Novena to the Transforming Light (August 6-14; Days 1-5)
August 06, 2022
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).


First of all we must ask, from whence does the Evangelist Matthew begin to reckon with six days? From what sort of day be it? What does the preceding turn of speech indicate, where the Savior, in teaching His disciples, said to them: “For the Son of Man shall come with his angels in the glory of His Father,” and further: “Amen I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt 16:27-28)? That is to say, it is the Light of His own forthcoming Transfiguration which He terms the Glory of His Father and of His Kingdom.

The Evangelist Luke points this out and reveals this more clearly saying: “Now it came to pass about eight days after these words, that He took Peter and John and James, and went up the mountain to pray. And as He prayed, His countenance was altered, and His raiment became a radiant white” (Lk 9:28-29).

But how can the two be reconciled, when one of them speaks definitively about the interval of time as being eight days between the sayings and the manifestation, whereas the other (says): “after six days?” There were eight on the mountain, but only six were visible. Three, Peter, James and John, had come up with Jesus, and they saw Moses and Elias standing there and conversing with Him, so altogether there were six of them.

However, the Father and the Holy Spirit were invisibly with the Lord: the Father, with His Voice testifying that this was His Beloved Son, and the Holy Spirit shining forth with Him in the radiant cloud. Thus, the six are actually eight, and there is no contradiction regarding the eight.

But where the Evangelists seem to contradict one another, they actually point out to us something great and mysterious. In actual fact, why did the one say “after six days,” but the other, in ignoring the seventh day, have in mind the eighth day? It is because the great vision of the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is the mystery of the Eighth Day, i.e., of the future age, coming to be revealed after the passing away of the world created in six days.

About the power of the Divine Spirit, through Whom the Kingdom of God is to be revealed, the Lord predicted: “There are some standing here who shall not taste death, until they have seen the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Mt 16:28). Everywhere and in every way the King will be present, and everywhere will be His Kingdom, since the advent of His Kingdom does not signify the passing over from one place to another, but rather the revelation of its power of the Divine Spirit. That is why it is said: “come in power.” And this power is not manifest to simply ordinary people, but to those standing with the Lord, that is to say, those who have affirmed their faith in Him like Peter, James and John, and especially those who are free of our natural abasement.

Therefore, and precisely because of this, God manifests Himself upon the Mount, on the one hand coming down from His heights, and on the other, raising us up from the depths of abasement, since the Transcendent One takes on mortal nature. Certainly, such a manifest appearance by far transcends the utmost limits of the mind’s grasp, as effectualized by the power of the Divine Spirit.

Thus, the Light of the Transfiguration of the Lord is not something that comes to be and then vanishes, nor is it subject to the sensory faculties, although it was contemplated by corporeal eyes for a short while upon an inconsequential mountaintop. But the initiates of the Mystery, (the disciples) of the Lord at this time passed beyond mere flesh into spirit through a transformation of their senses, effectualized within them by the Spirit, and in such a way that they beheld what, and to what extent, the Divine Spirit had wrought blessedness in them to behold the Ineffable Light. (St. Gregory Palamas)

[Today] the Holy Church solemnly glorifies the honorable Dormition or translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven. A wonderful translation – she died without serious illness, peacefully. Her soul is taken up in the divine hands of Her Son and carried up into the heavenly abode, accompanied by the sweet singing of angels. And then, her most pure body is transferred by the apostles to Gethsemane where it is honorably buried, and on the third day it is resurrected and taken up to heaven. You see this on the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. On it is represented the life-bearing body of the Theotokos laying on a bier, surrounded by the apostles and hierarchs, and in the center of the icon the Lord holding in His hands the most pure soul of the Theotokos. The translation of the Mother of God is a paradigm of the translation in general of the souls of Christians to the other world.  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 person 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.  (St. John of Kronstadt)


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).


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 hearts 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]; 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 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…. 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.  (St. Anastasius of Sinai)

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 people, 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.

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. The kontakion of the great feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos tells us this: “Neither the grave nor death could contain the Theotokos, the unshakable hope, ever vigilant in intercession and protection. As Mother of life, He who dwelt in the ever-virginal womb transposed her to 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. (St. Luke of Simferopol)


Glorious are thy mysteries, O pure Lady. Thou wast made the Throne of the Most High, and today thou art translated from earth to heaven. Thy glory is full of majesty, shining with grace in divine brightness. O ye virgins, ascend on high with the Mother of the King. Hail, thou who art full of grace: the Lord is with thee, granting the world through thee great mercy. 

I shall open my mouth and the Spirit will inspire it, and I shall utter the words of my song to the Queen and Mother: I shall be seen radiantly keeping feast and joyfully praising her Dormition. O ye young virgins, raise now with Miriam the Prophetess the song of departure. For the Virgin, the only Theotokos, is taken to her appointed dwelling-place in heaven. The heavenly mansions of God fittingly received thee, O most holy, who art a living Heaven. Joyously adorned as a Bride without spot, thou standest beside our King and God. 

Neither the tomb nor death had power over the Theotokos, who is ever watchful in her prayers and in whose intercession lies unfailing hope. For as the Mother of Life she has been transported into life by Him who dwelt within her ever-virgin womb. (Orthodox Liturgy)

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).


This marvel of the transfiguration contains another lesson for the apostles, to strengthen them and lead them into the fullness of knowledge. Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, appeared with the Lord in conversation with him. This was in order to fulfill exactly, through the presence of these five men, the text which says: Before two or three witnesses every word is ratified. What word could be more firmly established, more securely based, than the word which is proclaimed by the trumpets of both old and new testaments, sounding in harmony, and by the utterances of ancient prophecy and the teaching of the Gospel, in full agreement with each other?

The writings of the two testaments support each other. The radiance of the transfiguration reveals clearly and unmistakably the one who had been promised by signs foretelling him under the veils of mystery. As Saint John says: The law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. In him the promise made through the shadows of prophecy stands revealed, along with the full meaning of the precepts of the law. He is the one who teaches the truth of the prophecy through his presence, and makes obedience to the commandments possible through grace…. When it comes to obeying the commandments or enduring adversity, the words uttered by the Father should always echo in our ears: This is my Son, the beloved, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him. (Pope St. Leo the Great)

The Mother of God in her resurrected and glorified body is already the completed glory of the world and its resurrection. With the resurrection and ascension of the Mother of God the world is completed in its creation, the goal of the world is attained, “wisdom is justified in her children,” for the Mother of God is already that glorified world which is divinized and open for the reception of Divinity. Mary is the heart of the world and the spiritual focus of all humanity, of every creature. She is already the perfectly and absolutely divinized creature, the one who begets God, who bears God, and receives God. She, a human and a creature, sits in the heavens with her Son, who is seated at the right hand of the Father. She is the Queen of Heaven and Earth, or, more briefly, the Heavenly Queen. (Fr. Sergei Bulkakov)


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).


Inspired by the revelation of the mysteries and taken up by contempt and disgust for earthly things, the apostle Peter was in ecstasy at the desire of eternal things, and, filled with the joy of all this vision, wanted to live with Jesus, there where His glory was manifested. That’s why he said: Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you want, let us make three tabernacles, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah (Matt. 17.4).

But the Lord did not reply to this suggestion, certainly not to show that this desire was bad, but to signify that it was out of place. The world could not be saved without the death of Christ, you see. Thus, the Lord’s example calls on the faith of believers to understand that, no doubt against the promise of happiness, we must nevertheless, in the trials of this life, ask for patience before glory; the happiness of the kingdom can not, in fact, precede the time of suffering. 

Let all people’s faith then be established, according to the preaching of the most holy Gospel, and let no one be ashamed of Christ’s cross, through which the world was redeemed. And let not any one fear to suffer for righteousness' sake, or doubt of the fulfillment of the promises, for this reason, that through toil we pass to rest and through death to life; since all the weakness of our humility was assumed by Him, in Whom, if we abide in the acknowledgment and love of Him, we conquer as He conquered, and receive what he promised, because, whether to the performance of His commands or to the endurance of adversities, the Father's fore-announcing voice should always be sounding in our ears, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear Him.”  (Pope St. Leo the Great)

It was fitting that the Holy Virgin should share in every aspect of her Son’s providential care for all of us. Just as she had given her flesh and blood to Jesus and had received in return a share of his graces, so likewise she shared in his pains and sufferings. When his side was pierced by the lance as he hung on the cross, a sword pierced his mother’s heart, just as saintly Simeon had foretold. After our Savior’s death, she was the first to conform herself to the Son who resembled her; she shared in his resurrection before anyone else.

When her son broke the tyranny of death by rising from the grave, the Virgin saw and heard his greeting. When the time came for him to depart for heaven, she escorted him on the way as far as she could. When, finally, he had gone she took his place among the apostles, uniting herself with the other companions of the Lord by means of her good works. In all this she benefited the entire human race, teaching us by her example and obedience to God’s will.

It was also right for the Virgin’s most holy soul to be separated from her hallowed body, but it was so released only to be united with the soul of her Son. The second light was united with the first and primary one. For a short time, her body remained upon the earth and then it too departed. It had to go everywhere the Savior had gone and shed its light on both the living and the dead. It had to sanctify nature in every respect. Then, at last, it could take its appointed place.

Thus, the grave received her body for a short time but heaven soon took it from the grave as a new earth, a spiritual body, a treasure of our human life more revered than the angels and holier than the archangels. His proper throne was restored to the King, paradise to the tree of life, the sun’s orb to the light, the tree to its fruit, the mother to her son. In every respect she was in accord with her Child.

O blessed one, what words can adequately praise your virtue, let alone the graces you received from Our Savior for the benefit of our entire race! It is impossible to give you fitting praise! It would be so even if one could speak in all the tongues of human beings and angels.

It seems to me that part of the eternal happiness in store for the righteous will be really to know and proclaim your graces in a fitting way. These graces no eye has seen nor ear heard of. To adapt St. John’s words: The world could not contain them. The only place where your marvelous gifts can fittingly be displayed is the new heaven and the new earth, where the sun of Righteousness lives. No darkness is there and there is no evening. The Savior himself will proclaim the worth God has graced us with and the angels will applaud. (Nicolas Cabasilas)


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)


In most holy contemplation we shall be ever filled with the sight of God shining gloriously around us, as once it shone for the disciples at the divine Transfiguration. And there we shall be, our minds away from passion and from earth and we shall have a conceptual gift, of light from Him and, somehow, in a way we cannot know, we shall be united with Him and, our understanding carried away, blessedly happy, we shall be struck by His blazing light. Marvellously, our minds, will be like those in the heavens above. (Pseudo Dionysius the Areopogite)

Mary’s assumption is the pledge of the glory Christ gives to all who are his spouse. He has already shared that glory with his mother. He now asks us to share it too. As St. John says: It has not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, because we will see him as he is. For Mary this has already been fulfilled; her faith has passed into sight. In her we are given the pledge of our God’s seriousness in promising this to all who believe. We shall see God as God is, with Mary, like her already fully like Christ.

If we want to imagine what it is like to be with Christ we have to begin from the fact that it means we won’t be absent from any of those who are still on earth—after all Christ is with them and we will always be with Him. Mary’s blessedness has been made perfect and it doesn’t separate her from us any more than does Christ’s. The same will be true for us. But Christ always stands interceding for us before the Heavenly Father. So does Mary, and so shall we. Everyone, in the bliss of an eternal Eucharist, shall be one of innumerably many bearers of blessing. With her we will ever be united with her Son and our Savior, interceding and bringing blessings upon all. That is God’s will for us, fulfilled already in her. Don’t be afraid! Christ is with us always! (Louis Bouyer)


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)