Novena to the Transforming Light (August 6-8; Days 1-3)
August 06, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

Year A

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).
If Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. (1 Cor 15:12-14)
Jesus took the three apostles up into the mountain for three reasons: first, to show them the glory of his divinity: then to declare himself Israel’s redeemer as he had already foretold by the prophets; and thirdly to prevent the apostles being scandalized at seeing him soon afterward enduring the human suffering which he had freely accepted for our sake. The apostles knew that Jesus was a man; they did not know that he was God. To their knowledge he was the son of Mary, a man who shared their daily life in this world. On the mountain he revealed to them that he was the Son of God, that he was in fact God himself. Peter, James, and John were familiar with the sight of their Master eating and drinking, working and taking rest, growing tired and falling asleep, experiencing fear and breaking out in sweat. All these things were natural to his humanity, not to his divinity. He therefore took them up onto the mountain so that they could hear his Father’s voice calling him Son, and he could show them that he was truly the Son of God and was himself divine.
He took them up onto the mountain in order to show them this kingship before they witnessed his passion, to let them see his mighty power before they watched his death, to reveal his glory to them before they beheld his humiliation. Then when the Jews took him captive and condemned him to the cross, the apostles would understand that it was not for any lack of power on his part that Jesus allowed himself to be crucified by his enemies, but because he had freely chosen to suffer in that way for the world’s salvation. He took them up onto the mountain before his resurrection and showed them the glory of his divinity, so that when he rose from the dead in that
same divine glory they would realize that this was not something given him as a reward for his labour, as if he were without it previously. That glory had been his from all eternity with the Father, as is clear from what he said on approaching his freely chosen passion: Father, glorify me now with the glory I had with you before the world came into being. So then, it was the glory of the Godhead hitherto concealed by his human condition which Jesus revealed to the apostles on the mountain. They saw his face shining like the sun, and his clothing white with the brilliance of light. (St. Ephrem the Syrian)

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. (St. Gregory Palamas)


Before Your crucifixion, O Lord,
taking the disciples up into a high mountain,
You were transfigured before them,
enlightening them with the bright rays of Your power:
from love of mankind and in Your sovereign might,
it was Your desire to show them the splendor of Your resurrection!
Grant in Your mercy as the Lover of mankind,
that we too may be counted worthy of this splendor in peace, O God! (Orthodox Vespers of the Transfiguration)
Glorious are your mysteries, O pure Lady:
you were made the throne of the Most High,
and today, you are translated from earth to heaven!
Your glory is full of majesty,
shining with divine brightness!
O virgins, ascend on high with the Mother of the King!
Rejoice, O Full of grace,
the Lord is with you,
granting the world through you great mercy! (Orthodox Vespers of the Dormition)

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).
Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. (1 Cor 15: 20-23)

In the presence of chosen witnesses the Lord unveils his glory, investing with such splendor that bodily appearance which he shares with the rest of the human race that his face shines like the sun and his clothes become white as snow. The primary purpose of this transfiguration was to remove the scandal of the cross from the hearts of Christ's disciples; the greatness of his hidden glory was revealed to them to prevent their faith being shaken by the self-abasement of the suffering he was voluntarily to undergo. In his foresight, however, he was also laying the foundations of the Church's hope, teaching the whole body of Christ the nature of the change it is to receive, and schooling his members to look forward to a share in the glory which had already shone forth in their head. The Lord had told them of this when he spoke of his coming in majesty: “Then shall the just shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”  The blessed apostle Paul bears witness to the same thing: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” And again: “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” He who had been promised beforehand by mysteriously veiled signs was now revealed clearly and distinctly in the radiance of his glory, Still further instruction was to come from the transfiguration to fortify the apostles and perfect their understanding. Moses and Elijah, representing the law and the prophets, appeared in conversation with the Lord. Thus through the presence of these five men the saying was fulfilled: “On the evidence of two or three witnesses every work shall stand.” What could be more firmly established than that Word in whose proclamation the trumpets of Old and New Testaments sound in unison, and the writings of ancient witnesses are in perfect accord with the teaching of the gospel?  The pages of both covenants agree with one another. He who had been promised beforehand by mysteriously veiled signs was now revealed clearly and distinctly in the radiance of his glory, since, as Saint John says. “The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.” In Christ what was promised by prophetic figures and what was signified by legal precepts are alike fulfilled, for by his presence he teaches the truth of the prophecies, and by grace he makes it possible for us to obey the commandments.  May we all therefore be confirmed in our faith through the preaching of the holy Gospel, and let no one be ashamed of the cross by which Christ has redeemed the world. None of us must be afraid to suffer for the sake of justice or doubt the fulfillment of the promises, for it is through toil that we come to rest and through death that we pass to life.  If we continue in the acknowledgment and love of Christ who took upon himself all the weakness of our lowly nature, what he conquered we too shall conquer, and the promise he gave us we shall receive. So then, whether it is to encourage us to obey his commands or to endure hardships, let the Father's voice always be ringing in our ears and telling us: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: listen to him.” (Pope St. Leo the Great)

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.... 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. (St. Theodore the Studite)

O Savior, when You were transfigured upon a high mountain,
having with You the chief disciples,
You shone forth in glorious majesty,
proving that those who surpass in virtue shall be made worthy of divine glory!
Moses and Elijah, talking with Christ,
showed that He is Lord of both the living and the dead;
the God Who spoke of old through the law and the prophets.
And the voice of the Father testified to Him from the cloud of light, saying:
Listen to Him, Who through the Cross has captured Hades//
and has given the dead eternal life! (Orthodox Vespers of the Transfiguration)
The dominions and thrones,
the rulers, principalities and powers,
the cherubim and fearful seraphim,
glorify your falling asleep!
All those who dwell on earth rejoice,
adorned by your divine glory!
Kings fall down and sing with the archangels and angels:
Rejoice, O Full of grace,
the Lord is with you,
granting the world through you great mercy! (Orthodox Vespers of the Dormition)

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).
Someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (1 Cor 15:35)
They were talking to Him about resurrection,
about law, about the suffering ahead.
They were talking as if to remind Him who He was and
who they were. He was not

Like his three friends watching a little way off,
not like the crowd At the foot of the hill.
A grey-green thunderhead massed
from the sea

And God spoke from it and said He was His.
They were talking about how the body, broken or
could live again, remade.

Only the fiery text of the thunderhead could explain it.
And they were talking
About pain and the need for judgement
and how He would make Himself

A law of pain, both its spirit and its letter in His own
and then break it,
That is, transcend it.
His clothes flared like magnesium. (St. John Henry Newman)

Why do you seek in the tomb one who has been assumed to the heavenly courts? Why do you make me responsible for not keeping her? I was powerless to go against the divine commands. That sacred and holy body, leaving the winding-sheet behind, filled me full of sweet fragrance, sanctified me by its contact, and fulfilled the divine scheme, and was then assumed, angels and archangels and all the heavenly powers escorting it. Now angels surround me, and divine grace abounds in me. I am the physician of the sick. I am a perpetual source of health, and the terror of demons. I am a city of refuge for fugitives. Approach with faith and you will receive a sea of graces. Come, you of weak faith. All you that thirst, come to the waters in obedience to Isaiah’s commands, and you who have no money, come and buy for nothing. I call upon all with the Gospel invitation. Let him who longs for bodily or spiritual cure, forgiveness of sins, deliverance from misfortune, the possession of heaven, approach me with faith, and draw hence a strong and rich stream of grace. Just as the action of one and the same water acts differently on the earth, air, and sun, according to the nature of each, producing wine in the vine and oil in the olive-tree, so does one and the same grace profit each person according to his needs. I do not possess grace on my own account. A tomb given up to corruption, an object of sorrow and dejection, I receive a precious ointment, and am impregnated with it, and this sweet fragrance alters my condition whilst it lasts. Truly, divine graces flow where they will. I have sheltered the source of joy, and I have become rich in its perennial fountain.

What shall we answer the tomb? You have indeed rich and abiding grace, but divine power is not restricted by place, neither is the Mother of God’s working. If it were confined to the tomb alone, few would be the richer. Now it is freely distributed in all parts of the world. Let us then make our memory serve as a storehouse of God’s Mother. How shall this be? She is a virgin and a lover of virginity. She is pure and a lover of purity. If we purify our mind with the body, we shall possess her grace. She shuns all impurity and impure passions. She has a horror of intemperance, and a special hatred for fornication. She turns from its allurements as from the progeny of serpents . . . She looks upon all sin as death-inflicting rejoicing in all good. Contraries are cured by contraries. She delights in fasting and continence and spiritual canticles, in purity, virginity, and wisdom. With these she is ever at peace, and takes them to her heart. She embraces peace and a meek spirit, and love, mercy, and humility as her children. In a word, she grieves over every sin, and is glad at all goodness as if it were her own. If we turn away from our former sins in all earnestness and love goodness with all our hearts, and make it our constant companion, she will frequently visit her servants, bringing all blessings with her, Christ her Son, the King and Lord who reigns in our hearts. To Him be glory, praise, honor, power, and magnificence, with the eternal Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. (St. John Damascene)


The mountain that once was veiled in smoke and terrible,
is now holy and revered,
since your feet, O Lord, have stood there!
For Your dread Transfiguration, the mystery hidden before the ages,
has been made manifest in the last times to Peter, James and John.
Unable to endure the shining of Your face and the brilliance of Your garments,
they fell to the ground upon their faces!
Seized with wonder and amazement, they saw Moses and Elijah
talking with You about the things that would befall You;
and a voice came in testimony from the Father saying:
This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: listen to Him!
it is He Who grants the world great mercy! (Orthodox Vespers of the Transfiguration)
At the sovereign command of God
the God-bearing apostles were caught up from every place,
and when they came to your all-pure body from which life has come,
they kissed it with love.
The heavenly powers also came with their master,
and in awe escorted the body all-pure and well-pleasing to God:
the body which had received God in the flesh!
And with dignity they went before and invisibly cried out to the most high powers:
Behold, the Queen of all and the Maiden of God is coming!
Be lifted up, O gates!
And lift up her who is the mother of the Everlasting Light,
for through her was accomplished the salvation of all!
We cannot gaze upon her,
and we cannot render her the honor which is her due,
for her virtue surpasses all understanding!
Therefore, most-pure Theotokos,
who abide forever with your Son, the Life-bearing King,
pray to Him to preserve the new people of God,
and to save them from every attack of the enemy,
for we have acquired your intercession,//
and we bless you in beauty and light forever!  (Orthodox Vespers of the Dormition)