The Arena
The Arena

Episode 590 · 2 months ago

When Tolerance is a Great Evil | Sunday of St. James the Persian


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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My Life in Christ: The Life & Teaching of Saint John of Kronstadt | 9 Lectures

Patristic Nectar Publications is pleased to present a new 9-part lecture series entitled My Life in Christ: The Life and Teaching of St. John of Kronstadt. This series consists of two parts. The first consists of four thematic lectures given in 2022 by Fr. Josiah to the St. John Chrysostom Catechetical School in Riverside, Ca. The second part of this series is five talks given by His Grace, Bishop Basil of Wichita, at a men’s retreat in Kansas in 2008. St. John of Kronstadt, the Wonder-Worker, served God in Russia during the second half of the 19th century and fell asleep in Christ in 1908. His life, miracles, and teaching have been cherished by believers as God’s love gift to the Church and to the world on the cusp of the 20th century, the most violent century in the history of humanity.  These lectures and discussions reveal the beauty of a life lived supremely in and for Jesus Christ the Lord.

Lecture #1 - The Life of Saint John of Kronstadt

Lecture #2 - On Prayer

Lecture #3 - The Eucharist and Divine Liturgy

Lecture #4 - On the Priesthood

Lecture #5 - The Russia of St. John of Kronstadt

Lecture #6 - Confession and Communion in St. John's Teaching

Lecture #7 - Q&A (Part 1)

Lecture #8 - St. John Counsels and Teachings on Prayer

Lecture #9 - Q&A (Part 2)

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Now available at Patristic Nectar dot org. Patristic Nectar Publications is pleased to present a nine part lecture series entitled My Life in Christ, The Life and Teaching of Saint John of Kronstadt. This series consists of two parts. The first consists of four thematic lectures given in twenty twenty two by Father Josiah Trenham to the Saint John Chrysostom Catechetical School in Riverside, California. The second part of this series are five talks given by His Grace, Bishop Basil of Wichita to a men's retreat in Kansas in two thousand eight. Saint John of Kronstadt, the wonder Worker, served God in Russia during the second half of the nineteenth century and fell asleep in Christ in nineteen o eight. His life, miracles, and teaching have been cherished by believers as God's love gift to the Church into the world on the cusp of the twenty century, the most violent century in the history of humanity. These lectures and discussions reveal the beauty of a life lived supremely in and for Jesus Christ the Lord. For these and other available titles, please visit our website at Patristic Nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenneth in 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, and I wish you all the strength and encouragement that you need for a good and profitable advent fast Holy days. We're walking in the midst of Holy days. These are days of preparation for the coming of Christ. That's where the word advent comes from, Adventus, the coming of Christ. We are preparing to celebrate his first coming in the flesh. We also are remembering his coming for us at the appointed time on the appointed day that in his providence, He's appointed for us to pass from this life, and we are looking for his final, second and glorious coming. We have a lot to set our minds on and a lot to direct our hearts to during the fast, and I encourage you to embrace it with enthusiasm. Today also is Founder's Day. Founder's Day is a parish custom that we instituted many moons ago to dedicate this Sunday before the Feast of Saint Andrew, our paternal feast, which is this Wednesday, will be celebrating the vigil and liturgy Tuesday night. We always take the Sunday that is just be for Saint Andrew Day, since it's such a celebrative occasion. To celebrate a paternal feast, is to celebrate a second pasta in the parish. It's a great day of rejoicing for us, and so we remember those who built this parish, the founders of this parish, many of whom have gone to their rest, some are still with us, thank God. But we open up the Holy Table on this Sunday. You might know, our our magnificent Holy table is made of white Syrian marble. And on the top of the Holy table is a small cavity. You don't see it because it's flat. There has a little top you can take out, and then you can get into the cavity. And in the cavity are two main things. A scroll that the founders of this parish at the time of the consecration signed publicly here and then we put their...

...aims into the altar and the relics of our Alter Sat. Our altar saint is the Holy Martyr Eugene, whose icon is painted just there on that pillar. Just as you go through that arch, you'll see him looking just at you. There, one of the great five Armenian martyr celebrated on December. I'm hoping to have the account of their martyrdom painted, perhaps on that freeze just as you walk into the baptismal chapel, one of the few spaces that remains unpainted in the church. His these sacred relics, these bones of this wonderful martyr Eugene, were given to us by Metropolitan from Kyriakos of the Metropolis of Tripoli in North Lebanon. Just before we consecrated this church. He visited here. He was speaking in our diocese, and Metropolitan Joseph was taking him around to see us, and he brought him here to the church Chin. But he bestowed these relics upon us, as well as signing our gospel book. It was a great honor for us to have Metropolitan eph from a deeply respected monk who became bishop and metropolitan in North Lebanon. And on this day we don't just open the altar, but we bring out the relics of the altar, and so you'll have an opportunity at the end of the service to venerate the holy relics, both of St. Eugene and also the relics of St. Athanasios the Great, the great defender of the faith against the heresy of Arius. We have many more relics that loving people and generous folk and the blessing of God have bestowed upon us. And in fact, we are having right now made a marvelous reliquary for the church that will contain all of the relics together, and so we'll be able to bring the relics out for veneration so that you can have greater access to them. I know you're spoiled already because you have access to St. Andrew, and you get to venerate his icon in repose there as well as some of his bones on a regular basis. And I can't tell you how thrilled my heart is to see all of you loving St. Andrew, thinking of his life, asking his prayers and blessings a lot makes me dance, makes me dance. I'd like to say a word to you now, dear ones. I've entitled it when tolerance becomes evil, When tolerance becomes evil. The Gospel lesson is from the eighteenth chapter of St. Luke. It's a portion of the Holy Gospel dedicated to the subject of salvation. There are four major teachings in this section, from chapter eight, verse nine through chapter nine, verse ten, all on the subject of how to be saved or lost. It begins with that potent teaching on the publican and the Pharisee in the Temple. It continues with Jesus directing his disciples and all who would listen to the example of children, if we want to be saved, because we'll never be saved unless we become like the children. Then our gospel of the rich young Ruler that you just heard a man who wanted to be saved, but it wasn't his chief want. It was a high want in his life, but it wasn't his supreme desire. It was a fundamental ambition, but not his all consuming and ambition. And salvation does not come to anyone if it is in their life a second priority, a third priority, or a fourth priority. The only way anyone is saved, ever, is it becomes the first priority of their right life. Jesus will never accept being you know m number two three, No, no.

And then the last text following this, if you would keep reading in St. Louis Gospel, you would hear the account of Zachus, the exact opposite of the rich, young ruler who couldn't bear the thought of dispossessing himself, even though it was only for a short time. Jesus wasn't saying to the man, you're going to be poor and ruin the rest of your life. That's just what you've got to accept. He was saying, Look, don't misjudge this life. Don't store up treasure here, sell it all, give it to the poor. Come following me, and I will give you treasure that doesn't perish in heaven. This is what's coming well, Zachus. The next account is a man who had stored up lots of treasure here, but when he saw Jesus, when his eyes fixed on Christ and he heard his words, and then Jesus showed his interest in him by speaking to him though they had never met, by insisting on entering into the man's house. Zachaeus was completely changed, and Zachaius gave it up. He said, Lord, half of all of my possessions I give to the poor, and anything that I've stolen, by the way, that's a lot. He was a tax collector. No one has ever liked tax collectors. How our president could think that it might be a smart idea to hire eighty seven thousand new I r S tax auditors, and that he might still be loved by some people in this country. Someone didn't tell him the right thing. There tax collectors steal constantly, And Zachkius promised not only would he return it, but for times over, according to the law of God, he would give back and more. And Jesus said, truly, this man right here, salvation has come to his house. That's the theme of this portion of scripture. It is profound. Salvation is also and the cost of salvation, and the temptations to misjudge wealth and property and value is also front and center. In the saint that we commemorate today. His name is St. James the Persian, the Great Martyr. He's just there in the middle of the South choir with that unique Persian hat. You see him there. St. James on November has become deeply loved by our people. Don't mean our parish, I mean the Christian people in general. St. James lived at the end of the fourth century. The oldest manuscripts we have of his life, which are found on Mount Athos at the Great Lavra. The manuscripts say that he lived during the reign of Arcadius, and Arcadius was the son of the Great Emperor, Theodosius the Great and the terrible Emperor who exiled St. John Chrysostom. If you want to see what he looks like, you can go into our St. John Chrystan Chrysostom Chapel and look at the icon of St. John's expulsion from Constantinople, and you'll see there that horrible Emperor Arcadius and his even more horrible wife if Proxia right next to him. He lived in Persia. In fact, the Hymnity of the Church says that St. James's life was a second light, a second star arising from Persia to guide the Christian people. Of course, the first is the Star of Bethlehem that came from the East and then settled over Bethlehem. St. James's life is so illustrative, it's so important for us that the Church says that he himself is a second star...

...that has arisen from the from the Persian ees to guide the Christian people. He was deeply loved by the King of Persia is the gird so loved in fact, that the King wanted James near him at all times. He bestowed incredible wealth upon him, influenced power. He wanted him with him at all times. James was a Christian. His parents were Christians, He had been raised in piety, he had married a Christian wife. He had lived for God. But from the power, the influence, the pressure of the King, he became weak. And little by little, the King, as he was plumbing him with gifts and titles and lands, he was asking, without always directly asking, he was asking James to give up his Christian faith, and much to James's shame, he did. He gave up the king of Heaven to serve a king on earth. It was a horrible decision, and absolutely horrible decision. When his wife found out and his mother found out, they wept. Their hearts were completely broken. The one whom they loved had just made the worst decision of his life. He had just taken the great gifts of God. That he had just taken his salvation and thrown it in the trash. He had just made a straight course to hell. Because that is the destiny of those who betrayed Christ. That is the end of everyone who pledges loyalty to the Lord, who loves and serves the Lord, and then spits in his face and renounces him. Apostates have horrible futures. They decided that they were going to write him a letter, and that they weren't even going to see him another time. His wife, his mother, What kind of women are these? They decided that they had no interested in seeing his face ever again. They didn't want to hear any of his words, none of his excuses. They were so grieved for his sake, and so grief for the Lord, that they wrote him a letter, and they told him, you have made the worst decision of your whole life. You have abandoned Christ, and in so doing you have abandoned us, and we refuse to even see you. You are on your way to destruction. They actually said it more strongly than I just said it. I've read a number of accounts of the letter. I read a new one that I found this morning. The one I like to quote the most begins with two words, you wretch. That's his wife, that's his mother. St. James. When he received the letter, the text says, it was as though he was shaken out of a drunken stupor. It was as though a breeze from heaven...

...came into his mind and just blew all of the clouds away, and he saw absolutely clearly what he had done. He saw absolutely clearly how terrible it was of a thing to do to Christ, and he m right then at that moment, wept and repented and decided that he would be honest and tell the King exactly what he felt, that this was the most ridiculous decision that he's ever made, that he was persuaded by earthly things that just overwhelmed him, and that he would in no way ever enter the idol temple again with the King, and that he renounced all of the idols as devils, and he was returning to Christ no matter what would happen. The King went from being his best friend to his greatest opponent and concocted the most aggressive pay inanful tortures possible. He had St. James chopped into pieces peace by peace, starting with his thumbs. When his first thumb was cut off, St. James offered it to Christ and he said, oh Lord, the first branch of your tree is offered to you, and then he went through each of his digits. They chopped off his fingers on both hands, then his wrists, then to the elbows, then to the shoulders. Then they chopped off his toes in the same way, then to his ankles, then to his knees, then to his waist. And he was only a stump. And by the grace of God, he was able to maintain consciousness, maintain his prayer, and even speak. He offered every piece of his body in repentance, remembering what Christ had offered to us. He showed us that it's possible. It's possible to repent, it's possible to make up for the stupidest decisions that we've ever made. Mothers and wives, I want to say one thing to you. Look at this mother, Look at this wife of St. James. If they had given in, just think of the fears they must have had him writing this letter. This woman's husband was the second in the kingdom, the second most powerful man, the second most wealthy man, and she was going to cut him off, rebuke him and say I'm never going to speak to you again. What a risk she could have been, facing poverty, she could have been facing persecution. If you think I'm wrong. Let's just move back two days from of November on a Sunday to the November on Friday. The life and martyrdom of St. Catherine. The all wives of Alexandria. Remember that when the Emperor was persecuting her, Maximine was persecuting Catherine. His wife believed received the gospel from St. Catherine's and tried to persuade him, and the man had her killed instantaneously dead. Just think of the fears that could have gone through that woman. I'm sure, I'm sure they did, the risks that she was taking. She put Christ and the truth where they needed to be. And this is my encouragement to your wives and to your mothers. Negotiate your two families carefully. You have a relationship...

...with Christ and his Church, and you have a relationship with your biological family. The two are not equal. Christ and the Church is supreme over any biological relationship, and in fact, it's the Church that inspires a proper relationship in the natural family. Don't exalt the natural family to betrayal the betrayal of Christ, or you'll be so sad. It's not gonna work out well. Jesus will never accept that position of being some sort of second husband. He is a first love or he is no love. That's clear. Be courageous. Sometimes tolerance is evil. If they had just said, well, we'll just pray for him, let's keep the peace. I could imagine if I was their pastor having to sit down with them and saying, well, Father, do you think we should just keep the peace, And I probably would have to think thought through it. I don't think I would have said, here, let me help you write the letter, you wretch. I don't think I would have said that God inspired that from them. Sometimes tolerance can become evil when it's a tolerance of sin just for your own comfort. Now I know you are probably wondering what wait, Father, you have often told us and encouraged us to follow the counsel of St. Peter, the first of the Apostles in his First Letter, where he says in chapter three, let any woman who has a husband who is disobedient to the word of God, let her win him without a word, by her submissive behavior and her gentleness of heart. For in this way the former women of Bold honored their husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him Lord, and she did so without being afraid of anything. This is St. Peter's Council and we revere it and as a normative guide, it's very good counsel. But there are sometimes it's not the right thing to do. This woman showed it. When your husband's life is on the line, it's not time to be quiet. Generally speaking, though it is, don't get me wrong. Generally speaking, it is, but sometimes it's not. Sometimes it takes a mother and it takes a wife to draw the line, and that leads me to say something to the husband's look. St James the Persian the right thing. He didn't get that letter and get all offended? How dare his wife and mother? After all he's done for them. Don't they know how hard he worked to provide for them. He never had any thought like that at all. He accepted their leadership in his life, that he accepted their words even though they had no gentility at all. There was nothing nice in the letter, nothing like I love you and I just want you to accept what I'm gonna say. None of it. He made the right decision, and husbands, we have to do that if our wives skewer us. But it wasn't done exactly the best way, and the wives didn't take the council that you. I promise you I always give them, which is always first, to give you a necroub before they say something like that. I always say, that's the best thing to do. Give him a neck rub. They I'm...

...a nice dinner, tell him that you love him, and then say, sweetheart, can I share something that's on my heart. Now you've got him just where you want him to be, and then you can say whatever you need to say. There are times when it doesn't matter the approach, and by the way, it doesn't apply just to our wives, but to our our parents, even whether we're grown. St. James's mom was a co signer of this document. The important thing is what are they saying. If they're saying something, even though it's not being said in a way that we want it to be said, but you know it's true and what they're asking you to do is right, then forget about how it was done, accept it anyway. In the Tate St. James, receive the criticism inside of yourself for the benefit of it and for your own salvation. And that leads me to my last word. There's three places. Three places in the service text for St. James the Persian, where he is called um a vine that is pruned by God. In fact, uh, it's in the Expostlarian, in the Kentockian, and in the third ode of his Cannon, and those three places he's likened to a vine, God, to the vine dresser, and his sufferings to being pruned by God. That imagery, of course, all comes from the fifteenth chapter of St. John's Gospel, where Jesus says that I am the vine, and my father is the vine dresser. You are the branches. Abide in me, and I ambide in you, and you'll bear much fruit. A good vine dresser prunes the vine. In St James's case, that pruning meant martyrdom, and that's how he viewed every one of his limbs, being God was doing it, not the men. He accepted the martyrdom as his salvation, and look what it did. Look what it did. That's also how we should view the difficulties of our lives. Embrace the pruning. Be certain that if you're attached to the vine, the way that you're going to bear more fruit is by occasionally being clipped. It's not fun to be clipped, especially by your wife and your mother. But it's blessed. But it's blessed. Let's all accept that. Let's all accept that the Lord and his good providence has one goal, and that is for us to be healthy, grow bear fruit to the glory of God and to our own blessing for eternity. And there's one way it's going to happen, and that is by some occasional pruning that comes from the providence of God. We can accept what God gives us and even turn it into an offering, turn it into something beautiful, just like Saint James did. If you haven't ever kissed them, the feet are right at your head level for most of you, and there's even a nice path that the folks made there for you for after the service. I wish you a very wonderful feast of Saint James the Persian o Them. 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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