Wednesday, 5 October 2016

The Transfiguration of the Lord

The Transfiguration
Transfiguration of Our Lord

From a sermon by Anastasius of Sinai, bishop

It is good for us to be here

Upon Mount Tabor, Jesus revealed to his disciples a heavenly mystery.  While living among them he had spoken of the kingdom and of His second coming in glory, but to banish from their heart any possible doubt concerning the kingdom and to confirm their faith in what lay in the future by its prefiguration in the present, He gave them on Mount Tabor a wonderful vision of His glory, a foreshadowing of the kingdom of heaven.  It was as if He said to them: “As time goes by you may be in danger of losing your faith. To save you from this I tell you now that some standing here listening to me will not taste death until they have seen the Son of Man coming in the glory of His Father.”  

Moreover, in order to assure us that Christ could command such power when He wished, the evangelist continues: Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter, James and John, and led them up a high mountain where they were alone.  There, before their eyes, He was transfigured.  His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as light.  Then the disciples saw Moses and Elijah appear, and they were talking to Jesus.

These are the divine wonders we celebrate today (Feast of the Transfiguration, August 6); this is the saving revelation given us upon the mountain; this is the festival of Christ that has drawn us here.  Let us listen, then, to the sacred voice of God so compellingly calling us from on high, from the summit of the mountain, so that with the Lord’s chosen disciples we may penetrate the deep meaning of these holy mysteries, so far beyond our capacity to express.  

Jesus goes before us to show us the way, both up the mountain and into heaven, and—I speak boldly—it is for us now to follow Him with all speed, yearning for the heavenly vision that will give us a share in His radiance, renew our spiritual nature and transform us into His own likeness, making us for ever sharers in His Godhead and raising us to heights as yet undreamed of.

Let us run with confidence and joy to enter 
the cloud like Moses and Elijah, 
or like James and John.  
Let us be caught up like Peter 
to behold the divine vision 
and to be transfigured by 
that glorious transfiguration.  
Let us retire from the world, 
stand aloof from the earth, 
rise above the body, 
detach ourselves from creatures 
and turn to the Creator, 
to whom Peter in ecstasy exclaimed: 
Lord, it is good for us to be here.

It is indeed good to be here, as you have said, Peter. It is good to be with Jesus and to remain here for ever.  What greater happiness or higher honor could we have than to be with God, to be made like Him and to live in His light?

Therefore, since each of us possesses God in his heart and is being transformed into His divine image, we also should cry out with joy: It is good for us to be here—here where all things shine with divine radiance, where there is joy and gladness and exultation; where there is nothing in our hearts but peace, serenity and stillness; where God is seen.  

For here, in our hearts, Christ takes up his abode together with the Father, saying as He enters: Today salvation has come to this house.  With Christ, our hearts receive all the wealth of His eternal blessings, and there where they are stored up for us in Him, we see reflected as in a mirror both the firstfruits and the whole of the world to come.

Anastasius of Sinai, bishop
d. around 700 AD
Taken from the Liturgy of the Hours

Blessed Virgin Mary sermon by St. Sophronius, bishop

Mary, the Mother of  God
From a sermon by Saint Sophronius, bishop

Through Mary 
the Father’s blessing has shone forth on mankind

Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you. What joy could surpass this, O Virgin Mother?  What grace can excel that which God has granted to you alone?  What could be imagined more dazzling or more delightful?  Before the miracle we witness in you, all else pales; all else is inferior when compared with the grace you have been given.  All else, even what is most desirable, must take second place and enjoy a lesser importance.

The Lord is with you.  Who would dare challenge you?  You are God’s mother; who would not immediately defer to you and be glad to accord you a greater primacy and honor?  For this reason, when I look upon the privilege you have above all creatures, I extol you with the highest praise: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.  On your account joy has not only graced men, but is also granted to the power of heaven.

Truly, you are blessed among women. For you have changed Eva’s curse into a blessing; and Adam, who hitherto lay under a curse, has been blessed because of you.

Truly, you are blessed among women.  Through you the Father’s blessing has shone forth on mankind, setting them free of their ancient curse.

Truly, you are blessed among women, because through you your forebears have found salvation.  For you were to give birth to the Savior who was to win them salvation.

Truly, you are blessed among women, for without seed you have borne, as your fruit, Him who bestows blessings on the whole world and redeems it from the curse that made it sprout thorns.

Truly, you are blessed among women, because, though a woman by nature, you will become, in reality, God’s mother.  If He whom you are to bear us is truly God made flesh, then rightly do we call you God’s mother.  For you have truly given birth to God.

Enclosed within your womb is God Himself.  He makes His abode in you and comes forth from you like a bridegroom, winning joy for all and bestowing God’s light on all.

You, O Virgin, are like a clear and shining sky, in which God has set his tent.  From you he comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber.  Like a giant running His course, He will run the course of His life which will bring salvation for all who will ever live, and extending from the highest heavens to the end of them, to will fill all things with divine warmth and with life-giving brightness.

Saint Sophronius, bishopc. 560 – March 11, 638

Guardian Angels sent by God

Guardian Angel

Guardian Angels

Feast Day October 2

From a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot

That they might guard you in all your ways

He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways. Let them thank the Lord for his mercy; his wonderful works are for the children of men.   Let them give thanks and say among the nations, the Lord has done great things for them.  O Lord, what is man that you have made yourself known to him, or why do you incline your heart to him?  And you do incline your heart to him; you show him your care and your concern.  Finally, you send your only Son and the grace of your Spirit, and promise him a vision of your countenance.  And so, that nothing in heaven should be wanting in your concern for us, you send those blessed spirits to serve us, assigning them as our guardians and our teachers.

He has given his angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways. These words should fill you with respect, inspire devotion and instill confidence; respect for the presence of angels, devotion because of their loving service, and confidence because of their protection.  And so the angels are here; they are at your side, they are with you, present on your behalf.  They are here to protect you and to serve you.  But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need.

So let us be devoted and grateful to such great protectors; let us return their love and honor them as much as we can and should.  Yet all our love and honor must go to Him, for it is from Him that they receive all that makes them worthy of our love and respect.
We should then, my brothers, show our affection for the angels, for one day they will be our coheirs just as here below they are our guardians and trustees appointed and set over us by the Father.  We are God’s children although it does not seem so, because we are still but small children under guardians and trustees, and for the present little better than slaves.

Even though we are children and have a long, a very long and dangerous way to go, with such protectors what have we to fear?  They who keep us in all our ways cannot be overpowered or led astray, much less lead us astray.  They are loyal, prudent, powerful.  Why then are we afraid?  We have only to know to follow them, stay close to them, and we shall dwell under the protection of God’s heaven.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux Abbot, 1090-1153
Taken from the Liturgy of the Hours