The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

The Devil’s Curriculum

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The parable of the sower. Learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications.

Ancient faith. Radio and patristic nectar publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah Trenem patristic nectar publications invites our listeners to visit our website for our newest offering, four hundred texts on love by Saint Maximus the confessor. This offering four hundred texts on love is the second installment in the PHILOCALIA project and is the most famous of the works of Saint Maximus the confessor. Here, Saint Maximus expounds the very essence of the Christian life, the way of love. He provides soul nourishment and direction in the imitation of Jesus Christ for both novices and the most experienced believers. This text in the Philocalia has been cherished by believers for over a millennium and is offered with a special introduction by His grace, Bishop Maxim, hierarch of the western American diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church and an internationally renowned patristics scholar and maximologist, and now here's father, just sire the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. You heard brothers and sisters, that magnificent parable of the soler this morning, this fundamental parable that's recorded by all three of the Sonoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. This parable is also explained in great detail by our Savior, and its intention specifically was to address the subject of the Human Heart, to address the question of what we have by way of soil to receive the word of God. And in the parable, as you know, it describes four types of soil, the hard soil, the rocky soil, the thorny soil and the good soil. Only one of the four is a Christian soil. Only one is a fruit bearing soil, and that's the good soil. God forbid that we have hearts that are hard, that can't hear, or hearts that are shallow, so that we begin to hear, but only a little bit, because we can't be too bothered by our faith. Or God forbid thorny hearts that have a lot of dissipated thought, an interest, some for God, yes, but also some for the world. And therefore thorns, the weeds, grow up and they choke out the good things that God intense. God give us hearts that are soft soil that's cultivated by thoughtfulness, by prayer, by maybe some tears even. That would water the soil so that it can receive the word of God and bring forth through. This is a magnificent parable. But what I'd like to focus on this morning in the parable are not the types of soils, but instead one phrase, poignant potent phrase, in the text, which says that the devil came and stole the seed. The devil came and takes away the word so that they may not believe and be saved. Brothers and sisters, you know the Soer is the son of God and his servants and that...

...the seed is his word and that the soils are your hearts. But there is another sower in this text. It's not just the Almighty who is sowing his word. He has an enemy, and we do too, the evil one, and he is active sowing. He's not sowing God's words, he's sowing his own words and he's trying to steal the progress that God allows us to make. It is a fact of our life to day and of church life in general, and of the pastorate for sure, that there is a terrible reality that has become very common and that is that we know, but we do not believe. We know, we've heard, we've received even to some degree, but the word of God doesn't have dominance. It hasn't come to rule us, it hasn't come to define our lives. Maybe we even want it to, but we don't yet want enough to and therefore, while we know this, we aren't able to receive it. Unto a believing a practical, believing word, it's worked out in our life and can actually save us from the destruction that comes to a life that does not have the word of God. Whether it's young adults in improper relationships that they know are wrong and they'll tell you they're wrong, but they can't stop or married people in shameful conflicts that they know are wrong. They know they should stop the anger, they should stop the fighting, but they can't. Or maybe it's older folks who know that aging and all of its challenges is to be embraced and is to be a time of joy and transition of affections from the Earth to heaven, but bitterness has them and they can't break free. Whatever it may be, there is no salvation without accepting the word of God, believing it and keeping it. God does not give us his word to be one of many words in our life. It's God's word and therefore it's the word for us. The evil one is a nasty but talented catechist. He shows other words that undermine our faith. He's an exceedingly talented pedagogue, he's a master marketer and he has a very thorough curriculum. Yesterday I was invited by our bishop to give a lecture to the young people at our fall gathering, are the ascess and fall gathering, and the lecture was on the ISOM's. This is what I was asked to speak on. The ISOM's what I would call the devil's catechism. Those ideas, those thoughts that are not the word of God that, if accept it, undermine the word of God, but are so prevalent they fly through the air. They come to us in books and in media, through our professors. Many of these things are rock solid commitments of major universities in our country. The ISM's Marxism, materialism or consumerism, nominalism, something that is a tremendous threat to the church. The idea that we can have a Faint Association with Christ and the Church we may be baptized and we may go to church now and then, and that that makes us...

Orthodox. nominalism, Americanism, a great temptation to the right, a failure to be able to make a distinction between the church and her universal values and our nation and its values, a blind nationalism instead of an educated Christian patriotism, feminism, cynicism, relativism and its religious offspring, acumanism, multi culturalism, which is the veritable religion of civil society and discourse today, the idea that every culture is equal in value and should be equally respected. The Mantra of this ISM is celebrate diversity, and so we're unable even to make moral judgments. And lastly, the one that I'd like to press home to day and speak a little bit about is the ISM called scientism. SCIENTISM, this is one of the devil's words. It's an exaggerated belief in science and the notion that the only real access to indisputable truth is through science. This is scientism. This idea drives much of our current attention culturally. It's why our university curricula have become more and more science oriented and the humanities have been fenned out if not completely excluded. It's why we fund science today at such a frenzied pace. And scientism itself is a manifest falsehood. First, far from being the only indisputable measure of determining truth, the greatest things in life, faith, love, reasoning, are not subject to the scientific method at all. They are beyond science and away from science. Even the fundamental presuppositions of science itself, upon which science must depend in order to do its work, like the laws of logic, like the presupposition that the human mind can discover the laws of the world, even the presuppositions of science upon which science depends, are not subject to the scientific method. The are presuppositions of faith that reasonable people in every culture have made. The greatest things in life, the most precious like the human soul, is not subject to science. And it's when science attempts to describe through its methods, when it oversteps its limited boundaries and tries to describe aspects of life which it has no business trying to describe, like love, that it's foolishness really becomes clear. Where we are actually aft to believe that a person, a loves person, be because of some genetic determinism. It's all chemicals were taught. It's just a matter of mufts and betrayal, no matter how we feel it in our heart, even though it lays it slow. It had to take place because the idea of an immortal soul with the freedom of will that can be used not just for good but to commit terrible betrayals and evil can't exist in the world of scientism. SCIENTISM is also a manifest falsehood because it presupposes a truth about itself which any person with the slightest knowledge of the history of science knows to be false. A little bit of the history of science unveils the fact that the scientific community...

...is anything but a stable constant, anything but the only way to know the whole truth, and has been subject to continual revolution of scientific paradigms from as long as we have been recording the history of science. Generation after generation discovered that what the previous generation thought was indisputable scientific fact falls very shortly into the category of disproven theory. The difference between traditional science and Scientism, as its being practiced so often today in the post Christian secular West, is a difference of attitude. Traditional Science sought the truth it sought to understand the world that God made and in so doing it collaborated with the church. Modern Science does not seek truth. Modern Science says what is truth. Modern Science seeks control. This is what we're pursuing. We want to pursue these things so that we can learn to control the body, so that we can control the processes of death and corruption, of sickness and other things. How do we escape, brothers and sisters, these ISMs of the devil? How do we avoid the Devil's curriculum, these is ems, and I'm just unpacking one of the nine I just mentioned, and there's more. There's more. These are so popular and are so commonly propagated. How are we in fact to escape being catechized and formed into an image that believes these ISMs? How can we receive the word of God inside of us so that we can actually keep it, believing in it and acting on it, unto salvation, so that we don't end up stock between knowing but really not able to believe it? Let me make a suggestion in closing my hommily. Yesterday I had a beautiful interaction with one of our parishioners. We were talking about our mutual struggles and some temptations that had come and had been too great, and this beloved said to me, I'm just not catechized. This is a lifelong Orthodox and I have been hearing this and hearing this and hearing this. It's true. Sometimes this is how we find ourselves. We're not as established in our faith as we know we need to be in order to make it through the pressure upon us. These cookie cutter is m's are stabbing us, they're wanting to put us into it their image and we're grasping for our own faith to be able to answer with the word of God, to put these things out of our life, to be able to trust them. And I think that's an honest statement and I would say we all should ask ourselves that question. Are we educated in the faith? Are We catechized? Have we embraced the word of God and taken it seriously and pursued it? Lately, in confession, maybe for a year now, I have been suggesting too many to take their spiritual pathologies as seriously as they would take if they're not physiologically ill. I've encouraged them to take their spiritual illnesses and the study of them and the cure of them as serious as they would if they had a particular physical illness. Is it not two brothers and sisters, that when we get struck with something serious, we jump on the Internet right away? I'm medical sciences democratize today. There's lots...

...of avenues for us and we all do it when we're sick or someone that we really love has a sickness. All of a sudden I hear US using science speak. We're talking about this kind of sarcoma and this kind of cancer and what it does and how it responds to this and how it responds to this and how this treatment is insufficient. But this has some possibility, because the tests say forty percent of everyone who does this has some positive effect. All of a sudden we get serious because we know it is serious, and so we study the diseases, we find out what we can do. We also go and we look for the physicians and we look for the hospitals that can really treat this, those of reputation, those of not, and we pursue them. How about, in the case of the far more important diseases of the soul that are actually threatening not just to kill our bodies but to destroy our entire life in Hell. How about those these things, brothers and sisters, we ought take seriously. For instance, if we are slaves to the disease of anger, it's not sufficient just to confess that over and over and over. That's not sufficient. If it was a physical disease that was threatening you, you wouldn't just be taking to aspirin when it afflicted you. You would take it seriously and you would study it, and we ought study the word of God on how to cure the passion of anger. You know, the majority of our spiritual works, the writings of the fathers in the church. The majority of the material is dedicated to the development of the spiritual life and to overcoming passions. There is practical advice that the fathers, the divine doctors of our souls, give us, and we ought pursue them, ought we not, in an aggressive way, to know what our own pathologies are, how they're described by the church, what the causes are, what inflames them, what Tams them, and how to get the grace of God to eradicate them? We ought catechize ourselves specifically about our own diseases and take the word of God that seriously. To The cure of our life isn't in our common wish? I think it is. I think it is is in our common wish. We all have some collection. We all have some collection of three, four, five issues. We all have usually one that's really big and we can't escape, but then we have a few others that we know that that's just us. When we make mistakes and when we commit sins, this is usually in the areas that it is. We're not all afflicted by everything. Don't we have? I think this is true, that we have a desire to be done with them one by one. You know, maybe spend we spend a couple years on this and then we get on top of it this idea that somehow we just are going to have to be its slave until our last day and the only hope for us is in the resurrection and the Kingdom of God. The saints on our walls bear witness to that fact, that that is not true. There is potential, by the grace of God, to make progress, and I think we should say this. We should say look, not being overwhelmed by who we are or by our weaknesses, to take one at a time, to study them, to make concerted effort to reduce their influence in our life, if not eradicate their influence from our life, and then establish ourselves for a year or two in some sort of stable life without giving into them, and then move on to the next so that it's reasonable, when the gray hair comes out, that you have a life of virtue to prove it. This is, I think, a natural desire of the Christian heart and what we ought do. We ought catechised ourselves, we ought take our pathology seriously and here some very practical things.

Read. Yes, I know, I know, it's the priestly mantra. Read, listen to the scriptures and godly preaching. If you have an iphone or a smart phone, download the ancient faith radio APP. It's free. Put It on your phone in the car when you're driving. You'll have an option of something like eighty different podcast that's a pretty rich garden. That's a pretty rich garden. Pick something, listen to it, put it onto your computer. Mom's get an IPOD and put it in your ears while you're cooking and listen. Listen to something while you're while you're cooking, while you're driving to work. Utilize our book store here you know, we have a fantastic bookstore for an Orthodox church. We have visions for it, really visions of grandeur for it in the future, if God blesses, but what it is right now is already something. We have a lot of treasure, a lot of gems. Utilize our book store. Always have something on your night table next to your bed. Always have something there so that if you wake up and you can't sleep, you can grab it. If you have a few minutes waiting for your beloved to come to bed and the kids are driving you crazy, take the book and read. Come to class. You don't have the best teacher in the Orthodox Church in America, but at least you have a zealous one. There are always classes going on, not just for adults but for juniors, and the classes are not for the chairs. We have a lot of folks coming to class. I'm very happy we've had about a hundred this this current class. I think that's wonderful. But you might have heard me recently tell you that we have five hundred and fifty active parishioners. That's twenty percent. Now I know all of those are not adults. Well, about three hundred of them adults, but still only thirty three percent. That's an F in my book. What I'm getting right now, that's an F. I would like to get a little higher grade. Go through catechism yourself. You know, we have a nice catechetical class. We have twenty six catechumens. They're very nice people. God has sent us some very beautiful people and it's catechism is not just for them. You are invited. If you say to yourself what our parishioner said to me yesterday, I'm not catechized like I want to be, get catechized. Come to the class, get an overview of your faith and if you were catechized and you forgot, this is what happens to us. Relearn it. As St Peter says, to write to you the same things as no trouble for me and it is a safeguard for you. relearning by repetition is very good. And lastly, consult the educated brothers and sisters. You have a lot of Nice folks in this parish who are even we even have some very talented lay catechists who serve on our catechetical team and take the catechumans out on those Sundays when we pray for them and we dismiss them. Ask these people what should I be reading? What have you read lately? Could you give me a book recommendation? Ask Your questions to them. Just because you can't always get me or ask me, ask someone else. There's a lot of educated Orthodox Christians in our parish and we can help each other, we can fertilize each other. If we do this, we will receive the word of God unto believing and Salvation, and we won't find ourselves like one of those soils that only have a shallow apprehension of the word of God and really we get overcome by the ISMS,...

...by the catechism of the devil. Let's leave his nonsense for him and for his demons, and they can mourn the fact that they propagated these things for all eternity. But for us, human beings made in the image of God, the Children of God, let's just take the word of God as our authority and belief on 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,.

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