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Written by Basil on 08/9/2003 8:39 PM. Filed under:

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We are in the afterfeast of the Transfiguration according to the Eastern calendar. Unable to attend vespers for the feast at St. Athanasius, I tried to make the Liturgy which I assumed would be served at the Greek parish in Lexington. Unfortunately, the doors were locked at nine Wednesday morning — when they normally serve the Liturgy. Why would you not celebrate one of the most important feasts in the Orthodox calendar? It’s unimaginable to me.

The Transfiguration is perhaps one of my favorite feasts of the year — and not only because I get blessed fruit at the end of the Liturgy. Many years ago, the first catechism for our fledgling parish was being held in a catechumen-parishioner’s home. In fact, we were not even a parish yet. I was not a catechumen: I was merely observing, or so I thought. In a discussion of the “kenosis” passage of Philippians 7, the priest-catechist asked, “When is the only time that Jesus was not emptying himself?” We all thought about it, and then I finally replied, “At the Transfiguration!” The light of amazement shone in the priest’s eyes — the Roman Catholic who argued about the filioque and the universal jurisdiction of the pope actually got something that left the actual catechumens scratching their heads. That realization was the beginning of the end for me.

The Orthodox emphasize the Transfiguration because the experience of Prophets Moses and Elijah on Mt. Tabor is the ultimate goal for every Christian — to be interpenetrated by the divine and uncreated energies of God. As St. Peter writes in his catholic epistle, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” The glory of the holy Trinity revealed on Mt. Tabor — the beauty of God shining through creation — this is what I was looking for. When I finally asked to be made a catechumen, it was because of this glory enfleshed in the people and traditions of the Orthodox parishes I knew. If the pope turns out to have been right, I hope God will go easy on me for “leaving the Church.”

As I mused on the irony of a liturgical addict being unable, through circumstances beyond his control, to attend services on his second favorite feast out of the year, I remembered that this spiritual work — asceticism — in synergy with God is what brings about our own transfiguration. How do you like them apples?

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2 Responses to “Transfiguration”

  1. mtd Says:

    hi kevin, i enjoyed reading your entry. sorry you missed the meeting – did you ever find out why?
    i am from a largely protestant background, and have recently had a chance to make some friends who are in the orthodox church. i confess that i am quite ignorant about the eastern church’s calendar and beliefs, but i am extremely fascinated by the differences between the many different ways that people follow jesus.

    one question: you said that this was your second favorite feast out of the year. what is your favorite and why?

  2. Bishop Says:

    I know that this is greatly frustrating for you, and my prayers are with you. Maybe you are being prepared for the next phase in your life where you may or may not be anywhere close to a church for some of these feasts.

    Peace to you brother.

    I can’t say for sure, but I am guessing that his favorite is Holy Pascha. I know that it is mine. I’m not sure that I can put into words why, but I can say that it brought back the power and the meaning of the Resurrection to me in a way that Easter never did while I was a Protestant.

    Peace to you on your journey.