Tag Archives: Feast of the Transfiguration

We bring fruit.

In his second epistle the Apostle Peter makes mention of the transfiguration of our Lord that occurred on Mt. Tabor; we heard this reading today in Divine Liturgy:

II PETER 1:10-19 

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;

for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.

Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you,

knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.

Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.

For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…

We were celebrating this wonderful Feast of the Transfiguration, when “as much as they could see it,” the Uncreated Light was revealed to three of Christ’s disciples. From where I was standing, I could see up high the fresco showing the event, and the disciples fallen to the ground. Matthew tells us that “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.”

It’s traditional to bring fruit to be blessed at this feast:

And in our parish, which has a vineyard on the property, it’s also traditional to process
through the rows as the grapes are blessed while still on the vine.


I’d never noticed the wild blackberry bushes nearby, but on the way back
to the church they provided snacks for whoever would partake.

In his article, “Fruit of the Transfiguration,” Fr.  Vladimir explains the connection between this feast and the bringing of fruit as a sacrifice. In this season of the year when we harvest our earthly tomatoes and peaches and zucchini,  we also come near to the end of the liturgical year, and get a glimpse in Christ’s transfiguration of the ultimate fruit and goal of our spiritual life.

Later in the day my godmother sent me a short video lesson from Bishop Alexei of Alaska, in his series on the Nicene Creed. He was talking about how our faith in God as the Creator of everything seen and unseen helps us to have the right perspective on nature. He referred to the “golden pool of God’s love,” or “the golden pool of virtue,” which we can experience when we learn to focus our hearts not on that which is seen, but on the One who brought it all into being. This goldenness seems to be another way to express the radiance and light that comes to us in the person of the Savior.

He made me realize that the virtues are the spiritual fruits that this feast brings to mind. Again, God is the Creator and Source of all invisible things like faith and love and kindness and patience. Just as we are incapable of creating the contents of our fruit baskets that we brought this morning, so we are not creators of the virtues. But we can work the soil with our prayers, and irrigate with the sacraments, and receive with thanksgiving the graceful sunshine in our hearts. “All that we have comes from God and we give it out of His hand.” (I Chronicles 29:14)

On the Mountain You were Transfigured, O Christ God,
and Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it;
so that when they would behold You crucified,
they would understand that Your suffering was voluntary,
and would proclaim to the world,
that You are truly the Radiance of the Father!

Story of a Transfiguration icon.

Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ

This mosaic dating from the 6th century is in the apse of the great basilica at St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mt. Sinai, built by Emperor Justinian before 565. I found it when I was looking at icons on the internet of Christ’s Transfiguration, which we commemorate today.

I also watched a fascinating video, the Conservation of the Transfiguration Mosaic, featuring an informal and entertaining lecture by an eminent Italian archeologist, conservationist and expert on mosaics, Roberto Nardi. It is informal in that he does not read a paper, but gives the best kind of commentary on the extensive video footage shown. The video is from 2012, so maybe I am one of the last to see it.

He starts with the history of the monastery, which he admits goes back to Moses and the burning bush, on through St. Helen and St. Justinian; the mosaic was installed soon after the church was built. In 1847 a Russian monk named Samuel did a huge amount of restoration work on the mosaic, and in 1957 archeologists sounded an alarm about its deteriorating condition, but it lasted 50 more years to the point where this 5-year project began. By then, 20,000 tiles were missing (though of course monks had saved them in boxfuls), which equaled 4% of the total, and a great number of the remainder were no longer actually attached to the base layer.

I could watch this video over and over, all the tedious detail work so well documented. What they did about the missing tiles (shown as white spots in the picture just above) was the outworking of a series of complex deliberations.  I hope you will check out at least a bit of the video, because I don’t know where to stop, telling you all the things about this long project that impress me. How the conservators came to learn to appreciate the experience and perspective of the monks — the ones who live with the icon and pray with it every day — was a touching part of the story. The pictures I show you are just teasers, blurry because I took them of the video on my desktop computer monitor.

Back in the U.S.A., our parish celebrated the feast with all the important elements intact. If you want to read more content on the feast itself you can find a lot from past years here. I don’t always get to be part of the procession through the church vineyard, and sometimes I have forgotten to bring a basket of fruit, but today I managed both!

The monks celebrating the Divine Liturgy under the icon of the Transfiguration at Mt. Sinai, and the Orthodox parishioners in California — we are all singing this hymn of the feast:

O Lord, we will walk in the light of Thy countenance,
and will exult in Thy Name forever.
(Ps. 88:15)

Icon of the Transfiguration, St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mt. Sinai

Glory in the cloud, and from His face.

You were transfigured upon Mt. Tabor, O Jesus,
And a shining cloud, spread out like a tent,
Covered the apostles with Your glory.
Whereupon their gaze fell to the ground,
For they could not bear to look upon the brightness
Of the unapproachable glory of Your face,
O Savior Christ,
our God Who are without beginning.
You Who have shone upon them with Your Light,
Give light now to our souls.