The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 2 years ago

Theophany Radiance - Sunday after Theophany 2021


If you are interested in other available titles, or if you would like more information on Patristic Nectar Publications, please visit our website at

Help promote The Arena by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. This helps us others discover the podcast.


Good Deeds: Cultivating a Life of Virtue 

Now available on Audible! Sermons on the Spiritual Life by St. Philaret of Moscow

Help us professionally record the Philokalia! Donate by visiting the link below.


Patristic Nectar Youtube 

Patristic Nectar Instagram

Patristic Nectar Facebook

Patristic Nectar Twitter


1) Spread the Word - tell your family and friends about Patristic Nectar. Share Patristic Nectar website links to content you have enjoyed. A personal invitation is the number one way the Church grows. Tell a friend to "Come and see!"

2) Make a Donation -Patristic Nectar is a small non-profit ministry with a big vision for expanding access to Patristic Orthodox teaching throughout the world. Since our establishment in 2010, we have made steady progress but there is so much more we could do. With funding, we can work to make our ministry vision a reality.

3) Pray For Us - remember us in your prayers, asking that the Lord strengthen, help, and direct us according to His divine will.

Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present good deeds cultivating a life of virtue, a seven part lecture series. These lectures expound the place of good works in the salvation of the Christian the nature of virtues and vices and the traditional means for cultivating virtue in the Christian life. Saint John of Damascus, in his text on the virtues and the vices in the Philocalia, writes that every man is said to be made in the likeness of God as regards his imitation of God through virtues and God like actions. The study and cultivation of virtue is the quest both to love God and also to become a true human being. The lecture titles include Lecture One, good deeds, understanding virtues and vices. Lecture two, the Cardinal Virtue of Justice, Lecture Three, the Cardinal Virtue of wisdom. Lecture for, the Cardinal Virtue of courage, Lecture Five, the cardinal virtue of temperance. Lecture six, conquering the seven deadly sins. Lecture seven, after God, the failure of the secular ethic. For these and other available titles, please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenna, the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. Days of joy and peace and rejoicing, beautiful days we've been celebrating, brothers and sister, since the Nativity of our savior. We celebrated that from December twenty five through the end of December. Then we commemorated his beautiful circumcision and the preciousness of his name. Then we prepared for Theophany and we've been celebrating theophany now this is they what? Five? Or is it six, six, seven, eight, ninety ten five? The Movement from Nativity to Theophany is one of happiness to greater happiness, one of glory to greater glory, radiance of the birth of the son of God to a gradier radiance in which the light is exposed. Christmas as glorious as it is, and...'s beyond our understanding how the son of God would humble himself to become a man and to be born of the Virgin. Nonetheless, it took place in a dark cave, in a mystery. A few people witnessed it. Today we celebrate the manifestation of Christ, the son of God. Indeed, we commemorate the manifestation of the Holy Trinity. For this father spoke and the Holy Spirit descended on the river banks of the Jordan. This was to the whole world, no more in the dark, obscure places of Bethlehem, now before thousands who would then take the message of the manifestation of God his self, revelation to men, to the whole world. Theophany is, despite the fact that it's so neglected, theophany is a majestic feast, one of the most incredible saving acts of our Savior. I'm so proud. I'm so proud out of you for honoring theophany. Church was full for the Feast of Theophany. That hasn't always been the case. I trust it is the representation of a new piety that will remain. But many, many years of my priesthood I've been sad and had to keep back tears from celebrating theophany so many comfort Christmas. But we don't have the same consciousness, the same support. We have no cultural support for the celebration of theophany. In fact, the vast majority of Christians don't celebrate theophany at all. They have no idea the incredible significance of Jesus's baptism, what his baptism means. Brothers and sisters, think of all of the things that theophany accomplished. When Christ went under the waters, he drowned the Old Adam. He brought him low. When he was raised from the waters, he bore the whole world up into a newness of life. When Christ went into the waters, he didn't go into the waters because he needed something. Like we go in the waters, we yearned to go in the water to receive. Jesus yearned to go in the waters to give. And by going into the waters he sanctified the waters. And through the waters he opened the womb of the church so that innumerable men and women and children all over the world could be born again, could become new, could...

...have a new principle in their life, which was God, in them becoming sons and daughters of God through the font. There's an incredible parallel between the sorrow of the children who were slaughtered at the time of Christ by that wicked Herod and the happiness brought to the children that we can't count, when Jesus entered into the waters of the Jordan and the Holy Spirit descended and the birth of Christian baptism took place. For what is Christian baptism except the priest and the people standing before water and supplicating God to come to be with us, to send his Holy Spirit upon this water, within this water, so that it becomes a labor of regeneration, a place where people are made new, where a new relationship and a new principle as given to them of life. Theophany is simply radiant. We need the sunglasses on when we're standing on the River Jordan. There's so much glory. This is what theophany has accomplished for us. Light does three things. I want to suggest that this feast of Lights, as Theophany is called, this feast of Light, this Feast of blinding revelation of God, where the Holy Trinity is made manifest two men tangibly. You know, we didn't come to a confession of the Holy Trinity because we're smart. We didn't figure God out. We didn't, you know, study philosophy and logic and then write some books and come to the conclusion. Is God, the Holy Trinity. That is not how we came to confess the true God. We came to confess God by his revelation of himself to us on the banks of the Jordan River. If you were there, if you are part of that humble mass, you would have heard God speak, you would have seen his son be baptized and you would have seen the Holy Spirit, as a dove, descend and all on Christ and remained there. And then you would know that the one God has a son and a spirit. There it is by experience. Our forefathers have passed this on to us in the church, because the light is past as you see, every Pasca, from one hand to another, from one generation to another. Light, the light of this feast, does three things. It illumines us. It...

...causes beautiful things to grow and blossom. The second thing it does is it exposes darkness, and the third is that it exposes that darkness within us so that it can be transformed into light. Let me mention a little word about each of those three functions. Theophany and the celebration of this feast, Brothers and sisters, and the light which has been manifested from God to us, has lit us up it has brought a knowledge of the purpose of life, a knowledge of who God is, who we are, what the path of salvation is. This is what's been given to us. This is our patrimony, this is our true inheritance, where people who know we're people who walk the way. That was the first thing we were ever called in the Gospels, in the acts of the apostles. Church was called the way. This is what light does, just like the roses outside and the beautiful trees. They received the light and they blossom forth, and that's what happens to us. Saint Gregory of of the theologian, Saint Gregor the theologian, the great father, Cappadocian father and great teacher of the Holy Trinity. One of his most famous texts is his oration number thirty nine, on this feast on Theophany, and he says that on This Day, light enables us to become ourselves deiform. In fact, he says these beautiful words, three words. Make yourselves deiform, be conformed by the light into the image of Christ. You heard it in the text today, in the epistle. God has given us the Church and all of her mysteries and all of her gifts, for one purpose, so that you might serve him and become a mature human being according to the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is what's happening to us. The light of God's working in us is getting rid of the darkness and it's causing to blossom all sorts of good things, love and joy and peace and forgiveness and intrift in others and a desire to worship God. All of these things come from his light that were celebrating on this day. This is what light does. It causes to grow. Your calling is to embrace the light, to let it have its way, to put forth the fruit, to become deiform. The second thing light does is it exposes darkness. You know in this oration that Saint Gregory the theologian gave a ration thirty nine. He spends the first one third, it's a long, twenty page hummeling.

He spends the first one third of his teaching on theophany exposing the inadequacy of the Jewish rites. He points out that those who saw God in the Old Testament, even the pious, when they saw God when there was a Theophane, were absolutely terror struck. Think of the people with Moses at the base of Mount Sinai and God appears and they say to Moses, Moses, you go up the mountain, we're just going to stay here. Think of Manoah when he saw God and he turns to his wife and he says, sweetheart, we're going to die because we have seen the Lord. Think of even the Great Prophet Daniel, who was a god lover and an ascetic, yet when he saw the Lord, when he saw glory, was completely undone and was sick for three weeks, on the verge of death. Gregory points out. Now, now in Christ, with the showers of grace, God appears and man doesn't die, man truly lives, man is purified, man is strengthened, men reflects the glory he has, the image restored in him in Christ. This feast exposes darkness and Gregory spends a lot of time talking about it. We no longer are dependent on the Jewish feast and their sprinklings and their baptismal types, which didn't do anything. Then he turns his attention from the inadequacy of the Jewish rights to the vanity and the worthlessness of the Greek gods and their myths and all of their rituals and he goes one by one. He starts with Zeus and he goes through all of the common gods and Goddesses of his people, of the Greco Roman people of his time, mid fourth century, and all the rituals that are involved in great detail, including the orgastic rituals involved with aphrodities worship. He goes through each one and mocks them, pointing the out that all of these mythologies simply exist to provide some sort of ultimate cover for an immoral life. Oh, I act this way and I do these things will because this God or that God did it. He says. What does this have to do with dignity? What does this have to do with salvation? Nothing. Theophany has exposed the darkness of Paganism, and it's natural. That's what light does. There's no way you can have light without exposing the darkness. This is why, when Christ says to us, you are the light of the world, that's a twofold charge one.

You have to bring the truth and in the process you have to expose the darkness. We do it with humility because we know that, apart from Christ, our light, we are darkness, we are darkness and the difference between those who are living in nonsense like our culture is literally drowning is. I know I don't even have to say much about this. You have the pain in your heart with what's happening in our land. You have the sorrow you see so many beloved people having their lives turned upside down by believing in utter, total nonsense that has no root in truth and nothing to do with God. Our task is to expose it. We can't just run away, brothers and sisters. You can't abandon those that you love. You can't abandon a land that you love. Not If you have the light, you have to hold it up. You have to help people find it. Sometimes that takes listening very carefully to them and thinking very hard about what our culture is saying, developing some articulate response, articulate enough to help your friends, families, coworkers and friends and relatives who are listening to this. We all have them. So many. Look how quickly things are changing, how many are being swallowed up by the secular lie. This feast is the solution for that. Light exposes darkness. And the third point I want to make about light is that it exposes darkness also in us. In us. At the end of his oration thirty nine on theophany saying, gregory the theologian says he turns his attention. Remember he was patriarch of Constantinople. He turned his attention to the many catechumans who were there, and I'd like to turn my attention also to our catechumans. And of course it applies to all of us what I'm going to say. In order to let light, the light of Christ, have its way, in order to blossom and grow and to expose darkness, we have to start on the inside. For us, the darkness we should most be concerned about is not the darkness that's out there, it's the darkness that's in here. It's not the errors that are out there, it's the errors that are in here, and the light of Christ brings to pass a cleansing on the inside. This is why you just heard from Matthew. For in the Gospel that as soon as Jesus was baptized, as soon as the...

...light was revealed to the world, what did he do? He preached repentance, for the forgiveness of sins. Repent what the first word out of his mouth they give the Kingdom of God's here saying. Gregory points this out to the catechumens. He says, look, if you want to have the light of Christ, all the catechumens are preparing for baptism and this parish and in all the parishes of the world where there are catecumans, throughout all this time. And Gregory says, look, don't make the mistake of being interested and distracted by things that are not worth your consideration. When you're a Catechumen, have your whole focus on this. That what you need most at this time. Christ is providing a model for all of Jesus is teaching all of his miracles, all of his signs, happened after his baptism. You can study the gospels from beginning to end, looking for something that Jesus did, miracles that he performed, teachings that he gave prior to his baptism. You will be looking in vain. He instead, he came to baptism and he came with incredible humility. He put himself under his own servant, John The baptist. John was not happy, but Jesus told him put aside your concerns. This is the way that God's righteousness will be fulfilled. This must be done. Baptize me. Sat Greg returns his attention to the catechumens says, look, don't open your mouth, focus on your baptism, learn to be humble, put your confidence in Christ, prepare to be washed and make sure that you mean business so that what was a part of your past, which you yourself are escaping by the grace of God, doesn't continue into the church. Do you know that that common saying that we all we all have our baggage? That's saying we all have our baggage, right, which is true? Which is true, we do. But there's baggage that we have that we're holding on to, that we can let go of. There's other parts of baggage we don't even see and it comes out later and we have to go oh, that needs to be discarded and we can discard it. But the word to the CATECHUMANS is leave your baggage at the door. Do not bring your baggage into this parish. Focus on Jesus's words, on repentance, prepare for baptism, don't become anyone's teacher. If Jesus refused to be anyone's teacher until he humbled himself in the waters of the Jordan for baptism. How much...

...less should we ever presume that until we are something Gregory said. If you want to help someone, help yourself. If you want to light someone up, become light. If you want to heal someone, become healed, because no sick man makes another sick man well. This is the way to do it. This is the way to do it. Follow Christ. I'll end with this word from the Prophet Isaiah. When we were blessing the waters such a beautiful occasion, twice, once on the fifth and once on the sixth, we read both on both of the great sanctifications, three different passages from the Prophet Isaiah. And Isaiah makes this incredible prophecy, six hundred years before it takes place, about theophany. He says, let the deserts break forth with streams of water, let the redeemed draw from the wells of salvation the water of life, for there in the desert will appear the way of holiness and the saints will walk in it. This is the fruit of Theophany, brothers and sisters, and this is the conclusion of light coming into our life. Christ baptized us today. He opened heaven for us so that we could stand in the presence of God and not be destroyed. He sent the Holy Spirit to us to give us peace and joy. He gave us his light and the knowledge of him and his father and his Holy Spirit, so that we ourselves can become light and we can shared this life. We have a road set before us in the desert of this life. It's called the way of holiness according to Isaiah, and the saints enjoy are to walk on it. May that be our our calling, may that be our focus together, and God bless us all, especially you. catechumens. Were anxious and thirsty to receive you into the church and to see you become the light of God busted 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.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (592)