Novena to the Transforming Light (August 9-11; Days 4-6)
August 09, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

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).
As for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. (1 Cor 15: 37-38)
The Savior’s garments radiate light. But what of his face, which shone so brightly? What of the impossible beauty, higher and more precious than all things loveable, which for those who gaze on it is established as a pledge of ceaseless rejoicing. What mind or reason can see or express the hidden, more divine mystery, always incomparably new? For if his garments are such because of the brilliance that gushes forth from within, what must the glory be that is wrapped and hidden by these garments, something beyond our powers to see and know? There is nothing, nothing at all, of the things we can contemplate in creation that will grasp the excess of its brilliance….

If we want to get a sense of what was going on in the heart of Jesus as he climbed the mount of transfiguration, then we have to take into account in what period in Jesus’s life the transfiguration was.  The savior had already preached a good deal in Judea and Galilee; he had proclaimed that the kingdom of God had come, had taught how people were supposed to receive it, had stated clearly enough that he is the promised messiah and the true son of God.  He came unto his own and his own received him not….And so six days before the transfiguration, Jesus had predicted for the first time to the apostles his passion and death. Now we can get some sense of the sort of thoughts and feelings that might surely have filled the heart of the savior as, with his three chosen apostles, in the quiet of the evening he climbed a lone high mountain far from all people and their busy noise.   It will surely have been the feeling of pain over the ingratitude, hardheartedness, and unbelief of his people, thoughts of his coming passion, readiness and resolve for the cross, but also the anxiety and sadness of the Mount of Olives.

What does Jesus, in this mood of the holiest of hearts, then do?  He prays.  He goes away from human beings, he climbs a high mountain in order to hold converse, there in the quiet solitude of the mountain, in the restfulness of the long nights, with his father in Heaven, with his God, in whom that fate is meaningful, in whom even a defeat becomes a victory.  Jesus loved these nights of prayer that bring human beings, their decisions, and their fate before the face of the eternal one.  We read of these nights of prayer before the selection of the apostles, after the many miracles of healing in Capernaum, after the first multiplication of loaves of bread.  So Jesus prayed also in this mood at this period in his life.  There he will have prayed to the Father for his unbelieving people, for his apostles and disciples for faith and strength in the coming days of suffering.  He will have said to his Father: See, I come to do your will.  I am ready to drink the cup, to be baptized with the baptism of suffering.  Yes, it presses down upon me, until it is accomplished…. This, then, is the meaning of the transfiguration for Jesus himself: in the dark night of earthly hopelessness the light of God shines, a human heart finds in God the power which turns a dying into a victory and into the redemption of the world. (Karl Rahner)

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)


Prefiguring Your resurrection, O Christ our God,
You took with You in Your ascent upon Mount Tabor
Your three disciples, Peter, James and John.
When You were transfigured, O Savior,
Mount Tabor was covered with Light!
Your disciples, O Word, threw themselves down upon the ground,
unable to gaze upon the form that none may see.
The angels ministered in fear and trembling;
the heavens shook and the earth quaked
as they beheld on earth the Lord of Glory! (Orthodox Vespers of the Transfiguration)
She who is higher than the heavens
and more glorious than the cherubim,
she who is held in greater honor than all creation,
she who by reason of her surpassing purity
became the receiver of the Everlasting Essence,
today, commends her most pure soul into the hands of her Son.
With her all things are filled with joy and she bestows great mercy on us!
The spotless bride,
the mother of Him in Whom the Father was well pleased,
she who was preordained by God
to be the dwelling place of His union of two natures without confusion
delivers, today, her blameless soul to her Creator and her God.
The spiritual powers receive her with the honors due to God,
and she who is truly the mother of Life departs to Life,
the lamp of the unapproachable Light
the salvation of the faithful and hope of our souls! (Orthodox Vespers of the Dormition)

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).
There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another.  (1 Cor 15:40)
It was the will of the Lord Jesus that Moses alone (although he was accompanied, it is true, by Joshua) should climb the mountain to receive the law. In the gospel too, out of his many disciples he limited the revelation of his risen glory to three: Peter, James, and John. Wishing to put no stumbling block in the way of his weaker followers, whose vacillating minds might prevent them from taking in the full meaning of the paschal mystery, he chose to keep his redemptive plan a secret, and repeatedly warned Peter, James, and John not to talk freely about what they had seen. Peter, in fact, did not know what to say. He thought of setting up three shelters for the Lord and his attendants. Then he found himself unable to bear the brilliance of the glory radiating from his transfigured Lord. Together with those sons of thunder, James and John, he fell to the ground. A cloud enveloped the three of them, and they were unable to rise until Jesus came and touched them, bidding them stand up and dismiss
their fears.
They entered the cloud in order to receive knowledge of hidden, secret matters, and there they heard the voice of God saying: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him. What does This is my beloved Son mean? The implication is as follows. Make no mistake, Simon. Do not imagine God’s Son can be put into the same category as the servants who attend him. This man is my Son, neither Moses nor Elijah can be given that title, even though the one opened up the sea and the other closed the heavens. Both of them exercised dominion over the elements, but it was by the power of the Lord’s word that they did so. They were only servants; it was the Lord who made the waters into a solid wall, the Lord who caused the drought that closed the heavens, and the Lord who, in his own time, opened them to release the rain.
For evidence of the resurrection to be accepted, the combined witness of those servants is required; but when the glory of their risen Lord is revealed, the servants’ aureole is lost in shadow. Sunrise obscures the stars; the light of the heavenly bodies grows pale before the brilliance of the sun shining on this material world. How then could human stars attract notice in the presence of the eternal Sun of Justice and that divine radiance? Where are those luminaries now that used to shine so brightly in your sight on account of a miracle worked in the past? The whole created universe is darkness in comparison with eternal light. Let others hasten to make themselves pleasing to God by serving him, but this man alone is the true and eternal light in which the Father takes pleasure. (St. Ambrose of Milan)

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. (St. John of Kronstadt)


Christ, the Light that shone before the sun,
was on the earth in the flesh.
In a manner fitting His divine majesty,
He fulfilled His fearful dispensation before His crucifixion!
Today, upon Mount Tabor,
He has mystically made known the image of the Trinity.
For taking apart the expressly chosen disciples, Peter, James and John,
He led them up into the mountain alone.
Briefly, He concealed the flesh He had assumed,
and was transfigured before them,
manifesting the original beauty, though short of full perfection.
For He spared them as He assured them, lest seeing, they die.
Yet they saw as far as they could bear it.
He likewise called before Him the chief prophets Moses and Elijah,
who testified to His divinity:
that He is indeed the true brightness of the essence of the Father,
the Ruler of the living and the dead.
Therefore, a cloud covered them as a tent,
and there came the voice of the Father in testimony, saying:
“This is my beloved Son,
Whom I have begotten without change from the womb before the morning star:
I have sent Him to save those who are baptized
in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
and who confess with faith that the one power of the Godhead is indivisible:
Listen to Him!”
O Christ our God, supreme in goodness and the Lover of mankind:
shine upon us with the light of Your unapproachable glory
and make us worthy to inherit Your eternal Kingdom! (Orthodox Vespers of the Transfiguration)
Come, all you ends of the earth,
let us praise the most holy translation of the Mother of God:
for she has delivered her spotless soul into the hands of her Son.
Therefore, the world, restored to life by her holy Dormition,
in radiant joy celebrates this feast with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
together with the angels and the apostles.
Come, all who love to keep the feasts,
come, let us form a choir!
Come, let us crown the Church with songs,
as the Ark of God goes to her rest.
For today, heaven opens wide
as it receives the mother of Him Who cannot be contained.
The earth, as it yields up the source of Life,
is robed in blessing and majesty.
The hosts of angels, present with the fellowship of the apostles,
gaze in great fear at her who bore the Cause of Life,
now that she is translated from life to Life.
Let us all venerate and implore her:
Forget not, O Lady, your ties of kinship
with those who keep in faith the feast of your all-holy Dormition! (Orthodox Vespers of the Dormition)

 Day 6 (August 11)

Suddenly when they looked around,
they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus (Mk. 9:8).
What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Cor 15: 42b-44)
The Lord stretched out His hand and raised them as they lay.  And then “they saw no one but Jesus only.” What does this mean? When the Apostle was read, you heard, “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.” And “tongues shall cease,” when that which we now hope for and believe shall come. When they fell to the earth, they signified that we die, for it was said to the flesh, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.” But when the Lord raised them up, He signified the resurrection. After the resurrection, what is the Law to you? what is Prophecy? Therefore neither Moses nor Elias is seen. Only He remains for you, He who “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” He remains for you, “that God may be all in all.” Moses will be there; but now no more the Law. We shall see Elijah there, too; but now no more the Prophet. For the Law and the Prophets have only given witness to Christ, that it befit Him to suffer, and to rise again from the dead on the third day, and to enter into His glory.  And in this glory is fulfilled what He has promised to those who love Him: “he who loves me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him.” … Great gift! great promise! God holds for you nothing less than Himself. O you covetous one; why isn’t Christ’s promise enough for you? You seem to yourself to be rich; yet if you do not have God, what do you have? Another person is poor, yet if he has God, what does he lack? (Pseudo-Macarius)

Precious the gift this earth of ours sent up to heaven today, sealing a fruitful friendship with an exchange of presents and joining the human to the divine, the earthly to the heavenly, the depths to the heights. The best that earth has ever produced went up to the place whence whatever gifts are worth having, whatever endowments are perfect of their kind, come down to us. And as she has mounted up on high, the blessed Virgin too will make gifts to men. How could she fail to, when she lacks neither the means nor the will? She is the queen of heaven and she is merciful. She is also the mother of God's only Son. Nothing could vouch for her great power and pity so well as that. Otherwise, we should have to believe that God did not honor his mother, or that Mary's heart was not wholly possessed by charity; even though God's Love in person rested in her body for nine whole months.

This I say for our benefit, brethren, knowing as I do how unlikely it is that in such a dearth of love that perfect charity should be found which does not claim its rights. l Not to mention, for the moment, the blessings we obtain from her entry into glory; if we really love her, we shall be glad that she has gone to her Son. Of course, we shall rejoice with her, unless we are content to find no favor with her who found favor with God and God forbid that that should be. When he came into this village, we call the world, she it was who welcomed him; and now today he welcomed her as she entered the holy city. Imagine the honor, the rejoicing, the glory! There was no higher place on earth than Mary's virginal womb, the temple where she received the Word of God. There is no higher place in heaven than the royal throne on which her Son set her today. Fruitful the reception each gave the other. Words fail to express what the mind fails to conceive…. Mary’s assumption, like Christ's birth, is beyond our knowing.  On earth she received more grace than others, and in heaven too her glory is unique. (St. Bernard of Clairvaux)



Moses, who saw God,
and Elijah who rode the fiery chariot across the heavens unconsumed,
beheld You in the cloud at Your Transfiguration, O Christ.
They testified that You are the Maker and Fulfillment
of the law and the prophets.
With them, O Master, count us also worthy of Your light,
that we may sing Your praises unto all ages.
He Who once spoke through symbols to Moses on Mount Sinai
saying: I am He Who is!
Was transfigured, today, upon Mount Tabor before the disciples.
In His own person He showed them the nature of mankind
arrayed in the original beauty of the image.
Calling Moses and Elijah to be witnesses of this surpassing Grace,
He made them sharers in His joy,
foretelling His death on the Cross and His saving resurrection! (Orthodox Vespers of the Transfiguration)
It was right that the eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word
should see the Dormition of His mother according to the flesh:
the final mystery concerning her!
So that they might be witnesses not only to the Ascension of the Savior,
but also to the translation of her who gave Him birth!
Assembled from all parts by divine power, they came to Zion,
and sped on her way to heaven the Virgin who is higher than the cherubim.
We also venerate her, for she prays for our souls. (Orthodox Vespers of the Dormition)