The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 1 year ago

The Joy of Being an Orthodox Christian | The Triumph of Orthodoxy 2021

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———LINKS———

Contemporary Women Saints                              

The Hidden Man of the Heart | Archimandrite Zacharias (Zacharou) 

A Simple Heart: Cultivating Simplicity in the Spiritual Life | Bishop Irenei

Prayer of the Heart in an Age of Technology and Distractions | Fr. Maximos (Constas)

A Heart for God: Lessons from the Life of the Holy King and Prophet David | Fr. Josiah Trenham


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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. The hidden man of the heart by the highly esteemed Archimandrite Zacharias Zaccardu, the spiritual son of the late elder Sophroni of Essex. His grace, Bishop Basil of Wichita and Mid America, introduces this series with these words. In Father Zacharias's words and very person we hear the mind of the church in ways that we usually do not hear it, for in Father Zacharias's teaching we hear the saints, both elder Sophroni and Saint Silowan. He presents a tapestry of Christian experience. Let us attend so that you too might be woven into that tapestry that we know as sacred tradition. These lectures culminated in a book entitled the Hidden Man of the heart, published in two thousand and seven by the holy stavropegic monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Essex, England, and available in the United States from Mount Tabor publishing. These titles of Father Zacharias's seventh lecture are as follows. Lecture one, the mystery of Man's heart. Lecture to the awakening of the heart, lecture three, the awakening of the heart through the fear of death. Lecture for the building up of the heart through the grace of repentance, lecture five. Go in and you will find rest. Lecture six, the building up of the heart through vigilance and prayer. Lecture seven, on the gift of speaking in tongues. For these and other available titles, please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenham, the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. A blessed Sunday of Orthodoxy to all of you, brothers and sisters, and a very happy, joy filled lent. This is probably the first time on a Sunday you've ever seen our magnificent new purple alter vestments for lent. It's the first lent that we've had them. Praise the Lord and I I wish you all good strength and focus these holy days. I read a beautiful quote this week from that Great Gift of Christ to the Church in recent times, who died in one thousand nine hundred and seventy nine in Serbia, after suffering much and after illumining many people, and even more since he died. Saint Justin...

Popovich, St Justin says a very simple word about lent. He says the holy fast is a force of God, period. That's what lent is. It's the power of God for the salvation of sinners, for people to change, and it's the outpouring of grace. This is what lent is for. There is no orthodoxy without land, brothers and sisters, never has been and there never will be. I've entitled my homily today the joy of being Orthodox, the joy of being Orthodox, of believing the true faith. Recently I was up in Santa Barbara, a city that I owe so much too. was there that I became Orthodox, that was there that I met my wife. It's there that I became a priest and served my first years as a priest and I, of course, whenever I go there, I make my pilgrimage to kids world. I have to go to kids world, that magnificent playground that has thrilled so many of our youth here in this parish over the years, and there is a massive what's an even greater word than massive? Not sure there is one prodigiously massive fig tree there's a fig tree that is very ancient right at the base of kits world. Kids were to the world is literally built around this vict tree and the fig tree provide shade to all the young people who are playing at the at the playground. Santa Barbara has a number of these very, very famous old fig trees and when I went there in one thousand nine hundred and eighty five, I found out about these trees and I used to go down to one of them down by the beach and its roots are so massive, not just under the ground but above the ground, that you could lay down on a windy day in between the roots and not even know that there was any wind. I've always loved these trees and so while we were there, Presita had to go do a little errand and I went over to see the tree and I just embraced her and I was holding the tree, just resting my head on the tree until she came back. And when she came back, I let go of the tree and as I was walking away from the tree, a man and his little child were looking at me, smiling and he said to me, what did the tree say? And without hesitation, I looked at him and I said the tree set this, grow deep roots and you will become large and bear much fruit. That's what the tree said. That's what it says every day to...

...anyone who's willing to listen. It's a message that God is bringing forth from the magnificent trees, and especially this fig tree. I also told them, just as my wife walked up, I also told him. You know, he said, you know that there's another fig tree down by the beach. I said, Oh, yeah, when I was young I used to sleep in between its roots, which I did my first year in college, and she said no, you didn't, because that's where all the homeless people slept too, and she thought I was communicating to this man that I used to live on the street as a homeless person. But yes, the lesson of the fig tree, brothers and sisters, this is your life. You are the fruit of the massive, deeply rooted tree which is the church. The church is bearing fruits. It's the tree of life for the nation's it's bringing forth the fruit of life, eternal life, and offering it to the world, and the reason that the church is still here and still doing today what she has always done, is because she is deeply rooted. This is what allows her to endure storms and heat and persecution and being pounded on like she's being pounded on today, as she's been pounded on in every generation of every century. Her roots are so deep in the soil of God's grace that she can't be moved and it is a tremendous joy to be a little tiny branch, a little tiny leaf on that tree, isn't it? It's so exhausting to be tossed constantly by the newest religious fads, and there has never been a country that produces religious fads more than the United States of America. We're a deeply religious people, but unfortunately our history hasn't allowed us to be deeply rooted and therefore we allow our energy, our religious energy, to spawn all sorts of craziness, and it's exhausting to see them developing in theology, the changing concepts of God, the fights about who god is in American religion or isn't, all the fads associated with worship. I know some of you who have the great privilege of being raised in Orthodox families. You can't sympathize that much with our catechumans because you really haven't been tortured by going to religious worship services that change month after month, year after what? You never know what is going to happen next. It's exhausting, it's a torment. And then...

...what about the fads and morality, not just in theology and worship, but morality itself? Look at all of the so called churches that have now literally put their stamp on what the Scripture considers the most base immorality, practitioners of which the Scriptures called dogs. And there are all sorts of churches in America. They give blessings to people practicing this type of immorality. The pope this week literally had to issue a statement coming out of a synod, that we don't bless same sex unions. Wow, what a shock. We need to have a synod and make a proclamation about such a thing. Can you imagine how blessed we are, brothers and sisters, how blessed we are to be Orthodox Christians, to know that our theology is not changing, our worship is not changing, our morality if not changing period. And that's what This Day is about, the triumph of Orthodoxy. This is a source of great joy for us. What Peter Calls An inexpressible joy full of glory, to belong to the faith, to belong to Jesus, who is the same yesterday and today and forevermore and the qualities of the head are the qualities of the body. The Church has the same qualities as its savior, which is why the church is the same yesterday, today and forever. It's why us, we who are in process of becoming the same but have not yet reached that spot, can't alter the church herself, but rather the church alters us. When we read the Synoticon for the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Today, at the procession, we're going to mention the names of so many holy fathers who literally shed rivers of blood to defend the church and her truth against all sorts of heresies that wanted to change or update the faith, make it more relevant, more understandable. These holy fathers are not new to us. That language the holy fathers is ancient. We didn't start talking this way about the holy fathers and following the holy fathers or through the prayers of the Holy Fathers. We didn't start that in the year one thousand. After we had a really great history of you know, hundreds and hundreds of Holy Fathers and holy mothers that we...

...decided to make sure we needed to follow. We didn't start that in one thousand. We didn't start that in fifteen hundred when things really went nuts. Do you know that this has been our language from the beginning? Even just after our savior was resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven, immediately we began using this language. That's how conscientious, from the beginning, the church has been that we are people who are rooted in the Truth and therefore the truth does not change. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life. We actually think that we actually be leave in the truth. How much does that set apart of this our faith, from our culture? We actually believe there is something that is true in every place and at all times, whether anyone likes it or not, and we may all be against them, it doesn't make it any less true. We don't change the truth, the truth changes us. We believe in the true faith, in the words of the Holy Apostle Jude, which was once for all delivered to the saints. We believe that it can't be altered, it can't be improved, it's not given to us to give it a facelift every few generations. That's not what we do. Rather, it gives us a soul lift. The faith is what saves us. We don't save it. This is why, at the end of every Orthros service and at the end of every vesper service, what do we say? Preserve, Oh God, the Holy Orthodox faith and all Orthodox Christians. We don't say improve, Oh God, the faith. The faith doesn't need improve it it needs to be embraced and lived so that it can save us. This is Holy Orthodoxy. This is why we speak about holy tradition and the holy fathers, and always have. There's never been a time when we didn't talk that way. Just think about St Paul. Think about when he was writing his letter to the Corinthians, maybe the year fifty seven, twenty four years after Jesus's crucifixion in His resurrection. And what does he say? Stand fast and hold to the tradition which I taught you. Not Twenty five years after Jesus's resurrection and Paul is talking about the fact that he himself was incorporated into a holy tradition and he has been passing it on and he told his son, Timothy you do the same thing, the things that I have taught you. You find faithful men to impart the same tradition to it was already holy tradition. Twenty five years that later, we were...

...already talking about that after Jesus's resurrection. This is why Clement of Rome, who letter to the Corinthian Church, is the earliest post New Testament writing that we have. Most think it was written around a d ninety five, and in his letter he calls upon the believers to quote obey the rule of the tradition. This is our way. This is why, say, an ignatious of Antioch, just a few years after Clement, certainly no later than about a d one hundred and seven. In his letter to the Magnesians, as he was moving to Rome to be martyred, he uses the word Christianity. The first time it's ever recorded in history is in his letter to the Magnesians, and he calls on Christians to fight the heretics who want to change the faith, because the faith has been embraced by US and does not change. These are his words. He said you must avoid the heretics as wild beasts. They are mad dogs that bite, bite, stealth. You must be on guard against them, for their bite is hard to heal once you start improving the faith because you're so intelligent, like thousands have tried to do throughout church history. And so many today, so many smartypans phds all over the world. You get a PhD, you know better than the Holy Father's you know. I must say I'm very proud of one of our young men, Zach Porkou, who, by the way, this week, please pray for him. In three days he's going to defend his dissertation at Catholic University in America. He's going to have his viba defending his dissertation and he wrote me a little note and he sent me his final copy of his dissertation and he said, Father, I I dealt. I dealt a lot with origin in my in my dissertation, he goes, but I remember what you said to me before I went to do my Ph d. He said. You looked at me. You said, don't become smarter than the Church. Praise the Lord. He kept his soul and didn't become under these pompous popes that so fill our universities. Even people who claim to be Orthodox, who are always trying to correct the church here and there. Once you start doing that, when does it ever end? What is the end of it? This is why he says avoid them like wild beasts. They're mad dogs that bite by stealth. You must be on guard against them, for their bite is heart. To Heal. These heretics will go to the unquenchable fire, as also will those who listen to them. Be Deaf whenever anyone speaks to you apart from Jesus Christ. This is why Saint Ignatius wrote in his letter to the...

Church in Rome Christianity is greatest when it is hated by the world. That's when we're greatest, when we're not trying to accommodate our faith to the worldly spirit, which is impossible. What we do is lovingly accommodate ourselves and others to the faith. All heresy is change, all heresy is an effort to conform the faith to the world, to make some aspect of our faith palatable to the world. Why do Christian churches bless immoral relationships? Because the the world demands it and they care. They don't want to die. They want somehow to make the offense of the Cross go away. This is why the epistle to Dignitas, written just shortly after saying Ignatius. Do you notice how I'm trying to show you this as always been our way, by using the earliest documents that we have from the New Testament. This is why the epistle to dignitas says this. Christians must never transgress. By the way, it could have been written as early as one hundred and twenty, maybe as late as one hundred and fifty, but you get it right. Early Christians must never transgress the bounds fixed by the fathers. Can you imagine what the author of this letter meant by that, compared to us, we who live after all of them? Still we were talking this language. Never transgress the bounds fixed by the fathers in one hundred and twenty. This is our faith, brothers and sisters, and this is why we're so happy this day. This is why we're so happy not to be tormented by the constant compromises outside the church. This is why we're not swimming in uncertainty and doubt, wondering who is God, who am I by what's the purpose of my life? The very questions that can't be answered in our own culture. Our culture is desperately looking for something and it has no root, it has no anchor anymore, terrible desperation. Christians do not compromise with the world. The church does not conform to the world, but the Church conforms the work to Christ. That's what's happening in our lives and that as what's happening in the world by the Ministry of the Church today, in just a few minutes, after we have the blessing of receiving the Lord, we're going to process outside and we're going to read the CEO The cone, from the triumph of Orthodoxy, from the seventh Ecumenical Council and from the Exaltation of the Icons in eight hund forty three when definitively the heresy of ICONOCLASS, I'm after a hundred and twenty plus years...

...of killing us, literally killing our faithful, especially by the authority of a godless or a heretical at that time, state, finally was put down. We're going to mention all of these incredibly triumphant people and you can add all of the names you're getting here to all the names you just heard in the epistle. Lesson all those who struggled for the faith and found victory by holding to the truth and never letting go of God. All of these triumphs are the fruit of the one supreme triumph, that horrible death that to the world look like the greatest defeat, which was turned into the greatest victory the world has ever seen, the death and resurrection of our Savior. This is the ultimate triumph that makes us Christians and that we celebrate. It is the cause celebrate of every time we get together, every feast we celebrate. It's Jesus's triumph that's at its heart. For Three Hundred Year of the Lord inspired our brothers and sisters through every act of martyrdom and through oceans of slaughter. And the very empire that destroyed Christ embraced him after three hundred years, and that launched a period of five hundred years. And whence once we had been we had won the empire. We fought heresy after a heresy until the Exaltation Today, the Triumph of Orthodoxy. Today, in eight forty three and for the last one hundred years, the Church has continued her task of bringing the triumph of faith to people far and wide, and we continue it today. It's our joy, it's our happiness to be a part of this faith. Never let go, brothers and sisters, never let go hold the faith that has redeemed the universe. Hold it tightly so that we can somehow be associated with all of our faithful brothers and sisters who have been able to keep the true faith unto their salvation and the salvation of all those who have followed after them. This is what we're celebrating today. Isn't it a joy to be an Orthodox Christian? Blessed feast. 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. If you are interested in other available titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot...

...org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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