The Arena
The Arena

Episode 561 · 10 months ago

The Sign of the Cross


The Arena Podcast is the flagship of Patristic Nectar Publications and contains the Sunday Sermons and other theological reflections by Father Josiah Trenham delivered from the ambon of St. Andrew Church in Riverside, California and begun in 2010. Currently there are more than 550 sermons and lectures covering ten years worth of preaching through the liturgical calendar.

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present a seven lecture series by Reverend Doctor Kalinique Burgher, entitled the Divine Identity of Christ. The highly esteemed Hiero monk scholar, father Kalinique sets forth the majestic and high Christology of the early church. In these lectures, Father Kaliginique refutes the secular criticisms of Orthodox Christology and reveals that Jesus himself taught his divine identity to his disciples, that the early church both honored and preached this High Christology and that this Christology is codified in the pages of the New Testament and the nicene creed. Along the way, he also reveals the vacuous secular quest for the historical Jesus, unpacks the historical theological witness about Jesus in the pre Nicene Church, through NICEA ephesus and to the fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon. Here is a feast of Faith for Christians, sure to illumine our hearts and minds concerning the deity of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ. For these and other titles. Please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenum, the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. A blessed Lord's they to all of you, brothers and sisters. My heart is refreshed to see the precious cross, as I hope yours is, and to breathe the fragrance of the love of God in the middle of this lent. On the Sundays when we bear the cross in procession and we bring her out, my mind is always fixed on a passage from St Paul that I love so much. It's in his epistle to the Ephesians, in chapter three he writes this. For this reason, I bow my niece before the father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power through his spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. What a text. But at I think of that text when the cross comes out, because it describes the for extremities of the Cross as the expression of the love of God. Note in that text pulse Trinitarian reference. This this opening of a door into his own personal prayer. He's writing to the church and de Fesians, but he's telling them the things he says to God in his corner. You're getting a window into the heart of the apostle. You're finding out what a true pastor of pastors really thinks, what he's really shooting for. He says. Note that the initial trinitarian reference, he bows before the father, praying that your inner man might be strengthened by the Holy Spirit so that Christ might dwell in your heart. And then note to what end? He prays first that...

...we might be rooted and grounded in love. This is the goal of the pastorate, this is the goal of the Apostolic Office and their successors to help the people of God literally root themselves in the love of God, to ground their life in the love of God. Such that the love of God becomes the explanation for why you think the way you think, why you speak the way you speak, why you act the way you act. This is what Paul was seeking for, that we might be rooted and grounded in love and then, secondly, that we might comprehend, with all the saints, the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. This is number two. Then you might be grooted, rooted and grounded in love and that you actually might be able to comprehend the incomprehensible. Then you might have a growing appreciation for what God has actually done for you, how he actually feels about you. Many of you have heard me quote over the years the council, the Great Council, of St Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, who was a master confessor and a teacher of confessors and he wrote a mad magisterial book, the Exomolu Gutarian, the manual of confession for priests, and he says in that book, besides all the details of how to discern that kind of passion and this kind of sin and what to do or say to heal this particular spiritual pathology or that, he says right in the middle of the book. The whole goal, the whole logic behind the spiritual science of hearing confessions and providing spiritual counsel is for the confessor to convince the confess that they are loved by God more than they will ever know. Number one goal. Nothing drives reform in our lives, then the love of God in our life and wanting to return to him something better, something better than we are. This is Paul's goal, saying Nicodemus got it from him. Paul, praise to the Holy Trinity, that we might be rooted and grounded in love, so that love becomes the explanation for all that we do, that we might be able to comprehend with all of the saints, because that's what the saints are comprehending now, that's what will be comprehending for eternity. That is the stuff of eternity, growing in the knowledge of God forever, understanding his love more and more forever. And then, lastly, that you might be filled up to all the fullness of God. That's salvation. That salvation, it's not just the forgiveness of sins to dear ones thank God for that being filled up to all the fullness of God. Today, day, after three weeks, we're right today in the dead center of the Great Fast. Lent is halved. Today, and after these first three weeks of struggle, we have experienced a very personal and intimate reminder of just how ridiculous and pathetic we are. You know it. Yesterday I was giving a lecture down... our sister Church, Saint Anthony and San Diego, for their Annunciation team. Their ladies were having their annunciation to you. Was a great joy for me and I was sitting in the front row and being, you know, introduced, you know, and they were saying those words that you do when you introduced speakers, and I endured it and then I got up to the podium and I said to the wonderful woman who introduced me, who I've known for many years. I taught her children had done it university of Saint Catherine for years. I said that was the most ridiculous introduction I have ever heard as because I just read, you know, your secretary gave it to me. I said in your my secretary's the best, is no question about that. Nevertheless, that is the most ridiculous introduction that I've ever heard in my entire life, and we all know it. We're brought to our senses by the middle part of lent. Really we're brought to reality. Our feet are on the ground. Whatever concepts we have about the great things we're going to accomplish by our resolve in the weeks of lent, they've all been left aside. We found out that those bad habits are batter than we thought and their root in US is apparently deeper than we thought, and they don't take to being opposed as kindly as we thought. We've been humbled. Everybody who launches into lent learns this immediately. We become deeply humbled. In fact, if you don't have that sense by this point, it's probably because you really haven't tried to change your life at all during land. If you don't have that sense of being a complete mess and a catastrophe, let me help you feel that way now. Let me help you, because we're all losers. You know that. We're all losers in the game of holiness, in the challenge of perfection and giving God what he deserves. We're all losers and if you don't feel like a loser. That just shows that you're the biggest loser of all and you didn't really try. You must not have really tried, because if you had tried sincerely, you'd be feeling like that. So that makes you also feeling bad right now. Me Having said that, which means we're all together in this. We're all united together, which is why we're on our faces before the Holy Cross, before Thy Cross, we bow down. We've learned again that if our salvation depends on us, there is no salvation. If we think that by our will power we're going to climb the ladder of divine assent and reach the Kingdom of God, or fooling ourselves. No, there's one reason that we've been saved, and that's because the love of God has made it so through the cross of his beloved son. This is our hope, this is our joy, this is our salvation and this is the love that Paul wanted every one to know, to be rooted and grounded in, to know its height and its depth, its breadth and its length. Today, consolation from heaven has come. I want you to think about the cross in those four extremities. Think of the breadth of the cross, the fact that it embraces every type of person, every culture, every nation, every language. The Cross is for every person from every land and it envelops them all, every family, tribe and nation. Think of the length of the cross. It's the salvation of every human being who has ever lived. It was foreshadowed from the very beginning. Just after eve had fallen,...

God prophesied and told her that from her seed would come one who would crush the head of the serpent. He would bite his heel, but his foot would cruss the serpent's head. This was a prophecy of the coming of the cross, what's often called in theology the Proto Evangelium, the first announcement of the good news. God didn't wait a moment after we had fallen into our misery. He told Eve herself that her seed would be wounded, but he would have the victory. He would crush the devil. Now the cross is extremely long from covering the sins of human beings from the beginning and to the end of time, every person who has ever is living and ever will live, all their sins washed away by the blood of Christ. Think of the depth of the cross. The Cross is the revelation of how low God has been willing to go to save us. The uncreated bowed down to the creature and joined together what was thought to be impossible and impossible union. No one thought the uncreated and the created could relate, let alone become one in a single person, which is exactly what Jesus, our Savior, accomplished. He bowed so low that he took created human in nature and joined it to himself, without confusing it with his divinity, binding both and becoming the theanthropost the God man in our midst. And as if that wasn't low enough, as if his divine incarnation wasn't the measure of his love, he went further. He dug deeper, humbling himself to be suffering unto the death on the Cross and even descending under the earth into the nethermost portions of Hades, that he might save everyone. Wherever Satan took a person, that's where Christ went. That's how deep his love is. That's the extremity of the Cross, downward. And then look at the height of the Cross. The Cross is also the revelation of how high God has willed to bring us. By the Cross, our sins are washed away. The ancient curse has been destroyed like a divine face cloth used by the hand of God. Every tier of our eyes have been wiped away, every fear nullified, the power of death has been swallowed up. A host of demons has been driven back and there, on the precious cross, our savior used the cross as a quill and, in the red ink of royalty, with bloody fingers, signed our absolution from sin. And there he who knew no sin, became sin on our behalf, in order that in him we might be made the righteousness of God. Their Christ are, God voluntarily placed himself as our sacrifice, fixing a nail into the heart of hell, piercing it suddenly with his cross like a wooden spear, tearing its belly apart, making it writhe in anguish and it's personified spirit tremble and, on the third day, making it vomit forth those it had held in its power from time immemorial. This is what we say today. That's just a collection of phrases from the hymnity of this feast. Released from Satan's power and all attachment to sin and darkness were joined to Christ and elevated in his ascension to the right hand of God, not just being delivered from hell back to Earth for a retry. No, being taken even from Earth up through the heavens and planted with him at the right hand of his father.

This is how high it goes. St Paul says we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places. That's how high the cross takes us. You know, all of us. We have our ways to every time we see each other. We have our ways to show our love. Maybe it's an embrace. That's very common for us. I love that about California myself. There's many other places in this country, in this wonderful country, where much more reserve is shown. If you go back to Pennsylvania, you can't just be your normal California self. It's a little bit too touchy feely, a little bit too touchy feely, but it's something I love. I we have a lot of vices, there's no doubt, but our willingness to embrace even a stranger, even a stranger, I think is a marvelous and a wonderful thing. We have our ways. For we in the church. It's an embrace, it's a kiss, it's a gaze in each other's eyes. It's a Metania, it's beautiful words. We save these things as expressions to communicate our love for one another, our commitment to one another. We do this all the time. This and this is God's embrace of us, this is God's infolding us in his love. You know, Saint John of Kranstadt, who's there on the pillar just next to Saint Andrew, died in nineteen o seven and, as much as saints die, he said so many beautiful things about the cross. One of them really impacted me in this context of seeing it as God's embrace of us, as seeing it as that that act to envelop us in his love. These are his words. He says the cross cannot be thought of or imagined without love. Where the Cross is, there is love. In the Church you see crosses everywhere and they remind you that you are in the Temple of the God of love, in the Temple of the love crucified for us. In the cross, like light in the Sun, is concentrated the love of God Almighty. Did you hear that? Like light is concentrated in the sun, the love of God is concentrated in the Cross. When you gaze at the sun and you feel the warmth of the sun and you praise God for that. That is the same thing that should happen to you when you look at the cross, when you stand and gaze at the cross, you should feel the radiance it is proclaiming to you the love of God in the Cross is the whole power of love. And when you make the sign of the cross, believe and always remember that your sins are nailed to the cross. When you sin, Judge Yourself at once and Cross yourself saying, oh Lord, our sins are nailed to that cross. Nail to it my sins also, and have mercy on me, and your sins will be forgiven you. I want to end by an encouragement to you, especially the young ones, who maybe heaven ever understood why we make the cross the way we do. When we make that sacred sign, we're making...

...the gesture of love. We're communicating something unbelievably important. We hold our three fingers together like this to remember God, which is the root of every good thing. Is The remembrance of God. This is first father, son and Holy Spirit. When we have our two fingers here on our single hand, we remember Christ, God and Man, one person into natures. When we make this initial movement, we do it with our right hand for a reason. Even if you're left handed, the Church teaches you to make the cross with your right hand. You Ever Seen Deacon Sensing with their left hand? Even if they're left handed? They trained themselves to sense with the right hand, because the right hand is seedingly important. It's the place of power, it's the place of authority in Heaven and it's where Christ is. We use our right hand because we remember, as we go to bless ourselves, that the one who died for us is at the right hand of his father. His love is not weak, his lover, his love can accomplish whatever he wants, which is far more good for us than we want for ourselves. This is why we use the right hand. We make our motion from here downward. The first movement is a remembrance of the descent of God, that though he is at the right hand of the father, yet he humbled himself. He came down to be with us. And then we finished the cross from the right to the left to remember that that love drives all evil out of our life. It pushes it the devil, all of his works, all of his pomp, all of his angels, all of his service, all of his bride by the power of the Cross and the love of God. In our life it's being removed. The devil is on the left with the goats, the faithful, the righteous, or on the right, and the cross removes it all from our life. This is God's embrace for us, dear ones. Make the Cross and be at peace. This is the council of the Church. Make the Cross and be at peace. He could teach you more than any one. Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony the great, was absolutely assaulted by every possible monster, hideous apparition threatening to consume him, and he learned that by making the simple of cross and calling on the name of Jesus Christ, he would cause the the demons to erupt inflame and to screech in terror. All end with a beautiful quote from Saint John Chrysostom. These are his words to the catechumens of his parish. He says the words which you utter here are registered in Heaven and the agreement that you make by your tongue abides indelibly with the master God, the angels who are standing by and the invisible powers rejoice at your conversion. They received the words from your tongues and they carry them up to the common master of all things. There they are inscribed in the books of Heaven. The priest anoints you on the forehead and he puts on you the sign of the Cross, in order that the enemy may turn away his eyes, for he does not dare to look... in the face when he sees the lightning flash which leaps from it and blinds his eyes by the Cross. This is the the power of the sign of the cross, dear ones, and it set forth before you to show you how truly rooded and grounded in love your faith is. Clortygo we hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by patristic nectar publications, a non profit 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 W W W dot patristic nectar dot org.

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