The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 5 months ago

The Straight and Consecrated Life

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 have completed our PHILOCALIA project and now happily offers to our customers professional audio recordings of these sacred texts absolutely free. The PHILOCALIA is a collection of ecclesiastical writings from the fourth through fifteen centuries, devoted to inner asceticism, the purification of the heart and the acquisition of unceasing prayer. These holy writings have inspired thirsty Christians throughout the history of the church and provide time tested counsel in the quest for holiness. May God inspire us, in our pursuit of pure prayer, to listen to the PHILOCALIA. Please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trennam. In the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. You are a blessed people, dear ones, as am I. I rejoice to be able to preach in front of the relics of Saint Eugene the martyr and say nothing. Ascius the great, we have one of our altar servers standing near the relics. You may be thinking. What's father worried about? If you only knew what I was worrying about when I first came here. Father Paul, many moons ago, shared with me a grievous story of someone breaking in to the store front on Tyler and stealing one of the relics from the church. Can you imagine? Can you imagine a quicker way to ruin your soul, a shorter...

...trip to hell than that? I've never forgotten it and you may be thinking next will father. Don't you trust us? Sure, the you that I know, thank God, we have loved wonderful visitors every Sunday, and most of them are thirsty souls, beautiful people. Some are criminals, some are criminals regularly, and the stories that I know you don't want to know. So yes, I trust most of you, but I feel much better having the esteemed altar service with their sacred candles, watching the relics at all thines. I've entitled my homily this morning the consecrated life. It's not a homily on monasticism, although that would be an appropriate title certainly. It's a homily on the Christian life, on being Christian. I'd like to say a few words about the Gospel and mostly focus about this concept of consecration. What a Marvelous Gospel text this is. Today it's breath taking. Put yourself in this woman's shoes. For eighteen years she suffered an affliction. For some of you old these you can relate to that. Most of you here can't. Most of you here are under fifty years old and you have no idea what it means to suffer from an affliction for eighteen years. Eighteen days would be tough, I'm sure for many young people would have been for me, but eighteen years and not just a little affliction, an affliction that was that made life unbearable, not just physically unbearable, having to literally spend her life like this, walking everywhere like this. I mean this is hard for me right now to do for a few seconds. This was that woman's life in her own home. She couldn't relax, she couldn't lay down and take a nap,...

...she couldn't put her head up to pour a little water in the shower on her face. Can you imagine how she felt in public? No doubt she felt exactly the way that Satan wanted her to feel, which was like an animal Satan and his fallen angels despise us. The father say that it was great envy that led Satan to tempt Adam. Great Envy to look at us, fashioned in the image of God, on our feet, with our heads held high, walking on this earth, but only kind of, half connected to heaven, while walking on the earth, mediating God's presence between the scene and the unseen worlds. What an honor to be made in the image of God and to be united to Christ, and Satan can't stand it. And look what he did to this woman, bent over like an animal on virtual force. This is what he attempts to do with every person, spiritually, if not physically. He was allowed to do it in her case, and we know the reason why, so that the magnificence of our savior could be manifest. But all of those around her were living this way too, especially those who were going to criticize Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. Their souls were like this woman's body. They weren't upright people on the inside. Jesus called her, spoke to her and touched her. Get this, he called her. She did not call him. We don't know if she even knew he was there. Jesus called her. It shows the initiative of grace.

God is seeking us, Christ loves us. Jesus is about rectifying people, about healing people, about pulling them away from demonic deformities on the inside and the outside. He called her, he invited her. Then he spoke to her. He who spoke everything into existence spoke disease out of existence. Woman, you have your freedom. That's all it took. Praise be his name. You are freed. The logo said it and it was done. And then Jesus put his hands on her, he touched her, he embraced her as a symbol of the nourishment, the healing power of his own flesh. Don't we all know this? The same thing? The call from grace, the word that brings freedom, the touch that brings health. This is our life, this is what it means to be a Christian, this is what you live, this is why you're here. The woman was made straight. Her animal days were done. She was no more a creature of four. She was a human being, manifested as such, with heaven and as her orientation. That was it. She was his. What a savior. Every one of US brothers and sisters, has had this happened. Every one of us had this happened. We were called, we were recreated by his word, we were nourished by his flesh. Every one of you here in the Baptismal Font, in the sacrament of Chrismation and in the Holy Eucharist, what...

...we call the rights of initiation, that which constitutes a Christian, you had this happened to you. You became God's you became consecrated, and I want you to think a little bit about consecration with me now, especially on this day. This is a very special day. Maybe some of you have remembered, but it was ten years ago Friday, ten years ago Friday, that we were in this temple and we were witnessing a miracle. Subdeacon, could you bring me the Chrismation Wand that Metropolitan Joseph used to consecrate the church? It's by the way, the crosses are in the altar cabinets there. That day is in burned into my mind. Thank you, dear brother. It's burned into my mind. We had a stick that was twenty five feet long and on the tip of it was tied this sponge that we sulked in the sacred Chrism prior to the service that His Eminence lifted and the priests and Deacons and the Sub Deacon surrounded him and we walked through this temple, those of you who were here remember this, and he had the stick and he consecrated with sacred Chrism all the four corners of the church. It's a matter of fact we had so much Chrism in this that we saw the Chrism marks for years for maybe you still can, just above the holy Napkin, just to the right there on the back wall, on us in the side choirs, on all the altar table, we dear ones, ten years ago on the...

...third, ten years ago on the third, we consecrated this church. We breathed on that day like we had never breathed before. For us, we had fought lots of devils to get there, lots. We had gone through unbelievable trials and tribulations. We knew we would. Every founder, all founders of churches, go through them. There's nothing that the evil one despises more than people who are consecrated to Christ building sacred temples, consecrated to his glory and to his worship. Oh, he fights us, but you all did well. You persevered, you walked by faith. You wanted it too. Our founders wanted it, especially one whose name day is to day. Today's the Feast Day of Saint Sabba. Sabba was our building chairman. He oversaw the consecration of this church. He didn't just function as a building chairman from a distance. He retired from all work, and the man would never have retired, never. He retired from all works that he could be here five days a week for two years. He negotiated every single subcontract himself. That was a condition for us to hire our contractor. That's not something that layman do. Instead of the typical three bids on each sub he got ten on average. And you don't want to negotiate with Sabba, Sabba, you don't want to negotiate. Our founders thirsted for this. Nick Kiss lack died while it was in process. He wanted to see this church. He wanted it...

...so much that when he died and was buried, we had the funeral in the hall, which was our church until we built this holy temple. It was in steel. Everything was up, but they were just starting the dry wall and just starting to shut the walls and at the end of the service Sabba came up to me and he said, father, we have to take nick into the temple in his coffin, and I said yes, we'd do that's exactly what we did. We picked up nick and we walked him to this place and we sang his funeral hymns here in this holy temple, even when it wasn't completed, and then we put him in the hearse Vera. His wife got to see she got to worship in here, she got to experience life in this consecrated place where you stand. You blessed ones, many of those who were instrumental in building this church we're going to pray for today at the end of the service. They've gone from this consecrated house of God to a place better yet. You know, for the years when we weren't here, we worshiped, as with the zeal we worshiped in really cheesy places. First, the little room at cal Baptist is called the staples room, I think, or the stapleton room, something like that. It's a little room that they entertained guests in in their oldest building there near a fireplace. Then we went to Tyler and Indiana, then we went to a machine shop...

...with no windows. Then we came here. We struggled. We struggled and God supported us. We knew what it would be to build a church. We knew that it wasn't just a matter of a little more space or a little better acoustics. No, we knew that this was a matter of a holy mystery. We believed in consecration. We knew the scriptures, we knew church history. We knew that God himself had fashioned a house for himself on the Earth and the Old Testament, that he had given detailed instructions to the God seer Moses on how to build it, on how to consecrate it. He promised to dwell within it in a unique way. Some say, well, Father, God is everywhere. You're right, he is everywhere, but he has not everywhere in the same way. He dwells in special glory in consecrated churches, which were typified by the building of the Tabernacle and the Old Testament and then King David and King Solomon's Temple. You remember the consecration of the Temple? Don't do? When Solomon kneeled. It's recorded in second kings eight, and the glory of God descended upon the temple such that it filled the temple so much that the priests couldn't stand it. They were overwhelmed with the glory of God and they had to escape. They literally left the Temple and joined Solomon outside of the holy place. Because of God's dwelling, Solomon asked what we ask whenever we build the church. He asked that every prayer made in this holy place that God would open his ears, that every sorrow articulated here would be heard by God, that his eyes would remain fixed on this holy place. That singular temple in the Old Testament was a type of...

...all the churches that were to come, fashioned and consecrated by being Christ own body. This is why we consider churches like the places we worshiped, store fronts and warehouses. We considered them catechuman buildings. They were catechuman build bildings. They were not yet initiated. Even this building on December two two thousand and eleven was a Catecuban building until it was consecrated on December third two thousand and eleven. We functioned. All of us have the common priests that human beings are in the creation fashioned by God, to lead the praise of all of creation, to direct all of creation to God. That's what human beings do. That's what we're called to do. We did that. We took marble, onyx, steal stone, wood, paint, we took it all and we consecrated to God's service. We formed it, we led it to worship. This is what we did in this house when we consecrate a person, when we take a catecuman, as we hope to do soon on great Saturday, by the blessing of God and about five minutes, we're going to make our seventy three catechuman. We're going to start with John Today, as we are with our other catecumans, and we're going to prepare them for a life of consecration. What do we do? We we orient them to the east. We wash and anoint them, we chrismate them, we give them...

...a Guardian Angel, a candle, a New Light. We clothed them in radiant garments. This is what we do. It's exactly what we did to this building. It went from being a catechuman building to a consecrated house of God. We built it to the east. This is why our altars face east, so that when we pray and our hands are uplifted, we anticipate the return of Christ, who promised us. As lightning flashes from the east even to the West, so will my coming be. We anticipated every liturgy. We look for him coming. Every liturgy, facing the east, we washed an anoint at this place. If you remember, ten years ago we had to clothe our bishop in a Sodomnon, a big white linen garment to protect his vestments, because he was going to be covered with water and soap and Chrism. And we got on our hands and knees and we washed an anointed the whole holy altar. We then took sacred Chrism and and we anointed the altar itself. Then we anointed all the walls of the building. Then we put New Light on the altar. Then God appointed a Guardian Angel to stay next to the altar, which it's where it's been for the last ten years, standing and serving with us in the holy place, watching us. We treat this holy place just like we treat people who are consecrated to God. St John Chrysostom says something super beautiful about what our Church has become. He says our churches are truly frightening places, places of all filled with fear...

...because of God's presence, because of his power over life and death and because he dwells here in our church. This is our experience. One of the great saints of the Church Who Describes Church consecration it was a great fifteen century archbishop of thessaliniki named Saint Simeon. We call them Saint Simon at Thessoliniki. Was An incredible musician and a liturgist. He wrote lots of books about Liturgy and he wrote a whole book on the meaning of the temple and it's orientation, it's space, it's sacred art. Listen to his words. He says although the temple consists of worldly material it nevertheless possesses other worldly grace, for it is consecrated by the Bishop with Mystical Prayers and anointed with divine Chrism, and the whole of it is made into a house of God. We make a distinction between consecrated people and consecrated temples, we do, but never a division, and we don't imagine one without the other. They're harmonious, they go together, and this place is dear to us. That's why we love here more than we love any other place on earth. This is the Christian conviction. There's no place you love more, not even the beach, and that's saying something, not even the beach. You know, when God describe the glory of the Temple in the Old Testament to his friend, the Holy Prophet Ezekiel, he used the images of that which on earth, the Prophet...

Ezekiel loved the most. You know what he loved the most on earth? His wife, and God took the images that Ezekiel used for his wife to profound images. He called God called Ezekiel's wife the desire of your eyes and the delight of your soul. He took those images, those words and he used those exact words to describe the temple, which he was telling Ezekiel was about to be destroyed. And Ezekiel couldn't imagine it. He could not imagine that God would abandon the temple because of the faithlessness of Israel. But he did, and the way that he convinced them was that he told Ezekiel the desire of your eyes and the delight of your soul. I'm going to take I'm going to take your wife. She's going to die. He told him how many days, and he's going to say when she dies, you can't cry. It's what he told them. You can't mourn. You have to be an example for the people that I'm calling to go into exile. Many Jews didn't want to go into exile. They wanted to stay in Jerusalem because they thought God would never abandon his temple. God had called Ezekiel to go to into exile and to bring people and to help them establish their life in exile for those seventy years, and the way that he did it was through this profound witness of Ezekiel losing his own wife and yet moving on, moving on. Is that how you filled? Dear ones, I want you to feel this way. I'm telling you this because so many of you weren't here ten years ago. You didn't have the experience. You came to a consecrated place. I want you to know what value it holds. I want you to know what was in the mind of our founders, because if you have...

...this in your mind, you'll be consecrated and you'll treat this place the way it should be treated. You'll come in with reverence. You'll come in with silence. You'll also come in with anticipation. You'll come in expecting to meet God, to be changed, to be saved, to be transformed like that woman was, from bent over on the Earth, which is how we live off the half the time out there, isn't it? It's constantly drumming us be concerned with earthly things, be concerned with earthly things, be concerned with earthly things until you come here and the Lord grabs you and, like he did to the woman, he lifts you up, he makes you a human being again. He gives you heavenly aspirations, he gives You a vision for your future. This is why I want you to know it. This is why I want you to feel the way that our founders felt and why they did what they did. This place was built by prophetic inspiration, as all churches are. The Great Haggi and Habakuk and Zeph and IAH, they convinced the people of God who had come back from exile to rebuild the temple. They convinced them by their prophesying. They preach the word of God to them and it gave people inspiration to do what they needed to do to put the worship of God first, because that's what a consecrated person does. Consecrated person with a consecrated heart represents God in the world and Love's worship and loves to be near God. You know, when God gave the details on how to make the vestments for Moses and the priests, I mean details. There is more substance, there is more text of God telling his people how to make...

...vestments, how to make incense, how to make thee olive oil for the lamps. Then the entire if you put that material together, it's longer than the entire epistle to Roment to the Romans. It's a massive amount of material. Why would God do that? Obviously he cared. Obviously he cared when he was telling them how to make the vestments. Moses ask them why? Why this investment? Why this effort? And God said two things, for glory and for beauty. For Glory and for beauty, those things matter to God. Glory and beauty. They change us, they wash us, they elevate us, they save us. This is our future and every time and you come in here. You should think about that, dear one. You should think about your fear of the beauty of this temple is a small thing compared to the glory and the beauty which is awaiting you in the future your this is what your future holds. It is the most beautiful place on earth. There's nothing like it in any of our world, our Riverside County world. There's nothing like it and it's only getting more beautiful, especially as we change and as our faces and our hearts fit better in this temple, because the temple is constantly calling us. It's constantly calling us to this life. It's the best we had to offer to God and we're going to try to keep giving him our best. But it's nothing compared to what's coming. You know, this week I was in my room and president therea was in there and she was putting some clothes or way and she opened up her arm wall and on the inside of the left door and on the inside of the right...

...door were nothing but pictures that are little kids had drawn over the years that she wanted to look at every single time she got dressed. They're also all over the refrigerator, by the way, and if you come into my office, there's a portion of one wall where they're all they are all over you know how it is, you parents and your grandparents. We are deeply moved by the artistic efforts of our young people, especially the wee ones. My spiritual father told me, after all of our effort, after the greatest work that we have done, like here, using the best that the hat the earth has to offer and offering every penny that we possibly could to make this the most beautiful place, he goes still to God. He treats it like refrigerator art. Yes, some of you may remember when Father John Bethancourt was here many moons ago and shared that that idea with us. Such a beautiful thing. Consecration, dear ones, auditory beauty, visual beauty or factory beauty, overwhelmed by the presence of God. This is what it is. This is where we're going. It's a life of consecration, a straitened life, not a bent life, not an animal life, not a life that wants to find its satisfaction in the things of the world, which is so shallow. We're so blessed when we pray in a few minutes at the end of the liturgy for the souls of all of these beautiful brothers and sisters who have gone before us. Let's do so with real grat stitude, with tremendous appreciation. I miss their voices, I miss their faces, I miss their radiant...

...witness and hearing their stories. But they're calling us to follow. Now it's us, now, it's you. Ten years on, ten years on, what's next? What's next? God will show us and will all lead to his praise. On then. 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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