The Arena
The Arena

Episode 1 · 10 months ago

What Bishops and Priests Can Do About Abortion

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 present theological foundations God, man and the world in Genesis one through three a ten lecture series. The opening chapters of the Holy Bible provide the fundamental elements of the Christian World View. There we learn about the one true God, the human being fashioned in God's image and God's meaning infused creation. These texts, which have always formed a central element in the Church's catechetical ministry, present the most important of Christian convictions. These chapters are particularly relevant today, as secularism has suppressed these essential truths from the Western mind and priests can no longer assume that these basic theological affirmations are believed by those coming to the church or raised in the church. These lectures are presented as an aid in the formation of catechumens and as an effort to set forth the transcendent beauty of the glory of God, of the human being and of God's magnificent world. For these and other available titles, visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trennam. The name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. A blessed Lord's Day to all of you, brothers and sisters. Thank you. I prepared a homily for you, but listening to that incredible epistle again and then the gospel text, I I have two other homilies in mind. To listen to St Paul, at the end of his life, after he had accomplished such sacrificial ministry, say that he was the chief of sinners, the protos amongst all sinners. Is Truly amazing what power the Christian faith holds to bring forth humility. You know, the saint say that we should look for ourselves in the epistles and the Gospel readings. We should never disagree with the Holy Apostle, except about one thing. Who the PROTOS is. That's the only thing we should ever disagree with St Paul About. We should say, well, maybe the reason he wrote that is because I hadn't been born yet and you hadn't been born yet. Also, listening to that beautiful gospel of the healing of the blind man, it's not hard to find ourselves there, is it, in our blindness and in the light that Christ has given to us. And that theme of our blindness and Christ light. Is what I want to use as a springboard to give you my homily today, on this Sunday of the sanctity of life, this Sunday in the latter part of January when we always raise our prayer and champion the preciousness of all human life. I've entitled my homily today what Bishops and priests can do about abortion. What bishops and priests can do about abortion. Praying and working for the end of abortion has occupied a significant part of my life since one thousand nine hundred and ninety two. That's thirty years this...

...year. I finished seminary in nineteen ninety two and I returned to Santa Barbara and I was ordained upon my return at twenty four years of age as a reformed episcopal clergyman, and I began to regularly pray for the end of abortion. I began to lead prayer vigils at the planned parenthood that was very close to my house in downtown Centa Barbara. I began to write articles to the local news press and a barber news press on the subject. President there AH Catherine was and remains even more zealous than I. on behalf of the unborn. When I would go to work, she would take her stroller out and put my too oldest son's chat and aid and now thirty two and thirty, put them in a little stroller and she would go for her walk, but her walk would be to planned parenthood. She would go there and pray and ask the boys to pray, confident in their prayers. Especially, she would talk to any woman, women who would talk to her as they came and went, and from then until now she hasn't stopped doing this. Some things have changed. Now she goes with her grown children and her grand babies, but the same movement, the same action. When I was received into Holy Orthodoxy and subsequently ordained to the priestood one thousand nine hundred and ninety three, I spoke with His grace, Bishop Basil, who ordained me and receive me into the church, on his first visit to our home, about our work, our pro life work, and he greatly encouraged me in my pro life labors. In fact, he has been a champion of the unborn my whole life, my whole time as his spiritual son. I started an Orthodox Christian for Life Chapter in Santa Barbara that both provided catechism on pro life issues, organized prayer both in the Church and in public and supported the many vibrant pro life charities that existed at the time in Santa Barbara. When the late Metropolitan Philip, God rest his soul, appointed me pastor here at St Andrew in Nineteen Ninety Eight, we started a local Orthodox Christians for life chapter here in the parish, began to pray and Sidewalk Council at the Riverside Planned Parenthood to support our local riverside life services financially and at their annual banquet. And after the West Coast Walk for life in San Francisco began in two thousand and five, we started taking large groups of our parishioners up to San Francisco to make a week end of it. We were encouraged by Father Aires Metrochis, a great zealot for the pro life cause also in the pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church there on Brotherhood way in San Francisco, and he graciously, and I'm sure against all the advice of all the lawyers that he may have in his parish, invited us to make his Jim and recreation center our home for the week end and we camp there. Year after year, we would have service with father heiress and pray for the unborn in the Saturday morning liturgy. We then go together to the walk for life. We would end up for vigil at the row core new cathedral there on Geary Street, to venerate the relics of St John of San Francisco. They will graciously allowed us to have English liturgy the next morning and we would do sometimes we would participate in the students for life conference going on at the Catholic cathedral on that weekend. Sometimes we would hold our own conference. This is what we've done together. We've tried. We've tried to live our pro life tenants, the pro left, pro life tenants of the Holy Orthodox Church, and to flesh out in some practical ways our love for the unborn and our great desire to return our land...

...once again to sanity with regards to abortion. I sincerely hope that our love for the unborn and for women who are in crisis pregnancies will grow and that the future, if there is a future, we'll see St Andrew Parrish doing more for the pro life cause. This is what I hope this morning, on the occasion of sanctity of life Sunday and when hundreds of thousands of Americans have been out in public praying and walking on behalf of the unborn. It started last weekend and it continued this weekend, raising their voices in behalf of the rights of children in the womb. On this occasion, I want to offer some reflections about what I think bishops and priests could do to end legal abortion in our land. Yes, dear ones, yes, I think it's possible. I think it may even be near. I have never been so optimistic concerning this as I am today, both because of the radical increase in pro life commitment and sentiment among the young. They simply are no longer buying the pro abortion propaganda of their grandparents generation and their parents generation. They've heard it, they don't believe it, and also because the unconstitutional foundations of Roe versus weight are shaking and are very close to collapsing. So please allow me to set forth twenty things, twenty things that bishops and priests can do about abortion. I set these things forth as matters for bishops and priests, but in a derivative way, in a collaborative way. They affect you and all Christians and even those who are not practicing Christians but want to see the end of the killing in our land. The hierarchs and we priests are called by Christ to be models of Christian faith and devotion. I bow low for my failures in that before you these many years, and you know how much I'm depending on your prayers not to make a greater mess of my priesthood than I have made on occasion. But this is our calling. This is what God expects as that his bishops and priests be a model of Christian faith and devotion to the faithful. This is what we are struggling to be, and if we can model a Christian disposition towards abortion, then you, the faithful, can imitate us in doing the same, as Saint Paul says to the Corinthians, follow me as I follow Christ. Here's my twenty one. Let the truth about abortion occupy a constant place in our hearts and minds. There is no moral difference between killing innocent babies and killing other innocent people. In Two thousand and twenty, the last year that we have firm Stats, eight hundred and ninety three thousand abortions were performed in the United States, and that does not account for the incredibly growing number of abortions through a board of facient contraception and the morning after pill. And that is conservative. Therefore, conservatively, two thousand, four hundred and forty six children are aborted every single day in the United States. One hundred and one children are killed every single hour in the United States. Two children, almost two children, are killed every minute...

...of every hour of every day throughout the year. The war on unborn children is the greatest and most awful war that the earth has ever witnessed. We bishops and priests can allow the truth about abortion to occupy the proper gravity in our hearts and minds. Just imagine if eight hundred and ninety three thousand twelve year olds were murdered every year in our nation. Would we just dedicate one Sunday a year to talking about it? How preposterous. HOW CONCERNED WOULD WE BE? How active would we be to end the killing? This is where we must start. We must personally visit the abortuaries in our dioceses and parises. We bishops and priests must stand in front of the plan earhood death centers and allow the truth to set in. This is number one and the most important by far. Face the truth. Number two, we can ask our people to get involved in a serious way. Bishops can ask their priests, every one of them, and there are more than twozero priests in America. Bishops can ask their priests to get involved. They can communicate to their clergy that they expect that they will be involved, that it will be a part of their ministry. Every priest can assume that a basic component of his priestly ministry is pro life work. Every priest then can ask his people to get involved so that every parishioner can assume that parish pro life service is basic, basic. That's number two. Number three, each diocese can fund an official Prolife diocesis in ministry department and each parish and official chapter of Orthodox Christians for life. That's number three. Number four, we can add special prayers for an end to abortion, special prayers for the healing of women who have had abortions, special memorial prayers for the children in all of our prayer books so that our people have the prayers front and center into their devotions. It's not difficult. Number five, bishops and priests can meet the great pro life leader, if that exists today in our land. We can read their works, we can study the best of their books and periodicals. People like David Delidon and Lyla roads, these champions for the unborn in our nation. As a side note, do you know that we pray for David Deliden every day at the altar in this church and have four years? Do you know that he's on our altar prayer list? Number six, we can create basic prolife catechetical material and require that it be utilized in the formation of Catechumens, such that everyone becoming orthodox, everyone in every parish going through catechism has some exposure to the churches teaching about prolife ethics. We can do distribute this for our Christian education, for our Sunday school and for our parish school curricula. It's something that we must do in the St Andrew Academy. We can't do everything at the same time, but it's something that is must be done in the near future. Number seven, our seminaries can be asked to train our future priests...

...as pro life leaders, asking the seminarians to study and right on the subject of abortion and to learn in seminary how to organize income conduct prayer vigils for life and against abortion, both in their churches and publicly before the bortuaries. Number Eight, we can provide specific and much needed catechism on medical ethics for our doctors, nurses and medical workers. This is the front line. Orthodox Christian physicians and nurses, medical workers and especially our pharmacists, need a careful, loving catechism prolife, catechism presented to them so that they can be properly formed and not end up losing their souls by becoming a pharmacist and distributing the morning after pe'll like it's nothing. We can call on all of our medical professionals to live their faith in the secular medical environment, to encourage them, and we can vigorously defend them when their religious freedom is compromised, as it is constantly being. If we clergy cannot be the champions of a free conscience in America, who possibly could be? Number nine, bishops and priests can exalt the virtues of chastity and Virginity and nourish the faithful in teaching about godly sexuality. You know, it's a fact that the vast majority of abortions are procured as solution for the unexpected consequences of sex between unmarried persons, illumining the faithful about beautiful and godly sexuality, of the importance of chastity in bringing that to your marriage so that your marital life can be blessed. This is of high import number ten, we can greatly encourage adoption in our diocese and in all of our parishes, establishing adoption services in each diocese and preaching about the glory of adoption, a glory all Christians share by virtue of being adopted ourselves by God. Do you know that the Church has a special service in the priest's prayer book for adoption? Did you know that? Probably a lot of you do, because we have so many beautiful parents who have embraced adoption in this in this parish, so many people who have opened their hearts to this radical love of life that the church nourishes. Number Eleven. Each diocese can open a home for unwet mothers and parishes can be asked to support these homes by their bishops. Number twelve. We, bishops and priest can greatly honor large families in our parishes and provide the significant moral support necessary to foster this high responsibility of accepting in our embrace the children that God will to give us. Make no mistake, dear ones, we'll never overcome abortion until we love children enough to embrace them ourselves. Large families have always been the church's way. It's normal. We need to encourage people to welcome a third child. Even these days, a second child is a great contradiction to our society. We're not even reproducing at a rate where we can sustain ourselves in our culture today. It means so much to parents to have the encouragement in the approbation of their bishop and of their priest when they courageously accept a third child or...

...a fourth child. Many dioceses throughout the world, in world orthodoxy, have journals. I've written articles for numerous of them, journals explicitly dedicated to family life and to large families, encouraging the faithful to be courageous and to open their hearts. Number Thirteen. We can ask our local hospitals for the custody of aborted children and give them propper burial, for God's sake, so that the heinous practice of disposing of a boarded children into the local garbage dumps comes to an end, because that's where most of them are buried. They get thrown into massive garbage disposals, sliced into little tiny pieces and thrown in the trash. I know this personally because Presley, Tara and I had to literally fight just to preserve our own miscarried child and get it out of the hands of Kaiser who, according to their policy, we're not going to allow us to take our own baby girl home and bury her. I had to tell them, what are you going to do? Arrest me when I walk out this door? They've got away with crimes for so long and we have been so quiet that they have no shame. Fourteen, bishops can come out in mass, direct their priests to come out in mass and together, ask their people to come out in mass to join us every January in Washington, DC, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Indianapolis and all the major cities in our nation that hold walks for life. Fifteen, we must never honor Orthodox politicians who support and promote abortion. These politicians are fake Orthodox. They are a disgrace to the holy church and to honor them is a great sin against God and a grotesque example of pastoral malfeasance. Number Sixteen, we must never be public hypocrites saying, when addressing the topic of abortion, that we support protecting unborn children and, at the same time, that we support the autonomy of women over their bodies. Pregnant women do not have autonomy over their bodies to the point of being free to kill their unborn children. No, tickling ears and trying to avoid at all costs becoming unpopular with advocates of abortion is unworthy of a man of God. Seventeen, bishops can discipline their priests who support abortion. I'm sorry to even have to have this in here. How could this even be relevant? But it is. Bishops can discipline their priests who support abortion, and priests can discipline their faithful who support abortion. There is no world that exists in which faithful Christians can be pro abortion. None. Eighteen, we can personally engage. We bishops and priests,...

...we have the platforms to personally engage major pro abortion figures in our society and actively to dialog with them in hopes of winning their hearts. And if we even can't win their hearts, at least at least we followed Christ's counsel to bring confrontation to those who are sending a big sin. Number nineteen, we can form moral alliances with traditional Roman Catholics and Protestants who are zealous in the pro life movement, what I would call an acumenism of moral collaboration, and utilize our common strength to lobby for laws and policy in accordance with the laws of nature and of Nature's God. And lastly, noumber twenty, dear ones, we can trust God that if we stand up for his children, no matter how frightening the prospect is to us, and certainly I understand that it can be very frightening, and no matter how much we're persecuted for doing so, we can trust that God will stand up for us if we stand up for them. We can trust that are standing at the great judgment, which is certainly coming, will be more secure if we stand for the unborn now, if we don't close our ears to the cries of those who are being led away to death. I don't know. I don't know if I just sinned against you in any way or if I was too bold. I don't know. Nothing that I wrote here do, I think, is but if I in any way was too bold. It's because I feel the heavy weight of what Saint Paul writes when he says that the times are evil. We live in a valley of tears, dear ones, and on this Sunday we stop to let the Gravit of that situation affect us and we ask God to buy His grace enable us to respond as those who love him and love all people, especially the most vulnerable, who need our care. I trust that His grace can help us, that we could make some progress, that we could do the right thing. Ahmen. 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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