Saturday, February 27, 2010


Be sure to view the images and commentary on the Mass as the "Holy Transfiguration" below the artistic renderings of the Transfiguration and my "mini-homily" on it!

Four wonderful artistic renderings of the Transfiguration:

On this Second Sunday of Lent, we hear the Gospel concerning the Transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus takes Peter, James and John up the holy mountain where He is transfigured and these three apostles come to a clearer understanding about the true Identity and true Nature of Jesus. Obviously, they are quite fascinated by the whole occurrence, wide awake and filled with wonder, fear and awe. They want to remain with Jesus on this mountain top. But Jesus insists that they “come down the mountain” and head toward Golgotha.

These very same apostles, Peter, James and John, are a bit mistaken on what it means to take the road that will lead to Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. After all, they have witnessed the glory of Christ on the mountain top and there is nothing else to fear since Jesus is God.

This might explain why these very same apostles, Peter, James and John cannot remain awake with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Unlike their wide-awake intrigue, fear, wonder and awe on the Mountain of the Transfiguration, in the Garden where Jesus undergoes His agony, they are sound asleep, indifferent to Jesus’ impending passion and death. He’s God after all, be happy, don’t worry, just sleep in “heavenly peace.”

Our lives as Catholics are intimately bound to not only the glory of the Risen Christ, but also His passion and death. We are not yet in heaven. We will continue to get sick, suffer, sin and die because the work of redemption while complete in heaven is not yet complete in this life on this side of our Lord’s Second Coming. All the suffering, sins and deaths of those who ever have lived, are living or will live, are placed on Jesus during His entire earthly existence in the Flesh, beginning with the Incarnation through His passion, death and resurrection. Yet, not until the last person to be conceived will the Lord return, for He suffered and died for everyone who was ever or will be conceived. So we will continue on this side of life to need to be awake not only for the Glory of Christ in the Sacraments and in our lives, but also for the Passion of Christ in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist and in our lives and the lives of others.

This has ramifications for the manner in which we celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Holy Mass. Is it a transfiguration experience for us, where we are filled with wonder, fear and awe, wanting to remain with Jesus or is it like the Garden of Gethsemane for us, where like Peter, James and John, we can't stay awake and drift into oblivious sleep? Maybe our eyes are open, but our hearts far from Jesus' passion, death and resurrection.

What is your spiritual attitude toward these images of our Lord's Transfiguration? It should be like that of Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration, not at the Garden of Gethsemane:

Extraordinary Form Requiem Transfiguration (all Masses celebrate the Passion, death and Resurrection of the Risen Lord!)

Awe, wonder, fear, intrigue at this powerful "Transfiguring" Image?

Every Knee Shall Bow! Does yours?

That's a Grand Candle for the Light of Christ!

The Blessing of the Easter Water for Holy Baptism

Jesus Christ washing away sins in the Easter waters of Holy Baptism:

Washed clean and forgiven by the Blood of Christ, clothed in Glory!

The Sweet Smell of the Holy Spirit penetrating skin, bone, marrow and soul, yes the sweet smell of Godly success! Confirmed in the Holy Spirit!

The Great Easter Vigil Eucharistic Prayer: It is similar to the Transfiguration for at every Mass, all who are redeemed or are being redeemed are present at Mass, including the Church Triumphant, with Moses and Elijah in the presence of the Risen Lord!

The newly baptized and confirmed, along with candidates who were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church and confirmed, with godparents, sponsors and the whole assembly of God's Holy People, witnessing yet another Transfiguration, bread and wine becoming the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Risen Lord, consecrated by Christ Himself as He did at the Last Supper when He instituted the Holy Mass. The Last Supper is where Jesus institutes not only the Mass as the means by which we remember Jesus' Sacrifice on the Cross which He already anticipates on Holy Thursday, but where Jesus ordains the 12 Apostles to be the first priests of the Church who will offer this Sacrifice in "perpetuity" until the Lord returns. Every priest ordained since the Last Supper continues to do this! This Eucharistic Assembly at Easter eagerly awaits receiving Him worthily so that Christ will continue to make them a part of Him whom they receive. The priest, a representative from this congregation, chosen by God, ordained by the Church, is the sacramental sign of Jesus offering Himself as the sacrificial Lamb on the altar of the cross, to His Heavenly Father, who accepts His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, His Sacrifice and all who participate in this Sacrifice at the "Foot of the Cross!" We are there, but in an wonderful, miraculous, unbloody way! The priest at the moment of consecration is the image of Jesus Christ the exclusive High Priest, Good Shepherd and Bridegroom of the Church, all the baptized being Christ's Holy Bride! The ordained priest also represents and offers this Sacrifice on the ordained priest's behalf and all those present who along with the priest offer the sacrifice. Do you have the awe and wonder of these newly baptized in their white robes, washed in the blood of Christ, this image of the heavenly Liturgy portrayed in the Book of Revelation? As newly baptized, they are offering this eternal sacrifice for the first time with their priest who is their visible, priestly mediator and united to them at the Altar of God. Or do you sleep through it?

At Mass, does this sacramental image come to your mind?

The Baltimore Catechism's Imagery, not bad really! How many today realize this?

Do you think that children formed by this type of celebration of a children's Mass view the Mass like Peter James and John at the Transfiguration? NO! Do any of us who take the Mass seriously doubt that this form of celebrating the Mass has diminished or destroyed the faith of more than three generations of Catholics, who as children experience this silliness at Mass and in the classroom? NO!

This is no "fast food meal" folks, this is the Eternal Wedding Banquet of the Lamb! It is the most formal meal imaginable, greater than a White House Dinner, a royal banquet offered by Queen Elizabeth or the first meal of a victim of starvation! This neophyte,with Jesus completing her initiation into the Church by her First Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil approaches in awe and wonder, fear and trepidation, grateful for the experience she is having that is greater than what Peter, James and John experienced on the Mountain of the Transfiguration. Do you realize this good Catholic men and women?

The completion of the Sacraments of Initiation for this Neophyte at the Easter Vigil, sins washed away by Christ in the Waters of Baptism, the sweet smell of the Holy Spirit still present who has seeped into this man's flesh, bone, marrow and indelibly into his soul and now sharing in the Paschal Banquet, the "Meal" of the Mass,thus fully Catholic, fully united to Christ's Body the Church by Jesus Himself who is the Head of the Body. It doesn't get any better than this folks. The transfiguration is but a foretaste of what every Catholic who worthily receives the Lamb experiences!

Receiving the Precious Body and Blood of Christ from the Chalice--this is a Communion in the Blood of Christ poured out for our salvation!

Onward Christian Soldier, led by the cross of Christ to the glory of the resurrection and the eternalwedding banquet of the Lamb.O what it is like to be in that number!

These children are on the way to transfigured glory!

Processing to their First Holy Communion and receiving our Lord as Food. Bread that is Jesus, to nourish and sustain us on our procession to glory; Wine that is Jesus, Who brings joy and warmth to the heart that is redeemed by His Precious Blood!

These children have made their First Holy Communion, you can see the joy on their little faces. May it always be that way for them!

"May the Body of Christ keep you safe until life everlasting!"

"The Blood of Christ"


-Brian said...

A very affecting post Father, with moving utility. It moves one with a message to wake up! Are we awakening to more complacency? Are we awakening to more humanly adaptive measures used to arouse and sustain our faith?

Truly, the priest is a sign, real and evident, for us to behold. Worthily, at every mass his unity with the Word is exposed and revealed for our sake to mediate with the Father and bring us to Him. I believe Father Aiden Nichols echo’s your words, “At the Transfiguration, for one brief moment the body of Jesus and even his clothes became the picture of his soul - his soul as united personally to divine being, to the Word, and, through the Word, to the Father.” The priest truly, is transfigured from within in the same manner during Mass.

As such this living sign, made available to us by Holy Orders, renders and articulates the environment wherein the Bridegroom collects us His bride. Hard thought that, for a man. Quite often, we (as men) are asked during Lent to recollect or _see_ the diverse characterizations or relationships we have featured ourselves in with the Lord. For example; Savior, Brother, Friend, or Priest. It has been consistently answered back to me (by men) when asked, “Have you ever seen yourself in relationship with the lord as a bride?” with the quick response “no”. Yet, for me I have found this to be the most glorious way to relate to him not only in the discipline practiced to acquire that characterization, but also in the fulfillment of that role. It is a characterization that has a utility in unity, for me, it facilitates my surrender and accomplishes my being overwhelmed by the Lord. In this, during meditation, I _sense_ bits and pieces of His blinding glory.

In our Lenten rigors I am reminded again of Fr. Nichols’ words, “the last word in the struggle of the Christian life does not in fact lie with struggle. The last word does not belong to coping with temptation. On the contrary, the last word lies with seeing the glory of God.” In tomorrow’s Liturgy of the Mass I am exposed to this in a church architected with beauty preserved by the people and Pastor. I participate in the public prayer of the Church accented and celebrated with beautiful form and language held firm and delivered by our Pastor. I am awake; not only from somnambulance, not only from complacency, not only from adaptation, but I awaken from my mundane life to the real, concrete existence of divinity and the promise of glory that awaits us.

Anonymous said...

At Mass, does this sacramental image come to your mind?

The image under this queston says it all..truly a picture is worth a thousand words...slam dunk!

The Baltimore Catechism's Imagery, not bad really! How many today realize this?

This is another slam dunk image..we ALL NEED this...where was this when I was growing up???

These might be great for a weekly bulletin or newsletter so as to reach your parishioners who can't/don't follow your blog.

Thank you.

Pater Ignotus said...

Tell me about the "lifting of the chasuble hem"?
How does this (a) glorify God or
(2) communicate the saving mysteries of Jesus the the People of God?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'll leave it to other Pater, to explain the significance of this ritual action. However, the same can be asked of almost any other ritual action, like wearing a hidden stole, vestments, following rubrics, etc. My genuflections are terribly labored now and don't give the same visual glory these once did, so sad!

Gene said...

Pater Ignotus, I am beginning to feel pity for the poor parishioners you serve. Your sophomoric attitude and captious
comments do become tiring after a while. Perhaps you would be happier as a Presbyterian...they, too, have a manifest contempt for the rituals of the Church. Plus, you could then consort with women (unless that is another Church tradition you already disdain), thus providing you with an outlet for your frustration. Gene Williams

Gene said...

Pater, while we are on the subject...when I studied Old Testament under a renowned Protestant scholar at Vanderbilt School of Religion, I once asked him, in a smug response to his statement that every book of the OT has something to teach, "O.k., what on earth do we learn from Leviticus?" He took off his glasses, leaned over the podium, stared me right in the eye, and said, "My dear boy, we learn that God appreciates rubrics!"
Perhaps the same may be said for rituals which may, to us, seem superfluous. And, you may want to check your Old Testament for a review of the consequences visited upon some of those who celebrated these niceties with less than appropriate humility.

Gene said...

"How does this (a) glorify God or (b)communicate the saving mysteries of Jesus to the people of God?"

In the exact same way that incense, candles, the eleveation of the Host, genuflection, and a host of other rituals Glorify God. By our attention to detail in ritual, and by re-enacting these rites as generation upon generation have done before us in the worship of the Church, we acknowledge that we stand before God..."Coram Deo," rather than apart from or over against Him. "Coram Deo" means that we stand before Him as His children...obedient to Him and accountable to Him. The rituals are God's and the Holy Church's gifts to us; they are both our permission and command to come before Him in humility. The structure of gestures and rituals within which we worship are that humility. By coming before Him as a people in the tradition and ritual of the Church, as well as in the tradition of the Children of Israel, we do indeed glorify Him. And, glorifying Him is, indeed,to communicate the saving Mysteries of Jesus Christ to the people of God.
It is easy, from the perspective of Pride, to denigrate or scorn rituals or traditions that may seem to us archaic. The fact is that we are commanded by both Holy Scripture and the Church to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. The rituals and traditions are a part of that Spirit and Truth...the Magisteriun of the Church says so and, dear Pater, that should be good enough for you, me, and everyone else. These things do not exist as a challenge to our intellect, nor do they exist as a condition for our confronting the worship of the Church in some Protestant type dialectic. They are, once again, be accepted "Coram Deo."

Fr. MacDonald, I apologize for being so wordy.

Anonymous said...

Want to come to Queens, NY Father, we could sure use you !! Great pictures, that is how it should always be.