anathema is difficult to understand, it to accept. In order to believe in the propriety of an anathema we have to believe in the truth, and that truth exists. We know by looking around at what permissiveness in our own society has done. Our culture is awash in violence, civil and domestic violence, because of a thoroughgoing permissiveness and home and state, and as a result, our society is rising up and calling on our representatives to be tough on crime and her families to show tough love. Yet at the same time we have not only tolerated the worst form of violence, but have actually turned this worst form of violence into a virtue. And the worst form of violence is not domestic abuse, as awful as that is. It's not even abortion, which is probably second the worst form of violence according to the church fathers. The worst form of violence is heresy. We pray in Mattins for this Sunday, we say deliver thy people from the violence of impiety and kindled them with zeal for Orthodoxy. Heresy is the greatest form of violence because it attacks and ruins the whole person. Whereas other forms of physical violence simply attack the body, violence attacks the soul, the heart, the mind, and that leads to the perpetual destruction of the body in perdition. Heresy also always leads to civil violence, as it did in the ICONOCLASS controversy. So many of our bishops murdered, so many monks, so many priests, so many faithful imprisoned and tortured and maimed because of their faithfulness to the church, as heresy inspired violence amongst civil authorities. Besides the ICONOCLASS controversy, you can think too of the violence, the heretically inspired violence of the Latin Crusades, especially the fourth crusader, or the Protestant insurrection, as so many Catholics embraced Protestant heresies in the sixteen century. Almost universally,...

...it led to grotesques, acts of violence not just against the Latins but against themselves, Protestant on Protestant. The church is not like so many contemporary politicians who so often change their tunes that the populace has actually no idea what they actually believe. The church is quite clear and plain and she says anathema to heresy, anathema to the heretics. The church also sings on this day many years to all those who have held their faith many years, to the right believing rulers and to our right believing bishops and faithful brothers and sisters. We who are Orthodox Christians need to have the church's view on heresy because love demands it. We can't love unless we speak the truth. St Paul says that is what we're called to do, to speak the truth in love. This is the path of salvation. When someone is embracing awful thoughts and soul destructing teachings, it's not loving to be silent. We celebrate this wonderful feast also on this first Sundays in lent after we've had a very aggressive week of fasting. At least we've tried to have a very aggressive week of fasting. If you haven't tried to have in a very aggressive we can fasting, get with the picture and start trying this week. But the church plants this commemoration of the true faith on the first week, the first Sunday, after we've exercised ourselves this week in prayer and fasting and good deeds. She puts it there to remind us that the road, the narrow road, which re leads to the Kingdom of God, is that road which combines the true faith and the life of love, a life of striving for goodness. These two things together, and necessarily together, bring to US brothers sister's eternal salvation, and this is what I wish for you on the celebration of Holy Orthodoxy and the triumph of our faith and the holy icons. I wish you to hold the true faith and to live a life of love that will bring you to eternal glory in the Kingdom of God made them. 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. Until next time,.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (573)