Novena to the Transforming Light (Aug 6-14) Days 1-5
August 06, 2021
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.




The days which begin on the feast of the Lord’s transfiguration and end on the threshold of Our Lady’s glorification provide an opportunity for the Christian faithful to reflect on God’s transforming grace at work in their lives, and to seek from the Lord whatever they need to deepen that grace not only in themselves, but indeed in the Church and world. The prayers and readings that follow are meant to guide such reflection and prayer.

The richness of these liturgical feasts is impossible to fathom. One might begin, however, by noting how all three evangelists who narrate it make a point of locating the Transfiguration at a specific interval in the Lord’s ministry: “six days after” in the case of Mark and Matthew, “eight days” in Luke’s account. The first is reminiscent of the sixth day of creation on which God created human beings, male and female, in the divine image and likeness.  The second is reminiscent of the eighth day of creation spoken of by the Fathers of the Church, the final day which lies outside time, both Easter and Parousia, the day of a new creation when all things are made perfect, the day which the Christian Sunday celebrates and anticipates. So the Transfiguration and Assumption speak to us of humanity fully restored in the image and likeness of God, male and female; they foretell the restoration of all creation on the Day of the Lord. As the new Adam and the new Eve, progenitors of a new humanity, Jesus and Mary together represent the fulfillment of our human destiny when, in St. Irenaeus’ memorable phrase, the glory of God will indeed be humanity fully alive. 

Or as Archbishop Joseph Raya reminds us, “we are by grace what God is by nature. This mystic reality is visible in the glorified body of Christ on Mount Tabor. As the red hot iron is not only transformed into fire, but radiates fire while itself remaining iron, so the human person is transfigured by divinization, with nothing of her or his humanity destroyed or taken away. In his or her inner reality the human person is all penetrated by the light of divinity, and made a sharer in Christ’s glory while remaining wholly human. By penetrating our human nature, making it divinity, light, and brilliance, divinization gives us also a special power to live God’s way of dealing with creation and with other persons.”

So from the grace of these August mysteries seek from God whatever transforming grace you need to be more fully human, seek whatever word of Christ the Church of our time needs to hear in order to be a more effective sacrament of the human race in the course of its transfiguration, and seek whatever light the world needs to ready itself for that Day when God will be all in all.

Day 1 (August 6)

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John

and led them up a high mountain, by themselves (Mt. 17:1).


Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Gn. 1:26-31).


From a homily by St. John of Damascus

Of old when Moses saw God he experienced the divine darkness, indicating the symbolic nature of the law; for as Paul has written, the law contained only a shadow of the things to come, not the reality itself. In the past Israel could not look at the transient glory on the face of Moses; but we, beholding the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, are being transformed from one degree of glory to another by the Lord who is the Spirit. The cloud, therefore, that overshadowed the disciples was not one of threatening darkness but of light; for the mystery hidden from past ages has been revealed to show us perpetual and eternal glory. Moses and Elijah, representing the law and the prophets, stood by the Savior because he whom the law and the prophets proclaimed was present in Jesus, the giver of life.

It was by the Father’s good pleasure that his only begotten Son and Word became incarnate; it was by the Father’s good pleasure that the salvation of the world was achieved through his only begotten Son; it was the Father’s good pleasure which brought about the union of the whole universe in his only begotten Son. For humanity is a microcosm linking in itself all visible and invisible being, sharing as it does in the nature of both, and so it must surely have pleased the Lord, the creator and ruler of the universe, for divinity and humanity and thus all creation to be united in his only begotten and consubstantial Son, so that God might be all in all.

‘This is my Son, the radiance of my glory, who bears the stamp of my own nature, through whom I created the angels, through whom the vault of heaven was made firm and the earth established. He upholds the universe by his powerful word, and by the Spirit which proceeds from his mouth, that is the life-giving and guiding Spirit. Listen to him. Whoever receives him, receives me who sent him by the authority not of a stern master but of a father. As a man he is sent, but as God he abides in me and I in him. Whoever refuses to honor my only begotten Son refuses to honor me, his Father who sent him. Listen to him, for he has the words of eternal life.’

From a homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos by St. Gregory of Palamas

But now the Mother of God has her dwelling in Heaven whither she was today translated, for this is meet, Heaven being a suitable place for her. She “stands at the right of the King of all clothed in a vesture wrought with gold and arrayed with divers colors” (cf. Ps. 44:9), as the psalmic prophecy says concerning her. By “vesture wrought with gold” understand her divinely radiant body arrayed with divers colors of every virtue. She alone in her body, glorified by God, now enjoys the celestial realm together with her Son. For, earth and grave and death did not hold forever her life-originating and God-receiving body -the dwelling more favored than Heaven and the Heaven of heavens. If, therefore, her soul, which was an abode of God’s grace, ascended into Heaven when bereaved of things here below, a thing which is abundantly evident, how could it be that the body which not only received in itself the pre-eternal and only-begotten Son of God, the ever-flowing Wellspring of grace, but also manifested His Body by way of birth, should not have also been taken up into Heaven? Or, if while yet three years of age and not yet possessing that supercelestial indwelling, she seemed not to bear our flesh as she abode in the Holy of Holies, and after she became supremely perfect even as regards her body by such great marvels, how indeed could that body suffer corruption and turn to earth? How could such a thing be conceivable for anyone who thinks reasonably’? Hence, the body which gave birth is glorified together with what was born of it with God-befitting glory, and the “ark of holiness” (Ps. 131:8) is resurrected, after the prophetic ode, together with Christ Who formerly arose from the dead on the third day. The strips of linen and the burial clothes afford the apostles a demonstration of the Theotokos’ resurrection from the dead, since they remained alone in the tomb and at the apostles’ scrutiny they were found there, even as it had been with the Master. There was no necessity for her body to delay yet a little while in the earth, as was the case with her Son and God, and so it was taken up straightway from the tomb to a super-celestial realm, from whence she flashes forth most brilliant and divine illuminations and graces, irradiating earth’s region; thus she is worshipped and marveled at and hymned by all the faithful . Willing to set up an image of all goodness and beauty and to make clearly manifest His own therein to both angels and men, God fashioned a being supremely good and beautiful, uniting in her all good, seen and unseen, which when He made the world He distributed to each thing and thereby adorned all; or rather one might say, He showed her forth as a universal mixing bowl of all divine, angelic and human things good and beautiful and the supreme beauty which embellished both worlds. By her ascension now from the tomb, she is taken from the earth and attains to Heaven and this also she surpasses, uniting those on high with those below, and encompassing all with the wondrous deed wrought in her. In this manner she was in the beginning “a little lower than the angels” (Ps. 8:6), as it is said, referring to her mortality, yet this only served to magnify her pre-eminence as regards all creatures. Thus all things today fittingly gather and commune for the festival.


O Lord, as a preparation for your crucifixion, you led some of your disciples to a high mountain and became transfigured before them, enlightening them with light and glory.  In this way, you showed the reality of the resurrection you are to grant us, in your love for humanity and your almighty power as God. Make us worthy of this resurrection, O God, for you are gracious and the Lover of humanity (Byzantine Vespers).

Day 2 (August 7)

And he was transfigured before them,

and his clothes became dazzling white,

such as no one on earth could bleach them (Mk. 9:2b-3).

Scripture:  Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.  Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable (1 Cor. 15:45-49).


A Homily by St. Anastasios of Sinai

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 into 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 first fruits and the whole of the world to come.

Yes, today the Lord has been seen on the mountain; the nature of Adam has been restored to its former beauty, to the image and resemblance of God, after having been lost on the mountains where idolatry prevailed. Today he has donned a divine vestment wrapped in light as with a mantle, he who had put on himself the skin of our humanity. Today, on the mountain of Tabor has appeared as by a miracle the reality of future life and of the Kingdom of joy. Today, the heralds of the Old and of the New Testaments gather in a marvelous way around God carrying astonishing mysteries. Today, on Mount Tabor the mystery of the Cross has been revealed. As he was crucified between two thieves on the Mount of the Skull, the Lord appeared in all his divinity between Moses and Elijah…. The celebration of Transfiguration is a mixture of joy and of lightheartedness. The people who gather to honor the feast that took place on the divine mountain sing in unison with one heart and one mind together with the angels. The assembly dances with the stars, proclaims with the apostles, prophesies with Moses, clamors with Elijah and makes revelations from the roof-tops of mountains. We thunder in the clouds and to the heavens we give our testimony. We sound the trumpet of the rock and convoke Nazareth, and summon Galilee to join the feast. We brighten the feast, and adorn it with praises. We dance with the mountains and intone melodies with young maidens. In honor of the real God, our God, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

On the Dormition of the Theotokos by St. Gregory of Tours

Then, after the wonderful glory of the Lord’s ascension, which inspired the minds of believers to contemplate heavenly affairs by bruising the head of diabolical evilness, the holy apostles of our Lord and Savior gathered with the blessed Mary, his mother, in one house and always shared everything in common. No one said that something was his own, but each always possessed everything in charity, as the holy pen of the Acts of the Apostles narrates [Acts 4:34]. Then they were sent throughout different regions to preach the word of God. Although the blessed Mary had already been called from this world, finally the passage of her life was completed, and all the apostles gathered from their particular regions at her house. When they heard that she must be taken from the world, they all kept watch with her. And behold, the Lord Jesus came with his angels, and after taking her soul he gave it to the angel Michael and left. At dawn the apostles lifted her body on a bed, placed it in a tomb, and kept guard over it, in anticipation of the arrival of the Lord. And behold, again the Lord approached them. He took the holy body in a cloud and ordered it to be brought to Paradise, where, after regaining her soul, Mary now rejoices with his elect and enjoys the goodness of eternity that will never perish.


All you peoples of the earth, sing together a hymn of glory to the pure and most holy Virgin from whom the Word of God came to us, receiving flesh from her in a manner beyond understanding. Let us cry out: “Blessed are you among women, blessed is the womb that contained Christ, in whose hands you committed your soul. O pure Virgin, intercede with Christ that he may save our souls! (Byzantine Vespers)

Day 3 (August 8)

Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him.

They appeared in glory and were speaking of his exodus,

which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep;

but since they had stayed awake,

they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him (Lk. 9:30-32).


Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit…. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us (2 Cor. 3:17-18, 4:6-7).


Homily on the Transfiguration of Christ by St. Luke of Simferopol

Great and uncountable were the wonders of our Lord Jesus Christ: with one word alone He raised the daughter of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue, the son of the widow of Nain, and also Lazarus, who was in the tomb for four whole days. With one word alone, He commanded the winds and the waves of the lake of Gennesaret and they became totally calm. With five loaves and two fish, He fed five thousand men, not counting women and children, and with four loaves, four thousand. Let us remember how, every day, He would heal the sick, curing every form of infirmity, and driving out the evil spirits from the demon-possessed. How again He gave sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf with only one touch. Do these not suffice?

To all of those people hard of hearing and with darkened eyes, however, for whom these were not enough, our Lord Jesus Christ offered the great wonder of His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. To Him Who shone with an astonishing divine light, the prophets of the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah, appeared, and worshipped the Creator of the Law. With fear and trembling, the apostles Peter, James and John saw this wondrous sight. And afterwards, from the cloud which covered them, they heard the voice of God: “This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased. Listen to Him” (Matt. 17:5).

The holy apostles preached throughout the world, that our Lord Jesus Christ is “truly, the radiance of the Father” (Kontakion of the Transfiguration). The whole world, when they heard this, should have knelt before our Lord Jesus Christ, and worshiped the true Son of God.

Encomium on the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos by St. Theodore the Studite

Now the Mother of God shuts her material eyes, and opens her spiritual eyes towards us like great shining stars that will never set, to watch over us and to intercede before the face of God for the world’s protection. Now those lips, moved by God’s grace to articulate sounds, grow silent, but she opens her [spiritual] mouth to intercede eternally for all of her race. Now she lowers those bodily hands that once bore God, only to raise them, in incorruptible form, in prayer to the Lord on behalf of all creation. At this moment her natural form, radiant as the sun, is hidden; yet her light shines through her painted image, and she offers it to the people for the life-giving kiss of relative veneration, even if the heretics are unwilling. The holy dove has flown to her home above, yet she does not cease to protect those below; departing from her body, she is with us in spirit; gathered up to heaven, she banishes demons by her intercession with the Lord.

Long ago, death took charge of the world through our ancestor Eve; but now it has engaged in combat with her blessed daughter and been beaten away, conquered by the very source from whom it had received its power. Let the race of women rejoice, then, for it has received glory in place of shame! Let Eve be glad, for she is under a curse no more, having produced in Mary a child of blessing. Let the whole of creation jump for joy, drinking the mystical flood of incorruption from that virgin spring and putting an end to its mortal thirst. These are the things we celebrate today, this is the subject of our solemn song: Mary provides it for us—the root of Jesse who bore the flower Christ; the rod of Aaron with its sacred bud; the spiritual Paradise containing the tree of life; the meadow alive with the fragrance of virginity; the blooming vine, cultivated by God, which became the ripe grape flowing with life, the high, exalted cherubim-throne of the universal king; the home full of the glory of the Lord; the sacred veil of Christ; the bright land of sunrise. She has fallen asleep in peace and righteousness—fallen asleep, I say, but she is not dead! She has passed on from us, yet she does not cease to protect her people.


God and Father of Jesus, you transfigured your Chosen One and in heavenly light revealed him as your Son.  Open our ears to the living Word and our eyes to his glorious presence, that we may be strengthened in time of fear and uncertainty, and one day pass over to share your glory.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.  Amen. (Collects in Contemporary Language)

Day 4 (August 9)

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here;

let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them… (Mk. 9:5-7).


For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts (2 Pt. 1: 16-19).


Sermon on the Transfiguration of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ by St. Ephraim the Syrian

He led them up the mountain to show them who the Son is and whose he is. Because when he asked them, ‘Whom do men say the Son of man is?’ They said to him, some Elias, others Jeremias, or one of the Prophets. This is why he leads them up the mountain and shows them that he is not Elias, but the God of Elias; again, that he is not Jeremias, but the one who sanctified Jeremias in his mother’s womb;[4] not one of the Prophets, but the Lord of the Prophets, who also sent them. And he shows them that he is the maker of heaven and earth, and that he is Lord of living and dead. For he gave orders to heaven and brought down Elias, and made a sign to the earth and raised up Moses.

He led them up the mountain to show them that he is the Son of God, born from the Father before the ages and in the last times incarnate from the Virgin, as he knows how, born ineffably and without seed, preserving her virginity incorrupt; for wherever God wills it, the order of nature is overcome. For God the Word dwelt in the Virgin’s womb, and the fire of his divinity did not consume the members of the Virgin’s body, but protected them carefully by its nine month presence. He dwelt in the Virgin’s womb, not abhorring the unpleasant smell of nature, and God incarnate came forth from her to save us.

He led them up the mountain to show them the glory of the godhead and to make known to them that he is the redeemer of Israel, as he had shown through the Prophets, and they should not be scandalized in him when they saw his voluntary sufferings, which as man he was about to suffer for us. For they knew him as a man, but did not know that he was God. They knew him as son of Mary, going about with them in the world, and he made known to them on the mountain that he was Son of God and God. They saw that he ate and drank, toiled and rested, dozed and slept, things which did not accord with his divine nature, but only with his humanity, and so he took them to the mountain that the Father might call him Son and show that he is truly his Son and that he is God.

He led them up the mountain and showed them his kingship before his passion, and his power before his death, and his glory before his disgrace, and his honor before his dishonor, so that, when he was arrested and crucified by the Jews, they might know that he was not crucified through weakness, but willingly by his good pleasure for the salvation of the world.

Homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos by St. John of Kronstadt

We say that our dead have “fallen asleep” or “passed away.” What does this mean? This means that for the true Christian there is no death. Death was conquered by Christ on the cross. But there is a translation, i.e, a rearrangement of his condition, i.e. his soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grave, eternal, without end, that is what is meant by “falling asleep”. It is as if it were a temporary dream after which, by the voice of the Lord and the fearful yet wonderful trumpet of the Archangel, all the dead shall live and come forth each to his place: either to the resurrection of life or to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29). This is what the Christian means by translation. We should be ready for this translation, for the day of the general resurrection and judgment, for this indescribable world event, recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

This preparation for the meeting of the heavenly King before the dread judgment seat, after death, is essentially the person’s preparation throughout the whole of his life. This preparation means a change in all his thoughts, and the moral change of all his being, so that the whole man would be pure and white as snow, washing clean everything that defiles the body and spirit, so that he is adorned with every virtue: repentance, meekness, humility, gentleness, simplicity, chastity, mercifulness, abstention, spiritual contemplation, and burning love for God and neighbor.

Our preparation for meeting the heavenly King, and for the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, should consist of these things. The heavenly King desires souls adorned with immutable virtue, souls prepared so that the Very Lord Himself could abide in them. Do not marvel that the Very Lord wants to live in us. In fact the human soul is more spacious than the heavens and the earth, for it exists in the image of God. And if one removes sins from the soul, the Lord of all will settle in it and will fill it with Himself. “We will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23), says the Lord about the souls who love Him.

And so, ye participants in the Christian feasts, and especially the present feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, ye who are brightly adorned with every virtue and translated to the heavenly kingdom, to Her Son and God, proclaim to each and every one about preparing their souls to be the dwelling place of the Lord, about continual repentance, and about the incorruptible adornment of Christian virtue. Let your death also be unashamed and peaceful, serving as the pledge of a good answer at the dread judgment seat of Christ. Amen.


Lift up your gates, O heaven, to receive with becoming majesty the Mother of the Light that never fades. Through her, salvation was made possible for our human race. She is the one upon whom no one may gaze, to whom no one is able to render sufficient praise. For the special honor that made her sublime is beyond understanding.  Wherefore, O most pure Mother of God, forever alive with your Son, the Source of Life, do not cease to intercede with him that he may guard and save your people from every trouble, for you are our intercessor (Byzantine Vespers).

 Day 5 (August 10)


While Peter was still speaking,

a bright cloud covered them,

and a voice from the cloud said,

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this,

 they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.

 But Jesus came and touched them, saying,

“Get up and do not be afraid.”

And when they looked up,

they saw no one except Jesus himself alone (Mt. 17:5-8).


We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (Rm. 8:28-31)


Sermon on the Transfiguration of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ by St. Ephraim the Syrian (cont’d)

And so on the mountain he showed his Apostles the glory of his divinity, concealed and hidden by his humanity. For they saw his face bright as lightning and his garments white as light. They saw two suns; one in the sky, as usual, and one unusually; one visible in the firmament and lighting the world, and one, his face, visible to them alone. His garments white as light showed that the glory of his divinity flooded from his whole body, and his light shone from all his members. For his flesh did not shine with splendor from without, like Moses, but the glory of his divinity flooded from him. His light dawned and was drawn together in him. Nor did depart somewhere else and leave him, because it did come from another place and adorn him, nor was it for his use. And he did not display the whole depth of his glory, but only as much as the limits of their eyes could encompass.

Simon said, “It is good for us to be here, Lord”. “Simon, what are you saying? If we remain here, who fulfils the word of the Prophets? Who seals the sayings of the heralds? Who brings to perfection the mysteries of the just? If we remain here, in whom are the words, ‘They dug my hands and my feet’ fulfilled? To whom do the words, ‘They parted my garments among them, and cast lots for my clothing’ apply? To whom does, ‘They gave me gall as my food, and with vinegar they quenched my thirst’ relate? Who confirms, ‘Free among the dead?’ If we remain here, who will tear up the record of Adam’s debt? And who will pay his debt in full? And who will restore to him the garment of glory? If we remain here, how will all that I have said to you come to pass? How will the Church be built? How will you take the keys of the kingdom of heaven from me? What will you bind? What will you loose? If we remain here, everything that was said through the Prophets will come to nothing.”

He then said, “Let us make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elias”. Simon was sent to build the Church in the world, and he is making tents on the mountain; for he was still looking at Jesus in human terms, and placed him with Moses and Elias. And besides this he showed him that he did not need his tent, for it was he who had made for his fathers a tent of cloud in the desert for forty years. “For while he was still speaking, a cloud of light overshadowed them”.  “Do you see a tent made without toil, Simon? A tent that prevents heat and contains no darkness? A tent that blazes and shines?"

Homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos by St. Luke of Simferopol

Each of us is tormented with the question: what will happen to us and what awaits us after death? A sure answer to this question we cannot find by ourselves. But Holy Scripture, and first of all the word of our Lord Jesus Christ, reveals the secret to us. I want all of you to understand why the death of the Most-Holy Theotokos and Virgin Mary is called “Dormition”. The great apostle John the Theologian, in the 20th chapter of the Revelation speaks of the first and second death. The first death, which alone is inescapable to all men, also awaits the saints and righteous ones. But the second, the fearsome and eternal death, awaits the great and unrepentant sinners, who denied the love and the righteousness of God and are condemned to eternity in communion with the devil and his angels.

In the Gospel of the same great apostle and evangelist John the Theologian, we read the words of Christ, which are very closely associated with those written in the Revelation: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).

Do you hear this, do you understand this? I think that this probably strikes you as strange, that all those who are obedient to the word of Christ and believe in the Heavenly Father Who sent Him passes immediately after death to eternal life. There is no reason to judge those who have living faith in God and who follow his commandments.

The Most-Holy Virgin Mary was the spotless temple of the Savior in which dwelt the Holy Spirit, and from her most-holy womb the Son of God received His human body, He Who descended from the Heavens. Because of this, bodily death is not death, but a dormition, in other words, an immediate passage from the Kingdom of God within to the Kingdom of the Heavens and to eternal life.

Let us think, brothers and sisters, about the blessed Dormition of the Most-Holy Virgin Mary and remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). May God also make us sinners worthy to experience this great joy, through the joy and love for man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom belong all glory and dominion, with His beginningless Father and His All-Holy Spirit, unto the ages. Amen.


Upon a high mountain, O God of majestic glory, you revealed Jesus in the mystery of his transfiguration as your Son, the Beloved, to whom we must listen.  By the word of his gospel, shining forever as a light in the darkness, give us hope in the midst of suffering and faith to perceive, even in the passion and cross, the glory of the risen Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.  Amen. (Collects in Contemporary Language)