On August 6 is the commemoration of the divine Transfiguration of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.
New Martyr Abbacum of Thessalonica (1628)
Repose of Abbess Maria (Ushakova) of Diveyevo (1904)
Repose of Elder Tryphon of Kapsala, Mount Athos (1978)
”O Lord, in the light of Thy countenance shall they walk, and in Thy, Name shall they rejoice all the day long.”
Hymn of Praise
The Transfiguration of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovic
There, where Israel defeated Sisar
There also condescended, the Heavenly King
Prayer, to go and to nightly vigils,
The glory of His Transfiguration, to manifest,
And the faith of His followers, to confirm
In the eternal victory of Him the Victor.
There, divine light from Himself, He released
Dispels the thick darkness, and illuminated Tabor;
The Light, for a long time, which in Himself contained
From which, to the world, a little at a time dispensed
Abundant rays, now released,
Jubilant rays, sweet rays.
The glow of humanity, to reveal to heaven,
To earth and to men, the Divine Truth.
Let the firmament, its Representative see,
Let the earth recognize God, the Savior.
From the Prolog by Saint Nikolai Velimirovic
Saint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex
What can I do to inherit eternal life”?
And I was given the answer:
“Pray, as Saint Gregory Palamas, who cried for many years, “Lord, Enlighten my darkness,” and he was heard.
“Pray in the words of the Ecclesiastical Ode “Enlighten, O Giver of Light, and me the sinner with Your light inaccessible”, and strengthen your faith, remembering that the Church does not pray for things that cannot be done.”
Then, that Man, in excluding the possibility that such a prayer would remain without the above answer, closed his argument as follows:
” When your soul knew this light, then, when it happened to lose it, you will burn for it, and mimicking the Saint Simeon the New Theologian will seek and will I cry unto them:
— Come, O true light!
— Come, O eternal life!
— Come, O raising of the fallen!
— Come, O rising of those who lie down!
— Come, O resurrection of the dead!
— Come, All-Holy King.
— Come, and dwell in us
and live continually, inseparably within me,
and you reign in us
ever and unto the ages of ages.
The spiritual homeland of the person whose soul has been purified is within. The sun that shines there is the light of the Trinity. The air breathed by the entering thoughts is the Holy Spirit the Comforter. With the person dwell the angels. Their life, their joy, their cause for celebration is Christ the light of the Father’s light. Such a person rejoices every hour in the contemplation of his soul, and marvels at the beauty that appears, a hundred times brighter than the brightness of the sun … That is the kingdom of God hidden within us, according tο the words of the Lord.» Ιsaac οf Nineveh Ascetic Treatises, 43 (p. 176-7)
A Greek-American family man who saw the Uncreated Light
St.Paisios the Athonite
The Geron (=elder) once told me the following story:
“A Greek-American doctor had once visited me. He was Orthodox, but didn’t have too much to do with religion… He didn’t even keep the fast on Fridays…nor did he go to Church very often. He recently had an experience, and wanted to discuss it with someone. One evening, while he was praying in his apartment, the “heavens opened up”. He was flooded by light, and the ceiling disappeared, as did the other forty floors above his apartment. He remained in that flood of light for a very long time – he couldn’t even tell for how long!
I stood amazed! Because I could feel and understand that this incident was “from God”. It was real… He had actually seen the “uncreated light” [*].
What had he done in his lifetime? How did he live, to deserve such divine things?
He was married; he had a wife and children. His wife had said to him: “I’m sick and tired of housework; I want to be able to go out for a walk every now and then.” Well, she wasn’t exactly employed, so she started to go out with her girlfriends and pressured him into accompanying her every night on her outings. After a while, she said: “I want to be able to go out with my girlfriends, alone.” He accepted this, for his children’s sake. Later, she “wanted to go on vacation by herself….”. What could he do? He gave her money and the car.
She then asked him to rent out an apartment, so that she could live on her own; she would also invite her friends over. He would speak to her, he would counsel her, ‘how do our children feel about all this?’. She was adamant. In the end, she extracted a large sum of money from him and deserted him. She felt too confined!
A few years later, he learnt that she had ended up a prostitute in the clubs of Piraeus!
He was distraught! He lamented over her fate! He thought of looking for her. But what would he tell her?..
He knelt down to pray: “My God…help me, tell me what to say… what to do… to save this soul…”. You see, he was hurting for her. He wanted “that soul to be saved”. No male ego, no vindictiveness, no contempt… he truly hurt inside, seeing her wretched state. He ached for her salvation…
That was the moment when God opened up the heavens… and flooded him with His light.
You see?… You see?….. He was in America….. and in what kind of an environment was he living?….. And yet, how many of us live on this Holy Mountain, inside the grace of the Holy Mother, without any sort of progress!
Glory be to God ! Glory be to God! »
* «uncreated light»: It is called uncreated, in other words, it has not been created, it is without a beginning; it is a divine energy, God; it has been experienced, by major spiritual ascetics; it is the desired achievement of ascetic living; it is considered an experience of theosis.
It is a participation of the human in the Divine energy… “…communicants of divine nature…”
Translation by A. N., An excerpt from the book: “Father Paisios told me”, by Athan. Rakovalis, “Orthodox Hive” Publications, pages 27-29
Experiences of Taborite Light of St. Ambrose of Optina
In his youth, the nineteenth-century Russian elder, St. Ambrose of Optina, had a glimpse of this eternal progress of love in heaven, which he recorded in a manuscript published after bin death:
«I am outside the forest, somewhere far away, in another world, quite unknown to me, never seen by me, never imagined by me…. Around me there is bright white Light! Its transcendence u so pure and enticing that I am submerged, along with my perception, into limitless depths and cannot satisfy myself with my admiration for this realm, cannot completely fill myself with its lofty spirituality. Everything is so full of beauty all around. So endearing this life … so endless the way. I am being swept across this limitless, clear space. My sight is directed upwards, does not descend anymore, does not see anything earthly. The whole of the heavenly firmament has transformed itself before me into mu general bright Light, pleasing to the sight…. But I do not see the sun. I can see only its endless shining and bright Light. The whole space in which I glide without hindrance, without end, without fatigue, is filled with white, just as are its light and beautiful benign, transparent as a ray of sun. And through them I am admiring this limitless world. The images of all these beings unknown to me are infinitely diverse and full of beauty…. I also am white and bright as they are. Over me, as over them, there reigns eternal rest. Not a single thought of mine is any longer enticed by anything earthly; not a single beat of my heart is any longer moving with human cares or earthly passion. I am all peace and rapture. But I am still moving in this infinite Light, which surrounds me without change. There is nothing else in the world except for the white, bright Light and these equally radiant numberless beings. But all these beings do not resemble me, nor are similar to each other; they are all endlessly varied, and compellingly attractive. Amidst them, I feel incredibly peaceful. They evoke in me neither fear, nor amazement, nor trepidation. All that we see here does not agitate us, does not amaze us. All of us here are as if we have belonged to each other for a long time, are used to each other and are not strangers at all. We do not ask questions, we do not speak to each other about anything. We all feel and understand that there is nothing novel for us here. All our questions are solved with one glance, which sees everything and everyone. There is no trace of the wars of passions in anyone. All move in different directions, opposite to each other, not feeling any limitation, any inequality, or envy, or sorrow, or sadness. One peace reigns in all the images of entities. One Light is endless for all. Oneness of life is comprehensible to all….»772
In this vision is contained a clear image of the goal of our life…; here is what Christ opened to us.
In his last talk with His disciples before His crucifixion, Christ told them: «In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you мая be also. And whore I go you know, and the way you know».
When Christ said this, His disciple Thomas asked Him, «Lord, we do not know where You are going. And how can we know the way?»
Christ replied, «I am the Way».773 … He became man so that we could forever dwell in Him, and He in us; so that we could experience throughout eternity the total infusion of His Light, His Uncreated Energy, sharing in His Being.
772 Chetverikov, Elder Ambrose of Opt- ina, pp. 27–28.
hieromonk Damascene (Christensen), Christ the Eternal Tao, 72. The Progression of Eternity
Blessed elder Theodore of Vyritsa*
A Wondrous Narrative on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Savior
Near Yaroslavl [in Russia] there lived a boy by the name of Theodore. When he was six years old, he visited an Eldress named Xenia, who had the gift of foresight; and she said to him:
“Who has come to see me? Theodore,what joy! For forty-five years you will pasture cows and goats. Never use a stick or a staff on them and never speak nasty or angry words, and the animals will obey you. Then you will go to St. Petersburg, to Blessed Xenia, my patron Saint; after which you will go to our holy land, to Vyritsa, to the Elder there.”
Theodore lived with his parents, and such thoughts as these never crossed his mind. However, soon he was left an orphan, and from the age of six he did indeed pasture cattle. He worked as a herdsman for exactly forty-seven years, as the Eldress had foretold to him. He never beat any animal and he never uttered a nasty word; nor did he ever lose a single cow. He had fashioned a horn, which he would blow, and with it he would call the cows. He herded cattle until he was fifty years old. He never received any wages, but ate in the homes of the cattle-owners, who also provided him with clothing. Everyone was fond of him on account of his affability and guilelessness.
He was often very distressed at not being able to go to Church on the great Feasts, because he had to take the cows out to pasture every day. On one occasion, on the Feast of the Transfiguration, he was especially sorrowful and prayed to God: “All the Faithful are praying in Church today, and I am unable to be with them. I am always with the cows and the goats.”
When Theodore had taken the cows out to pasture, he placed an Icon on a tree and prayed there for hours before it. On that day, he prayed with particular ardor.
Suddenly, he saw a flash of extraordinary light above the Icon; the light was brighter than the sun. Then our Savior appeared with Moses, Elias, and the Holy Apostles Peter, James, and John. Theodore had no idea how long the vision lasted.
By the time he came to his senses, it was already afternoon. He realized that he would have to return the animals to their ownerʼs house, because it was milking time, and at that moment the vision disappeared. Theodore got up and wept, beseeching the Lord to reveal to him whether what had happened was a genuine vision or just his imagination. He took his horn, called the cows, and turned towards the herd. He was astounded by what he saw: all the cows were kneeling, and tears flowed from their eyes!
For forty-seven years Theodore worked as a herdsman, and then he retired. He did not have any relatives, nor was he married. He remembered the guidance that he had been given in his childhood and travelled to St. Petersburg. It was then 1949….
* Source: Agios Kuprianos, No. 297 (July-August 2000), p. 323. Translated from the work of Vasily Nikolaevich Mouraviev, Elder Hieroschemamonk Seraphim of Vyritsa, 1865–1949, adapted by Alexander Trofimov [in Russian] (Moscow: St. Alexey Brotherhood, 1996), pp. 131– 132.
At Vespers: Exodus 24:12-18, 33:11-23, 34:4-6, 8; I Kings 19:3-9, 11-13, 15-16.
At the Orthros (Matins): Luke 9:28-36.
At the Divine Liturgy: II Peter 1:10-19; Matthew 17:1-9.
The event of the Transfiguration is recorded in three of the four Gospels: Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36.
Apolytikion of the Feast.
You were transfigured upon the mountain, O Christ our God, showing to Your disciples Your glory as much as they could bear. Do also in us, sinners though we may be, shine Your everlasting light, by the intercessions of the Theotokos, O Giver of light. Glory to You. (3)
On Mount Tabor, You were transfigured in glory, O Christ our God, and to Your Apostles You revealed the glory of Your divinity. We pray You, shine on us also, with the light of true knowledge of You, and guide us on the path of Your commandments, for only You are good and love humanity.
Mode pl. 1.
Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of our God, and we shall behold the glory of His Transfiguration, glory as of the only Son from the Father. By light let us receive light, and when we are uplifted by the Spirit, let us sing hymns to the consubstantial Trinity to the ages.
Mode pl. 1.
Moses, the seer of God, and Elias, the fiery charioteer who races unburnt across the heavens, saw You in the cloud at Your Transfiguration, O Christ; and they bore witness that You are the Author and Fulfiller of the Law and the Prophets. We pray You, O Master, count us worthy, like them, to receive Your illumination, and to sing Your praises to the ages.