Second Sunday in Lent
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INSTRUCTION ON THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT. (REMINISCERE)
Taken from Fr. Goffine's Explanations of the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays, Holydays, and Festivals throughout the Ecclesiastical Year 36th edition, 1880

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THE Introit of this day's Mass, which begins with the word Reminiscere, from which this Sunday derives its name, is the prayer of a soul begging God's assistance that her sin may be remembered no more: Remember, O Lord, Thy compassions and Thy mercies, which are from the beginning, lest at any time our enemies rule over us: deliver us O God of Israel, from all our tribulations. To Thee O Lord, have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed. (Ps. xxiv.) Glory be to the Father, &c.


PRAYER OF THE CHURCH. O God, who seest us to be destitute of strength, keep us both inwardly and outwardly; that we may be defended in the body from all adversities, and cleansed in our mind from all evil thoughts. Through our Lord, &c.


EPISTLE. (i Thess. iv. i — 7.) Brethren, we pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us, how you ought to walk, and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more. For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication; that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God: and that no man overreach nor circumvent his brother in business; because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have told you before, and ' have testified. For God hath not called us unto un- cleanness, but unto sanctification; in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Quote:EXPLANATION. From these words we see, that the great Teacher of Nations as carefully showed the Christian congregations the sanctity of their calling, as he labored to lead them from the blindness and abominations of heathenism.

ASPIRATION. Grant, O God, that I may live an honest, chaste and holy life in accordance with my vocation, and go not after earthly and carnal pleasures, as the heathens who know Thee not.



GOSPEL. (Matt. xvii. i — 9.) At that time, Jesus took Peter, and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun, and his garments became white as snow. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here; if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them, and lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them : Arise, and fear not. And they lifting up their eyes, saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man: till the Son of Man be risen from the dead.


Why was Christ transfigured in presence of His apostles on Mt Thabor?
To permit them to see the glorious majesty of His divinity; to guard them from doubts when they should after- wards see Him die on Mount Calvary; to encourage the disciples and all the faithful to be patient in all crosses and afflictions, for the bodies of the just at the resurrection will be made like the glorified body of Christ. (Phil. lii. 21.)


Why did Moses and Elias appear there?
That they might testify, that Jesus was really the Saviour, announced by the law and the prophets, and that the law and the prophets received fulfilment in Him. The former was represented by Moses, the latter by Elias.


Why did Peter wish to build three tabernacles there?
The delightful sweetness of the apparition in which Jesus made him participator so enraptured him, that he knew not what he said, not considering that glory can be attained only through sufferings, the crown through fight, joy through crosses and afflictions.


ASPIRATION. Draw us, O Jesus, to Thee, that by the contemplation of the sacred joys awaiting us, we, by Thy grace, may be not defeated in the spiritual contest, but conquer through Thy grace and carry off the unfading crown of victory.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Reply
#2
Second Sunday of Lent
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875)

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The subject offered to our consideration on this Second Sunday is one of the utmost importance for the holy Season. The Church applies to us the lesson which our Savior gave to three of his Apostles. Let us endeavor to be more attentive to it than they were.

Jesus was about to pass from Galilee into Judea, that he might go up to Jerusalem and be present at the Feast of the Pasch. It was that last Pasch, which was to begin with the immolation of the figurative lamb, and end with the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world. Jesus would have his disciples know him. His works had borne testimony to him, even to those who were, in a manner, strangers to him; but as for his Disciples, had they not every reason to be faithful to him, even to death? Had they not listened to his words, which had such power with them that they forced conviction? Had they not experienced his love, which it was impossible to resist? and had they not seen how patiently he had borne with their strange and untoward ways? Yes, they must have known him. They had heard one of their company, Peter, declare that he was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Notwithstanding this, the trial to which their faith was soon to be put, was to be of such a terrible kind that Jesus would mercifully arm them against temptation by an extraordinary grace.

The Cross was to be a scandal and stumbling block to the Synagogue, and alas! to more than it. Jesus said to his Apostles, at the Last Supper: All of you shall be scandalized in me this night. Carnal-minded as they then were, what would they think, when they should see him seized by armed men, handcuffed, hurried from one tribunal to another, and he doing nothing to defend himself! And then they found that the High Priests and Pharisees, who had hitherto been so often foiled by the wisdom and miracles of Jesus, had now succeeded in their conspiracy against him—what a shock to their confidence! But there was to be something more trying still: the people who, but a few days before, greeted him so enthusiastically with their hosannas, would demand his execution, and he would have to die between two thieves on the Cross, amidst the insults of his triumphant enemies.

Is it not to be feared that these Disciples of his, when they witness his humiliations and sufferings, will lose their courage? They have lived in his company for three years; but when they see that the things he foretold would happen to him are really fulfilled, will the remembrance of all they have seen and heard keep them loyal to him? or will they turn cowards and flee from him?—Jesus selects three out of the number who are especially dear to him: Peter, whom he has made the Rock, on which his Church is to be built, and to whom he has promised the Keys of the kingdom of heaven; James, the son of Thunder, who is to be the first Martyr of the Apostolic College; and John, James’ brother, and his own Beloved Disciple. Jesus has resolved to take them aside, and show them a glimpse of that glory which, until the day fixed for its manifestation, he conceals from the eyes of mortals.

He therefore leaves the rest of his Disciples in the plain near Nazareth, and goes, in company with the three privileged ones, towards a high hill called Thabor, which is a continuation of Libanus, and which the Psalmist tells us was to rejoice in the Name of the Lord. No sooner has he reached the summit of the mountain, than the three Apostles observe a sudden change come over him; his Face shines as the sun, and his humble garments become white as snow. They observe two venerable men approach, and speak with him upon what he was about to suffer in Jerusalem. One is Moses, the lawgiver; the other is Elias, the Prophet, who was taken up from earth on a fiery chariot, without having passed through the gates of death. These two great representatives of the Jewish Religion, the Law and the Prophets, humbly adore Jesus of Nazareth. The three Apostles are not only dazzled by the brightness which comes from their Divine Master; but they are filled with such a rapture of delight that they cannot bear the thought of leaving the place. Peter proposes to remain there forever, and build three tabernacles, for Jesus, Moses and Elias. And while they are admiring the glorious sight, and gazing on the beauty of their Jesus’ human Nature, a bright cloud overshadows them, and a voice is heard speaking to them: it is the voice of the Eternal Father, proclaiming the Divinity of Jesus, and saying: This is my beloved Son!

This transfiguration of the Son of Man, this manifestation of his glory, lasted but a few moments; his mission was not on Thabor; it was humiliation and suffering in Jerusalem. He therefore withdrew into himself the brightness he had allowed to transpire; and when he came to the three Apostles, who, on hearing the voice from the cloud, had fallen on their faces with fear—they could see no one save only Jesus. The bright cloud was gone; Moses and Elias had disappeared. What a favor they have had bestowed upon them! Will they remember what they have seen and heard? They have had such a revelation of the Divinity of their dear Master!—is it possible than when the hour of trial comes, they will forget it and doubt his being God? and when they see him suffer and die, be ashamed of him and deny him? Alas! the Gospel has told us what happened to them.

A short time after this, our Lord celebrated his Last Supper with his Disciples. When the Supper was over, he took them to another mount, Mount Olivet, which lies to the east of Jerusalem. Leaving the rest at the entrance of the Garden, he advances with Peter, James, and John, and then says to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me. He then retires some little distance from them and prays to his Eternal Father. The Hear of our Redeemer is weighed down with anguish. When he returns to his three Disciples, he is enfeebled by the Agony he has suffered, and his garments are saturated with Blood. The Apostles are aware that he is sad even unto death, and that the hour is close at hand when he is to be attacked: are they keeping watch? are they ready to defend him? No: they seem to have forgotten him; they are fast asleep, for their eyes are heavy. Yet a few moments, and all will have fled from him; and Peter, the bravest of them all, will be taking his oath that he never knew the Man.

After the Resurrection, our three Apostles made ample atonement for this cowardly and sinful conduct, and acknowledged the mercy wherewith Jesus had sought to fortify them against temptation, by showing them his glory on Thabor, a few days before his Passion. Let us not wait till we have betrayed him: let us at once acknowledge that he is our Lord and our God. We are soon to be keeping the anniversary of his Sacrifice; like the Apostles, we are to see him humbled by his enemies and bearing, in our stead, the chastisements of Divine Justice. We must not allow our faith to be weakened, when we behold the fulfillment of those prophecies of David and Elias, that the Messias is to be treated as a worm of the earth, and be covered with wounds, so as to become like a leper, the most abject of men, and the Man of sorrows. We must remember the grand things of Thabor, and the adorations paid him by Moses and Elias, and the bright cloud, and the voice of the Eternal Father. The more we see him humbled, the more must we proclaim his glory and divinity; we must join our acclamations with those of the Angels and the Four-and-Twenty Elders, whom St. John (one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration) heard crying out with a loud voice: The Lamb that was slain, is worthy to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and benediction!

The Second Sunday of Lent is called, from the first word of the Introit, Reminiscere; and also Transfiguration Sunday on account of the Gospel which is read in the Mass.

The Station at Rome is in the Church of St. Mary in Dominica on Monte Celio. Tradition tells us that in this Basilica was the Diaconicum of which St. Laurence had charge, and from which he distributed to the poor the alms of the Church.

Mass

The Church, in the Introit, encourages us to confidence in God, who will deliver us from our enemies, if we ask it of him with fervent prayer. There are two favors which, during Lent, we ought to beseech him to grant us: the pardon of our sins, and his help to avoid a relapse.

Introit
Reminiscere miserationum tuarum, Domine, et misericordiæ tuæ, quæ a sæculo sunt: ne unquam dominentur nobis inimici nostri: libera nos, Deus Israël, ex omnibus angustiis nostris. 
Ps. Ad te, Domine, levavi animam meam: Deus meus, in te confido, non erubescam.
℣. Gloria Patri. Reminiscere. 

Remember, O Lord, thy bowels of compassion, and thy mercies that are from the beginning of the world. Let not our enemies ever rule over us: deliver us, O God of Israel, from all our distress.
Ps. To thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul; in thee O my God, I put my trust, let me not be ashamed.
℣. Glory. Remember.


In the Collect, we beg of God to watch over us in all our necessities, both of body and soul. If our prayer be humble and earnest, it will be granted. God will provide for us in our corporal necessities, and will defend our souls against the suggestions of our enemy, who strives to sully even our thoughts.

Collect
Deus qui conspicis omni nos virtute destitui, interius exteriusque custodi: ut ab omnibus adversitatibus muniamur in corpore, et a pravis cogitationibus mundemur in mente. Per Dominum. O God, who seest how destitute we are of all strength, preserve us both within and without, that our bodies may be free from all adversity, and our souls purified from all evil thoughts. Through, &c.

The first and second Collects are given on the First Sunday of Lent.

Epistle
Lesson from the Epistle of St. Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians. I Ch. iv.

Brethren: We pray and beseech you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us, how you ought to walk and to please God, so also you would walk, that you may abound the more. For you know what precepts I have given to you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor, not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles, that know not God; and that no man over-reach, nor circumvent his brother in business; because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, as we have testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto sanctification.

Quote:Here the Apostle shows what manner of life should be followed by Christians; and the Church, by repeating his words, exhorts the Faithful to profit of the present Season of grace, and regain all the beauty of the image of God, which the grace of Baptism first gave them. A Christian is a vessel of honor, formed and enriched by the hand of God; let him, therefore, shun whatsoever would degrade his noble origin, and turn him into a vessel of dishonor, fit only to be broken and cast with the unclean into the sink of hell. The Christian Religion has so far ennobled man that even his very body may share in the soul’s sanctity; on the other hand, she teaches us that this sanctity of the soul is impaired, yea, altogether effaced, by the loss of the body’s purity. The whole man, therefore, both body and soul, is to be reformed by the practices of this holy Season. Let us purify the soul by the confession of our sins, by compunction of heart, by the love of God; and let us give back its dignity to the Body, by making it bear the yoke of penance, that so it may be, henceforth, subservient and docile to the Soul, and, on the day of the general Resurrection, partake in her endless bliss.

In the Gradual, man cries out to his God to deliver him from the evils that threaten him, and give him victory over the invisible enemy, who so cruelly humbles and insults him.

The Tract is both a canticle of confidence in the divine mercy, and a prayer addressed by the Church to her Savior, beseeching him to visit and save her faithful children on the great Feast, which is still so far off, but towards which each day brings us nearer.

Gradual
Tribulationes cordis mei dilatatæ sunt: de necessitatibus meis cripe me, Domine. 
℣. ide humilitatem meam et laborem meum: et dimitte omnia peccata mea.

The distress of my soul is increased: deliver me, O Lord, from my necessities.
℣. See to what I am reduced, see what I suffer: and forgive me all my sins.

Tract
Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus: quoniam in sæculum misericordia ejus. 
Give glory to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

℣. Quis loquetur potentias Domini, auditas faciet omnes laudes ejus? 
℣. Who shall declare the powers of the Lord? who shall set forth all his praises?

℣. Beati qui custodiunt judicium et faciunt justitiam in omni tempore. 
℣. Blessed are they that keep judgment, and do justice at all times.

℣. Memento nostri, Domine, in beneplacito populi tui: visita nos in salutari tuo. 
℣. Remember us, O Lord, in favor of thy people: visit us with thy salvation.


Gospel
Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew. Ch. xvii.

At that time: Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them: Arise and be not afraid. And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of Man shall be risen from the dead.

Quote:Thus did Jesus encourage his Apostles, when the time of temptation was near; he sought to impress them with his glory, that it might keep up their faith in that trying time when the outward eye would see nothing in his person but weakness and humiliation. Oh! the loving considerateness of divine grace, which is never wanting, and shows us, in so strong a light, the goodness and the justice of our God! Like the Apostles, we also have sinned; like them, we have neglected to profit of the help that was sent us from heaven; we have shut our eyes against the light; we have forgotten the fair vision that was granted us, and which made us so fervent and happy—and we fell. We have not, then, been tempted above our strength, and it is indeed our own fault that we committed sin. The three Apostles were exposed to a terrible temptation, when they beheld their Divine Master robbed of all his majesty; but how easy for them to resist the temptation, by thinking of what they had seen but a few days before? Instead of that, they lost their courage, and forgot prayer, which would have brought their courage back; and thus, the favored witnesses of Thabor became cowards and deserters n the Garden of Mount Olivet. There was but one thing left them to do—throw themselves upon the loving mercy of their Jesus, as soon as he had triumphed over his enemies; they did so, and his generous Heart pardoned them.

Let us imitate them here too. We have abused the grace of God and rendered it fruitless by our want of correspondence. The fountain of this Grace is not yet dried up; as long as we are in this world, we may always draw from this source, which comes from the Blood and merits of our Redeemer. It is Grace that is now urging us to the amendment of our lives. It is given to us in abundance during the present time, and it is given mainly by the holy exercises of Lent. Let us go up the mountain with Jesus; there, we shall not be disturbed by the noise of earthly things. Let us there spend our forty days with Moses and Elias, who, long before us, sanctified this number by their fasts. Thus, then the Son of Man shall have risen from the dead, we will proclaim the favors he has mercifully granted us on Thabor.

In the Offertory, the Church bids us meditate on the commandments of God. Would that we might love them as fervently as the Royal Prophet, whose words these are!

Offertory
Meditabor in mandatis tuis, quæ dilexi valde: et levabo manus meas ad mandata tua, quæ dilexi. I
 will meditate on thy law, which I have loved exceedingly: and I will practice thy commandments, which I have loved.


The holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a source of devotion: let us, as the Church, in the Secret, prays we may, profit by our todays assistance at it. It contains the pledge and price of Salvation, and if we put no obstacle in the way, will complete our reconciliation with our Lord.

Secret
Sacrificiis præsentibus, Domine, quæsumus, intende placatus: ut et devotioni nostræ proficiant, et saluti. Per Dominum. 
Look down, O Lord, we beseech thee, on this our sacrifice, that it may increase our devotion, and procure our salvation. Through, &c.

The second and third Secrets are given on the First Sunday of Lent.


The penitent soul, having seen how this ineffable Mystery has given her to enjoy the presence of Him who is her Savior and her Judge, offers to him her prayers with all the fervor of confidence. She says to him these words of the Psalmist, which form the Communion Antiphon:

Communion
Intellige clamorem meum: intende voci orationis meæ, Rex meus et Deus meus: quoniam ad te orabo, Domine. 
Understand my cry, hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God! for to thee will I pray, O Lord!


In the Postcommunion, the Church prays especially for those of her children who have partaken of the Victim she has just been offering. Jesus has nourished them with his own Flesh; it behooves them to prove themselves worthy of him by the renewal of their lives.

Postcommunion
Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus, ut quos tuis reficis Sacramentis, tibi etiam placitis moribus dignanter deservire concedas. Per Dominum. 
Grant, we humbly beseech thee, O Almighty God, that those whom thou hast refreshed with thy sacraments, may worthily serve thee in the conduct of their lives. Through, &c.

The second and third Postcommunions are given on the First Sunday of Lent.


We may close our Sunday by reciting the following beautiful prayer taken from the Mozarabic Breviary.
Capitulum
(In II. Dominica Quadragesimæ.)
Christe Deus, luminis perenne principium, qui septimum diei curriculum sanctificatione potius, quam operatione voluisti ese confitentium; quærimus ecce faciem tuam, sed impedimur conscientiæ nostræ tenebra consueta: conamur adsurgere, sed relabimur in mœrorem; non ergo ebjicias te quærentes, qui non quærentibus apparere dignatus es. Ecce dierum nostrorum decimas sancto tuo Nomini annuis recursibus per solventes, septimum nunc ex ipsis decimis peregimus diem; da ergo nobis adjutorium in hujus laboriosi itineris via, quo inlibata tibi nostra dedicentur obsequia: ut labores nostros amoris tui desiderio releves, et socordiam sensus nostri fervida dilectionis tuæ ubertate exsuscites: ut in te vita nostra non habeat casum, sed fides inveniat præmium. 

O Jesus, our God! Eternal first beginning of light! who willedst that thy servants should devote the seventh day to sanctification, rather than to work; lo! we come, seeking how we may find thee, but we are prevented by the habitual darkness of our conscience; we make efforts to arise, but we fall back again, and are dejected. Therefore, we beseech thee, cast not away from thy face them that seek thee, for thou didst deign to show thyself to them that did not seek thee. Now is the season of the year, when we are offering to thy holy Name a tithe of our days; and of these days, seven are passed; grant us thine assistance in the path of this fatiguing journey, that so our proffered homage may be without blemish. Sweeten our toil by filling us with an ardent love of thy Majesty, and awaken us from the sluggishness of the body, by the fervent abundance of thy charity. May our life, being thus in thee, know no faltering, and our faith find its reward.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Reply
#3
Commentary of Fr. Cornelius a Lapide on today's Gospel [The Transfiguration] from Matthew, Chapter 17: 1-9
Taken from here.

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Douay Rheims Version - Matthew 17:1-9
AND after six days Jesus taketh unto him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart:
2. And he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow.
3. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him.
4. And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
5. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him.
6. And the disciples hearing fell upon their face, and were very much afraid.
7. And Jesus came and touched them: and said to them: Arise, and fear not.
8. And they lifting up their eyes, saw no one, but only Jesus.
9. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.


And after six days, &c. There seems to be here a discrepancy with Luke ix. 28, who says, it came to pass about an eight days after these things. S. Jerome answers, “The solution is simple, because in S. Matthew the intervening days are given; in S. Luke there is an addition of the first and the last day.” Matthew then and Mark do not count the first day, in which Christ spoke what we have heard, and gave the promise of His Transfiguration; nor yet the last and eighth, because Christ was transfigured on the morning of it. Luke indeed only counts the entire days, and therefore says, about. Christ put off His promised Transfiguration for six days that, as S. Chrysostom says, the rest of the disciples might not feel any movement of envy. The second reason for delay was because Christ wished to be transfigured on Mount Tabor, which is distant from Cæsarea Philippi twenty leagues. Christ therefore journeying slowly according to His custom, occupied six days in preaching in the villages and country intervening. Rabanus gives a third and mystical reason—that it might be signified that the resurrection, of which the Transfiguration was a type, should take place after the six ages of the world. Origen gives a fourth reason, that it might be signified, that he alone, who transcends all worldly things (for the world was made in six days) is able to ascend above the mount on high and to behold the WORD of God.

Peter, James, and John: “He took up these three,” says S. Chrysostom “because they were greater than the rest.” Christ selected these three Apostles, and manifested His glory to them, because He willed to show the same His weakness and agony in the garden, lest they should be offended at it, and that they might know that Christ thereby was proceeding to the glory which had been shown to them. For from this glory, and from the Father’s words This is My Son, they might know assuredly that Christ was very God; but that He was hiding His Deity beneath the veil of the flesh; and that although he suffered and died upon the cross, His Deity neither suffered nor died. And He who could communicate so great a glory to His body, was indeed able to rescue that body from death if He so willed. Hear Damascene (Orat. de Transfig.): “He took Peter wishing to show him that the testimony which he had borne was confirmed by the testimony of the Father; and because he was about to become the president of the whole Church. He took James because he was about to die for Christ. John, because he was, as it were, the most pure instrument of theology, that beholding the glory of the Son of God, which is not subject to time, he might declare, In the beginning was the Word.”

James, &c. This was James the Greater, who was the first of the Apostles to suffer martyrdom. S. Augustine (in cap. 2. ad Galat.) seems by a slip of memory to have thought that this was the Lord’s brother.

Mystically. These three denote that those whom God prefers above others to behold the vision and glory of Himself are of a threefold order. Peter denotes the fervent in charity; John, a virgin, signifies virgins; James, the first martyr among the Apostles, denotes those who suffer, and martyrs. Wouldst thou then see God? Be thou a Peter, i.e., firm in virtue; be thou a John in chastity; be thou a James by mortifying thy vices.

Into a high mountain, &c. This mountain, by its loftiness, represents the height of the empyrean and of the celestial glory; and to teach, tropologically, says Remigius, “that it is necessary for all who desire to contemplate God, that they must not wallow in grovelling pleasures, but by love of things above must be lifted up to heaven. Moreover they are led up by themselves apart, because holy men are separated from the wicked in their minds, and by the intention of their faith, and shall be wholly separated in the world to come.” For, as Bede says, they who expect the fruit of the resurrection ought to dwell in their mind in high places, and give themselves up to constant prayer.

You will ask what mountain this was? The common opinion is that it was Mount Tabor. This is the opinion of the Fathers and of the faithful, so that it appears to be a tradition of the Church; and therefore Mount Tabor is accounted by Christians to be holy. It was made famous by pilgrimages, as S. Jerome testifies (Epist. 27.). For all who make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, visit Tabor equally with Bethlehem, Mount Calvary, and Olivet. Thus S. Paula, twelve hundred years ago, when visiting the holy places, visited Tabor. For as S. Jerome says eloquently in her epitaph, “She climbed Mount Tabor, on which Christ was transfigured.”

That Christ was transfigured on Tabor is taught expressly by S. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catech. 12), Damascene (Serm. de Transfig.), Bede and Euthymius, Abulensis, Maldonatus, Jansen, Adrichomius (Descript. terræ sanct.) and others, passim. Damascene confirms this from the words in Psalm lxxxix, 12, “Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in Thy Name.” For Hermon rejoiced when it heard the Father’s voice at the Baptism of Christ; Tabor, when it saw Christ transfigured upon it. Then Tabor contended with the empyrean, being as it were the image and the theatre of celestial glory. For as the p248 blessed behold the glory of God in heaven, so the Apostles beheld the glory of Christ on Tabor. Bede says, that in memory of Christ’s transfiguration in the presence of Moses and Elias three tabernacles were built on Mount Tabor, according to Peter’s wish, Let us make here three tabernacles. Nicephorus (lib. 8, cap. 30.) adds that S. Helena erected a splendid church on Tabor in memory of the Transfiguration. To this temple were afterwards joined two monasteries, one dedicated to Elias, the other to Moses.

Christ chose Tabor for the manifestation of His glory, 1. because it was near to Nazareth, where He was conceived, and the WORD was made Flesh. 2. Because Tabor is nigh to Sharon, concerning which Isaiah sings (xxxv. 2): “The glory of Lebanon is given unto it, the beauty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord and the excellency of our God.” 3. Because Tabor is an exceeding high mountain. Josephus (lib. 4, de bello, c. 2) says it is 30 stadia in height, or nearly four Italian miles. 4. Because as Bede says, Tabor is in the middle of the Galilean plain, three miles to the north of Gennesaret. It is round on all sides, rising with a gentle elevation from the plain; it is covered with grass and flowers, and is exceedingly pleasant; it is a sort of paradise. Adrichomius adds that the climate of Tabor is exceedingly salubrious; it is planted all over with vines, olives, and various sorts of fruit and other trees. It is verdant with constant dews, with the foliage of trees and green grass; and is always fragrant with the odour of all kinds of flowers. There is there a vast concourse of birds, who make delicious melody with their songs. On the exact spot of the Lord’s Transfiguration there is at present a garden, planted with trees and irrigated by fountains and surrounded by a wall. The people who live at the foot of the mountain do not allow anyone to approach this spot out of reverence and devotion.

Symbolically: Tabor in Hebrew is the same as bed of purity and light. תא, ta means bed, and אור or, light, and the beth in the middle signifies in. Thus it is, the bed in light. S. Jerome (Hosea, c. 5) gives another meaning. Tabor, he says, means the coming light. Again, Tabor may be translated, ta, i.e., a bed and bor, i.e., a cistern or sepulchre; because on Tabor Moses and Elias spake of the decease of Christ. For by this way Christ must needs go to His glory and to Heaven, and we must go by the same way. Luke adds, Christ went up into the mountain to pray; and it came to pass whilst He was praying the fashion of His countenance was altered, that He might show us the fruit of prayer—namely, that in prayer we are suffused with heavenly light, and are, as it were, transfigured; and instead of earthly are made celestial and divine; and instead of men become angels. Moses was a type of this when he talked with God upon Mount Sinai, and the glory of the Lord appeared unto him, and there were horns (i.e., rays of light) on his face. But this splendour of Moses came from without; but the glory of Christ from within, i.e., from His soul and Deity.

And was transfigured, &c. Greek, μετεμορφώθη, i.e., was transformed. So also the Syriac. The Arabic is, He showed His glory in their presence.

You will inquire after what manner Christ was transfigured? I take it for granted that nothing was done here in a fanciful or fantastic manner, or in the way of illusion. There could be nothing of this sort in Christ.

I say, then, in the first place—Christ did not transfigure Himself before His three Apostles to manifest His Divinity to them, as He does to the saints in Heaven; for it cannot be beheld by any means with eyes of flesh. So the Fathers, passim. Wherefore Tertullian, SS. Chrysostom, Leo, and Damascene (who seem to speak otherwise) only mean to say that Christ showed His Apostles the external glory of His body, which was an index of His Divinity; that by it, as through a chink, they might in some sort behold the glory and majesty of His Godhead, even though veiled by the body.

2. Christ in His transfiguration did not change the essential form, fashion, colour, or other qualities of His countenance, but—as Euthymius rightly observes—He assumed a marvellous and, as it were, Divine splendour, so that He shone like the sun, yea with even greater and more august glory. Wherefore Matthew, explaining the expression He was transfigured, subjoins and his face did shine like the sun. And Luke, The fashion of His countenance was altered, i.e., was bright and luminous. (See S. Thomas 3, p. q. 45.) By transfiguration, therefore, is meant that Christ transformed the external appearance of His face into a more glorious and august one. For Christ did not upon this occasion assume the other endowments of a glorified body—such as impassibility, swiftness, and so on—but of glory only.

Here observe, in the first place, that this glory of Christ pertained not only to His face, but to His hands also and His whole body, as S. Jerome clearly teaches (Epist. 61, ad Pammach.). For although Abulensis and others think that only the face of Christ shone, since Matthew and Mark make mention only of it, it is better to understand that the entire Body of Christ was resplendent, because it was a full and perfect transfiguration. Whence the glory passed to His raiment. So S. Ephrem (Orat. de Transfig.): “His raiment became white. Verily the Evangelist shows that the glory emanated from His whole body, and rays of glory shone from all His members.” S. Augustine (lib. 3 de Mirabil. S. Script. c. 10) says: “As the Divinity shone outwardly through the flesh, so also the flesh, being illuminated by the Divinity, was radiant through His garments.” This is the opinion also of S. Ambrose (in Symb. c. 22), Origen (in cap. ix. Levit.), Barradi, Suarez, and others; some of whom think that this splendour penetrated Christ’s whole body and rendered it translucent. But others, with greater probability, think that the glory pertained only to the superficies of His Body; and that that is the meaning of the word Transfiguration—that is, a change of the figure, which has to do with what is external. This splendour was celestial, yea more than celestial; it was divine and beatific, such as belongs to glorified bodies. Wherefore it was golden and glorious, like the sun; but yet it gave refreshment to the eyes, and did not take away the sight of Christ from His Apostles. In this it was different from the light of the sun.

Note, secondly, that this splendour, as well as the other gifts of a glorified body, appertained to the body of Christ throughout the whole time of His life, from the very moment of His Conception. Nevertheless, in order that Christ might suffer and have His conversation among men, this glory and all the other gifts which I have spoken of were held back, as it were, in the beatified soul of Christ, so that it did not infuse them into His body by means of a physical emanation. Otherwise they would have shone through His body, like light through a lantern. This repression, therefore, was a miracle. And the cessation of this repression in the transfiguration, and emanation of the interior splendour into the body of Christ was the cessation of a miracle. But to men it seemed to be a miracle, because it was new, and they were ignorant of the cause. Wherefore Christ possessed this glory of His body by a double right, namely, in right of the Hypostatic Union, and also by the title of merit. For by so many sufferings and labours He merited this glory of His body, and at His resurrection He received it in perpetuity, as theologians teach, passim. Wherefore what some persons have thought—that Christ always possessed this glory and these gifts in His body, but that they were not visible to men on account of the infirmity of human sight; even as some say the glory of the bodies of the blessed would be invisible to the eyes of mortals, unless some new power of sight were given them—this opinion, I say, is not probable because that light of the glorified body is corporeal, and therefore, in a higher degree, visible to the eyes of all.

Lastly the Transfiguration happened on the 6th of August, on which day the Church commemorates it. Ammonius, Baronius, Jansen, Suarez, and others, agree that it took place in the thirty-third year of Christ’s life, which was the third and last of His preaching.

You will ask in the second place, why Christ was transfigured? I answer: 1, that by means of this glory and brightness, and by the testimony of Elias and Moses He might prove His Divinity to His Apostles. 2. That he might forewarn His disciples not to lose confidence, when they should behold Him nailed to the cross. 3. That He might indicate that He shall come after this manner with great power and majesty to judge the world. So S. Ephrem, Cyril, and Damascene, S. Basil (in Psalm 45), and others. Wherefore also Elias appeared, who will be the precursor of Christ when He comes to judgment. 4. That He might animate the faith and hope and courage and zeal of the Apostles and the rest of the faithful bravely to undergo all crosses for the sake of the Gospel through the hope of obtaining the like glory at the resurrection. Thus S. Leo says, “The Lord was transfigured, that He might take away the scandal of the cross from the hearts of His disciples.” And S. Chrysostom adds, that the least of the blessed in Heaven has greater brightness and glory than Christ had at His Transfiguration; because Christ attempered His glory to feeble eyes and the capacity of the, as yet, mortal Apostles. They whom the truth of the celestial glory irradiates count as utterly worthless all the pomps and vanities of this world. Wherefore S. Francis was wont to say, “So great is the glory which I expect, that every kind of affliction is delightful to me.

Symbolically: This Transfiguration represents the varied and wonderful transformations of the WORD incarnate, as it were a Divine Proteus. For Christ was four times transfigured. First in His Incarnation, when the WORD being made flesh, shone in it as a light in a lantern. 2. On the Cross, on which He was so deformed with stripes and nails and spitting, that as Isaiah says, “He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we saw Him, He had no beauty.” (c. liii.) 3. In the Resurrection, when He was crowned with glory and honour. 4. In the Eucharist, where he lies hid under the forms of bread and wine, and seems to be, as it were, transfigured into them. For transubstantiation is a sort of transfiguration of the accidents.

Anagogically: Christ here wished to give a representation of our resurrection glory, when He will re-fashion our bodies to be like unto the body of His glory.

Tropologically: Christ wished, in the first place, to give a type of the transfiguration of a soul dark with sins into that light of grace by which we are made like unto Christ. For our transfiguration standeth in likeness, or configuration unto Christ; that we should be conformed unto Christ in all humility, charity and obedience; that we should be living images of the life and holiness of Christ; that we should think, speak, and act with such piety, gravity, and zeal as Christ did; that whosoever sees us should think that he beholds Christ in us. Again Christ here gives a representation of the transfiguration by which a soul passes from a lower degree of holiness to a higher degree. For Christ who was already holy was transfigured. This transfiguration is more infrequent and more difficult than the former. For Saints often flatter themselves on account of their sanctity, and as it were rest in it, and do not aspire to higher sanctity, as sinners and penitents aspire to righteousness. It is less frequently, says a Father, that any one is transfigured from less to greater sanctity, than from sin to holiness. It can only take place in the mountain, and by going aside with Christ, that is to say, by frequent and fervent prayer and meditation. For in them the mind is illuminated by God, and draws as through a pipe celestial light, by means of which it conceives fresh ardour to reform its ways, yea to be transformed into Christ, that with S. Paul it may say, “The world is crucified unto me. I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” And with S. Francis, it would imprint the five wounds of Christ, if not in its body, yet in the inmost recesses of its soul.

Prayer, then, is the transfiguration of the soul. 

1. Because in it the soul receives light from God, that she may know Him and herself and all things more clearly.

2. By it the soul seeks and obtains grace to blot out the stains and vices by which she is deformed. In it she receives consolation for desolation; out of weakness she is made strong; from slothful she becomes fervent; for perplexity, she hath understanding, for sadness, gladness; and for cowardice, courage.

3. She is raised above herself, and is lifted up to God in heaven, where she learns and sees that all the things of earth are fragile and worthless, so that from her lofty height she looks down upon them as fit only for children. She perceives that the true riches, honours and pleasures are nowhere but in heaven.

4. In prayer she unites herself to God. For, “he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” (1. Cor. vi. 17.) Hence S. Francis, when he prayed, was lifted up on high, and could speak, think of and love nothing else save God. “My God and all,” he was wont to say, “Grant me, 0 Lord, to die for love of Thy love, Thou who didst deign to die for love of my love!” This is what S. Paul says, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2. Cor. iii. 18.)

Lastly, Mark intimates that Christ was not sitting, nor kneeling, but standing, when He was transfigured: When they awoke, they beheld His glory, and two men standing with Him who was standing likewise. Hence it follows that Christ was not lifted up into the air, as some painters represent Him, but was transfigured as He stood upon His feet.

His raiment became white—some read, as the light: thus the Greek, ώς τὸ φω̃ς. Thus also the Syriac and the Arabic. The Egyptian has, His face shone gloriously like the sun; His raiment also was resplendent after the fashion of the sun. The Ethiopic has, His garments were like crystal. But the Vulg. reads with the Persian ώς Χιών, like snow. This is the reading of some Gr. MSS. in this place, and of all in Mark ix. 3. For snow is properly said to be white, and light, shining: although snow not only is white, but also shines. Abulensis (quest. 42 et seq.) is of opinion that this brightness of Christ’s raiment was a true and real property: and that therefore the colour of His garments was changed, in such manner that if they were previously black, they were made white, and if they were previously white, they became whiter still: and that when the transfiguration was over they returned to their former condition.

S. Mark’s words seem in favour of this opinion, And His raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them.

Christ’s garments therefore had two properties; namely a snow-like whiteness like a fuller’s, and a supernatural splendour bestowed upon them by God. The far more general opinion is that the whiteness was identical with the brightness. For brightness is white, but it adds splendour to the whiteness. And this refulgence, by the operation of God, flowed forth as it were from the flesh of Christ into His garments, and thus prevailed over, and as it were swallowed up their natural colour, if it were not white originally. Wherefore this glory in the face and the body of Christ was golden and shining, as in the sun. And when it was transfused to His clothes, it became white, as the moon appears to be white, when illuminated by the sun’s rays. And the sun itself appears white, when it shines through clouds. Thus Tertullian (lib. iv. cont. Marc. c. 22.) So S. Ephrem, and many others. We shall get a full and adequate meaning by uniting both opinions, and say that the garments of Christ were indeed made white, through that snowlike whiteness which God now bestowed upon them, and that they were likewise resplendent through the brightness infused into them by means of the radiant face and flesh of Christ. For this is what Luke means when he says, His raiment was white and glistening. Gr. ε̉ξαστράπτων, ie., like lightning, darting rays like lightning. Whence it is plain that there was in the garments of Christ not only whiteness like snow, but a brightness like lightning. For white is the most perfect colour; and light, or splendour is the most noble of all sensible qualities; and lightning has the nature of fire, and is the most penetrating of all things,

Tropologically: the garments of Christ are the Saints. They adorn Him like clothes: and like snow they are chaste and shine through their purity.

And behold there appeared, &c. You will ask why these two appeared, rather than any of the other prophets? Maldonatus answers, because these two shall precede Christ’s second Advent to Judgment, when He shall come in His glorious Majesty, of which the Transfiguration was a type. This is true with respect to Elias, but wrong with regard to Moses, as I have shown on Rev. xi. 3 and 4, where I have proved that Enoch, not Moses shall come with Elias against Antichrist.

I say then, that the reason was because Moses was the legislator of the Old Law, and Elias was the prince of the Prophets. Wherefore he represents the whole choir of the Prophets. These two appeared then, that they might show that Christ was the true Messiah, the Saviour of the world promised by the Law and the Prophets. By Moses the Law is shown to end in Christ, and prophecy by Elias; and that both had accomplished their work, and had given place to Christ as the new Lawgiver and Prophet sent from God, and promised by all the Prophets, but especially by Moses, in those words, “A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up from the midst of your brethren, like unto me: and I will put My words in His mouth.” (Deut. xviii. 18.) Thus SS. Jerome, Chrysostom, Ambrose. S. Jerome adds that Moses and Elias were blessed with this vision, because like Christ they had fasted forty days and forty nights. Hence Tertullian, Origen, Nazianzen and others think this vision of Christ’s Humanity in the transfiguration was represented and promised to Elias when God manifested Himself to him by the breath of a gentle gale (1 Kings xix. 12 and to Moses, when he asked to see God’s face, and God said to him, “Thou shalt see My back parts, but My Face thou canst not see.” (Exodus xxxiii. 23.) This cannot be true in a literal, but only in a symbolical sense.

S. Thomas (3 p. quæst. 45, art. 3, ad 2) gives six other reasons: 1. Because the multitudes said that He was EIias, or Jeremias, or one of the Prophets, He took the chief of the Prophets with Him, that he might declare the difference between the Master and the servants. 2. Because Moses gave the Law, and Elias was jealous for the glory of the Lord: since therefore they appeared with Christ, they excluded the calumny of the Jews, that Christ was a blasphemer of the Law, and that He usurped to Himself the glory of God. 3. He showed that He had the power of life and death, and is the judge of quick and dead, because He had with Him Moses who was dead and Elias who was yet alive. 4. Because, as Luke says, they spake of his decease, that is, of His Passion and Death. Therefore that He might, in reference to this, strengthen the minds of His disciples, He brings before them those who had exposed themselves to death for God’s sake. For Moses presented himself before Pharaoh at the peril of his life, as Elias did before Ahab. 5. Because He wished His disciples to imitate the meekness of Moses and the zeal of Elias. 6. Because He would show that He was preached both by the Law and the Prophets.

You will ask—how and in what manner did Moses and Elias appear? It is agreed by all that it was Elias himself who appeared in his own body. For Elias was taken up to Heaven in a chariot of fire, and is still alive, that he may come again and contend with Antichrist. From Paradise, therefore, or from the place to which he was translated, he was suddenly transferred by an angel to Mount Tabor, that he might converse with Christ in His Transfiguration. With respect to Moses there are various opinions which I have reviewed on the last chapter of Deuteronomy. It is certain, as I have there shown, that Moses is dead, and has not as yet risen again. Some think that this was not Moses who really appeared, but an angel in the form of Moses. But this is certainly an error, says Suarez, because Moses is introduced as a witness of Christ; and a witness must bear testimony in his own person. None therefore of the expositors say that this was not Moses but an angel, except the Gloss on Luke ix. 30, which S. Thomas thinks is taken from the author of The Miracles of Scripture (lib. 3, caps. 10 & 13). Jansen thinks it more probable that this Gloss is derived from S. Augustine (lib. de cura pro mortuis), where S. Augustine expresses himself as doubtful whether the apparitions of the departed take place by themselves appearing, or by means of angels; or rather, as he says, in both ways. But he expresses no doubt as to the appearance of Moses in this place. Yea, even Calvin, although he says it is probable that this was the spectre of Moses, adds that it is more probable that it was the real soul of Moses. The soul then of Moses was translated from Limbus by an angel to the earth. And when Moses was arrived thither, he came to Tabor to Christ, and assumed a body, either formed by an angel out of air, as Lyra, Salmeron, and S. Thomas think, or else resumed his own body, so that he rose again. And thus the soul of Moses was led by an angel to his sepulchre, and there his ashes were collected by the angel and formed into a body, to which the power of God re-united his soul. And thus it was the true and living Moses, whom the angel transferred from his sepulchre to Mount Tabor. For it was meet that in witnessing to Christ, everything should be real and solid, and that Christ by thus raising up Moses should show that He is both the Lord and the judge of the quick and the dead. This is the opinion of Tertullian, Origen, Irenæus, and others; whom Suarez cites and follows (3 p. q. 45, disp. 22, sect. 2). If you follow this opinion, and suppose that Moses rose again, you must suppose that he again died, and that he again rose with others after the Resurrection of Christ. For Christ was the first of all who arose unto the life immortal.

Observe, Christ communicated His glory and splendour to Moses and Elias. Wherefore Luke says, Moses and Elias were seen in glory.

Talking with Him: Luke adds, and spake of His decease. The Greek for decease is not έκστασις (as though the ecstatic love of Christ, which drove Him to the cross, were signified, as some pious people have thought), but έξοδος, i.e., going forth—namely, from Jerusalem, and from this life, by the death of the cross on Mount Calvary. This Moses and Elias here foretold to Christ in the hearing of the Apostles, that they might take away, both from them and us, the offence of the cross. Thus it is that some—with S. Chrysostom—instead of έξοδον read δόξαν, i.e., glory; for on the cross Christ chiefly manifested His power and glory. Wherefore at that time the sun was darkened, the rocks rent, the earth quaked.

Peter answered . . . it is good (that is, pleasant, sweet, and blessed), &c. Peter here—exulting in the glory and, as it were, intoxicated—desired to abide in it, and enjoy it always; whence the Arabic translates, it is good that we should remain here. Damascene well observes, “It is not good for thee, 0 Peter, that Christ should tarry there: if He did, thou wouldst not obtain the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, nor would death have been abolished. Seek not felicity before the time, as Adam sought to be a god.”

Theophylact remarks, We must not say with Peter, it is good for us to be here, since we ought ever to be going forward, and not remain in one degree of virtue and contemplation, but we ought to pass on to others.

You will ask how Peter knew that the two persons who were talking with Jesus were Moses and Elias? I answer, first, that he might have recognised them from what they said. For Moses seems to have said to Christ—Hail, Messiah, our Saviour! Thou art He Whose Passion I prefigured by so many sacrifices, especially by the slain Lamb and the Passover. Elias may have said, Thou art He Whose resurrection I set forth by the widow’s son whom I recalled to life, and Whose ascension I prefigured when I was caught up to Heaven in a chariot of fire.—It may be also, that Christ addressed them by their names.

2. Peter might have recognised them by their appearance and dress, as they were described in Scripture and the tradition of the elders. Thus, Elias might be known by his leathern girdle and sheepskin, wherewith he was wont to be clothed. Moses might be known by his horned face. Indeed, if we can believe Origen, Moses appeared with the tables of the Law, Elias with a chariot of fire.

3, and most probably, Peter knew them by Divine inspiration. You will ask why Peter desired that these three tabernacles should be made, since the blessed do not need tabernacles? I reply, Peter said this towards the close of the Transfiguration, when Moses and Elias were about to depart, in order that he might detain them. For Luke says, And it came to pass as they were departing from Him, Peter said, &c.; as though he said, “0 how sweet and delectable it is to abide in this vision! Wherefore, 0 Christ, suffer not Moses and Elias to go away; and that we may keep them, let us make them a habitation, a tabernacle for each, in which they may abide.” It was for them, not for himself and James and John, he wished the tabernacles to be made. Mark adds, for he knew not what he said. It was as though Peter being inebriated with the sweetness of this vision, in order that he might prolong it, spoke, as if bereft of reason, things incongruous. He was in a sort of delirium. And that, first, because he thought Christ in His glory, as well as Moses and Elias, needed tabernacles, and three of them, as though one would not have sufficed. Again, he put Moses and Elias on an equality with Christ. 2. Because he wished Christ to remain on Tabor, and to shut up Him who is the good of the universe on this mountain 3. Because, being as yet subject to death and suffering, he desired to enjoy with James and John alone that blessedness to which God, through Christ, designed to bring an innumerable multitude after this life. 4. Because he wished to have glory before labour, a crown before the battle, joy before the cross, when it behoved Christ and Christians first to suffer, and so to enter into their glory. For the cross is the way and the ladder to happiness. 5. Because he placed his happiness in the sight of the glorified Humanity of Christ, not in the vision of the Godhead. If, therefore, Peter had beheld the glory of the Divinity and the abyss of all joy and all goodness, what would he have said? For this vision and pleasure of Peter were sensible and corporeal, and were only like a single crumb or drop in comparison with the joy and pleasure, which the blessed experience in beholding God, when they immerse themselves in Him as in a sea of delight, and are swallowed up in it, according to those words of the thirty-sixth Psalm: “They shall be inebriated from the fatness of Thine house, and Thou shalt give them to drink of the torrent of pleasure.” Moreover, this vision of the glory of Christ, of Moses, and of Elias raised in the disciples not only vast pleasure, but wonder and reverence likewise, and a kind of sacred dread. Where- fore Mark says, they were sore afraid.

While he was yet speaking. Observe Luke has, while he was yet speaking, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they feared as they entered into the cloud. Which Toletus explains thus: Whilst Peter is saying Let us make here three tabernacles, the cloud (contradicting him) interposed between Christ, Moses, and Elias on the one part, and the disciples on the other, and thus overshadowed them—that is to say, the disciples; and the glory of Christ, dazzling the eyes of the disciples, was tempered by the intervention of this cloud, so that He could be more easily seen by them. And they—i.e., the disciples—feared when they entered into the cloud; i.e., when they beheld the cloud embracing Christ and Moses and Elias, and themselves shut off from them by the cloud. They feared, I say, because they saw that they were on the outside of the cloud, and because they were alone, and there was no one to defend them in case any evil should befall them. Or else they feared lest Christ and Moses and Elias should go somewhere else, or lest He should be carried away from them into Heaven, as Elias had been carried away in his chariot of fire.

2. Barradi thinks that the cloud came after the departure of Moses and Elias, for Luke had previously said concerning them (verse 33), And it came to pass as they departed from them, Peter said, &c. After that, the cloud overshadowed them, i.e., Christ and the disciples, who were left alone. And they feared, because they saw themselves entering into the cloud, girt round about with it, and they did not know what was about to happen to them.

Instead of, as they entered into the cloud (Luke ix. 34), the Syriac translates, when they saw Moses and Elias, who were entering into the cloud. And instead of, as they departed from Him, the Arabic has, and when they wished to go away from Him.

You will ask, from whence, and why was this cloud? The answer is, it was made by God through the instrumentality of an angel, by the condensation of air and vapour, that by it he might correct Peter’s wish concerning the three tabernacles, by showing that Christ had no need of such things, forasmuch as His throne is a light and glorious cloud. Wherefore it is more probable that, as Franc. Lucas thinks, Peter, James, and John were within, not on the outside of this cloud: for the disciples were near to Christ and were His house and family. And for this very reason were these three Apostles brought up to the top of Tabor, that they might be sure witnesses to the rest of the Apostles and to the faithful what things were done in the cloud round about Christ; and especially might bear testimony to God the Father’s voice, This is my Son. Therefore it was meet that they should see and hear all those things plainly and visibly, without a veil, or cloud, so that they might be eye and ear witnesses, above all suspicion of possibility of having been deceived, or mistaken. Moreover, the cloud is not only the veil, but the symbol of the glory of God. Hence of old time God was wont to manifest His incomprehensible majesty to the Hebrews, as is plain from Exod. xix. 9, and other passages. Wherefore the cloud is called the Ascention, or the chariot of God (Psalm civ. 3): also His tabernacle, His throne, and the seat not only of His majesty, but of the omnipotence of God, and the supreme power of His working. For from the clouds He hurls against His enemies hailstones and whirlwinds, thunderings and lightnings. (Psalm xviii. 12, &c.) Hence also when Christ shall come to judge the world, He will come in the clouds of Heaven. This cloud therefore was as it were an instrument for the voice of God the Father; an ornament and grace for Jesus Christ: and for the Apostles a covert.

Moreover with reference to this cloud, Toletus is of opinion that Christ was transfigured in the night, during the time of sleep. And this was why, as Luke says, the eyes of the Apostles were heavy: therefore too Christ’s transfiguration appeared the more wonderful. For so great splendour is more marvellous by night than it would be by day. But others, with greater probability, think Christ was transfigured at the dawning of the day. They assign two reasons: first that what was done might not seem to be the work of magic or nocturnal spectres. Secondly, because Christ came for works of light: and the eyes of the Apostles were heavy on account of fatigue. Lastly, the dawn is on the confines between light and darkness. It is a delightful hour, and so the symbol of glory.

The cloud was bright, 1. As an indication of the glory of Christ. Whence Cajetan thinks that this cloud derived its brightness from the light and glory of the body of Christ; or better, because by it was represented the glory and majesty of the Father whose voice was heard. Whence Peter calls this cloud (2 Peter i. 17) the excellent glory of the Father, Who spake out of it; and Who by means of it increased the glory of the transfiguration of Christ. This cloud therefore was full of majesty and glory.

2. For the signification of the difference between the Old Law and the New. In the Old Law, God appeared to the Jews in a black cloud, because that Law was full of shadows and terrors. In the New Law, He appears in a bright cloud, because the New Law brings truth, glory and love. So S. Chrysostom, Theophylact and Damascene On the Transfiguration.

And behold a Voice, &c. The Voice, namely, of God the Father to Christ. Observe, 1., with S. Chrysostom, Ambrose, Toletus, and others, that it is plain from Luke ix. 34 et seq. that this voice sounded from a cloud high above the earth. Wherefore S. Peter in his Epistle speaks of it as coming from heaven. It must have come after the departure of Moses and Elias. And with this object, that it might be perfectly clear and certain to the Apostles that this voice was addressed to Christ alone, and not to Moses, or Elias, who had now gone away, inasmuch as this voice was a work, ad extra, to use the expression employed by theologians, it proceeded from the whole Trinity. The voice was formed by an angel, since God makes use of His angels for these exterior works.

Observe. 2. That in this transfiguration, equally as in the Baptism of Christ, the Trinity was symbolically represented. The Holy Ghost was represented by the cloud, the Father by the voice, the Son by the Divine glory and brightness, by which likewise was set forth the Incarnation of the WORD. For Christ was seen as man, and by the splendour and the voice of God the Father it was signified that He was also God. The Holy Ghost was adumbrated by the cloud, because He, like a bright cloud, enlightens man, protects him, and makes him fruitful to every good work. He also blesses and glorifies. Hence in the Baptism of Christ, the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove, because in Baptism He gives innocence. But in the Transfiguration, which is a type of the resurrection, He came under the appearance of a cloud, because He gave then, and will give in the resurrection security from all evils.

This is My beloved Son: “Two pleasant words,” says S. Cyprian (de Baptismo), “Son and Beloved, coming from the mouth of God, are impressed upon our senses, that the association of names may unite us in the community of gifts, and such great names of sweetness may soften our minds, and kindle the ardour of devotion.” Moreover, “ God the Father said not, 'in this is My Son,’ lest One from Another being placed apart, they should be supposed to be divided: but that according to the dispensation of Their union They should be simply taken to be One and the same,” says the Council of Ephesus (ex prosphonet. Cyril Imperator)

Beloved, Syriac, most Beloved. There is an allusion to Ps. xxix. 4. “The Voice of the Lord is in magnificence, &c., and beloved as a son of the unicorns.” I have explained the various analogies between Christ and a unicorn on 2 Pet. i. 17.

Hear him, not Moses, who has gone away, but Christ, as the new legislator of the New Law. These words, hear Him were not said of Christ at His Baptism, because He was then for the first time shown to the world; but now He is set forth as a Teacher and Lawgiver. Therefore (as Tertullian, S. Leo, Damascene, and others maintain) these words denote the abrogation of the Old Law, and the inauguration of the New.

And when the disciples heard, &c. 1. Because this cloud seemed to them to portend something new, strange, and Divine. 2. Because (as the Syriac has) they beheld Moses and Elias going away and entering into the cloud, and through it vanishing from their sight. 3. They were afraid when they heard the voice, because (as Abulensis says) it was as loud as thunder; and though it was a sweet voice, yet its echoing reverberation terrified them. Thus, too, S. Ephrem says: “At the sound of this voice the Apostles fell flat upon the earth; for terrible was the thunder, and the voice shook the earth.” And S. Jerome says: “Human weakness cannot sustain to bear the sight of this great glory; trembling both in mind and body, it falls to the ground.” Origen, S. Chrysostom, and Euthymius add—that being struck with fear they fell upon their faces, that they might worship God, and make supplication unto Him that the thunder and lightning might not strike them.

When they lifted up their eyes, &c. This signified symbolically that the Law and the Prophets had disappeared now that Christ was present, and that He Who brought to men the true light of the Gospel alone remained. Again: this glory and delight of the Transfiguration quickly passed away, but Christ would show that all things in this world—even those that are lofty and divine-are transient, but that in Heaven they will be eternal, so that we may pant after it; for on earth all things are measured by time, but in Heaven they possess an enduring eternity.

Note: SS. Matthew, Mark, and Luke relate the history of the Transfiguration differently; but the following is a series and order of circumstances, which will reconcile the Evangelists one with another. 1. Christ prayed. In the meantime the disciples, being heavy with sleep, from the fatigue of ascending the mountain and the length of Christ’s prayer, whilst they were sleeping, He was transfigured. 2. Moses and Elias came, and talked with Christ concerning His death upon the cross, which He was to accomplish at Jerusalem. 3. The Apostles, being roused from sleep by the brightness and the talking, beheld the glory of Christ, and Moses and Elias conversing with Him. 4. When their conversation was ended, and they made as though they were going away, Peter being (as it were) inebriated with pleasure and grieving at their departure, sought to make three tabernacles. 5. There came the cloud, obscuring Moses and Elias; and then the voice speaking to Christ, This is My beloved Son, when the Apostles, being affrighted, fell to the earth; and were presently comforted and raised up by Christ; and, lifting up their eyes, saw Jesus alone.

And as they were coming down, &c.—to no one. Not only to the people, as S. Jerome says, but not even to the other Apostles; that they might not give them an occasion of sorrow or envy because they were not present with Peter and James and John at the Transfiguration. So Damascene: “lest the madness of envy should drive the traitor to fury.” Whence Mark says, they kept the matter close between themselves. The reason why Christ enjoined upon them this silence was, because there would a fitting time come for the revelation of this mystery; and because the Apostles would understand and believe it when—after His Passion and death, in which they would be scandalized and troubled—they were about to behold Him rising again in glory, of which this Transfiguration was a type. For by Christ’s resurrection they were about to understand of a surety that Christ underwent the death of the cross for us—not because He was compelled, but voluntarily, out of His exceeding love; and that now—being endowed with glory—He will come to judgment at the end of the world, and will crown with the same glory those who (after His example and precept) have denied themselves, have borne the cross, and in following Him have lost their lives for the sake of His love.



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"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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#4
Second Sunday of Lent
Text from Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene's Divine Intimacy

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PRESENCE OF GOD
O Jesus, grant that Your grace may triumph in me and make me worthy to participate in Your glorious Transfiguration!


MEDITATION
1. The soul of Jesus, personally united to the Word, enjoyed the Beatific Vision, which has as its connatural effect the glorification of the body. But this effect was impeded by Jesus, who, during the years of His life on earth, wanted to resemble us as much as possible by appearing "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Rom 8:3). However, in order to confirm the faith of the Apostles who were shaken by the announcement of His Passion, Jesus permitted some rays from His blessed soul to shine forth for a few brief instants on Thabor, when Peter, James, and John saw Him transfigured: "His face did shine as the sun and His garments became white as snow." The three were enraptured by it, and yet Jesus had revealed to them only one ray of His glory, for no human creature could have borne the complete vision.

Glory is the fruit of grace: the grace possessed by Jesus in an infinite degree is reflected in an infinite glory transfiguring Him entirely. Something similar happens to us: grace will transform us "from glory to glory" (2 Cor 3:18), until one day it will bring us to the Beatific Vision of God in heaven. But while grace transfigures, sin, on the other hand, darken and disfigures whoever becomes its victim. Today's Gospel (Mt 17: 1-9) brings out the close connection between the transfiguration and the passion of Jesus. Moses and Elias appeared on Thabor on either side of the Saviour. They conversed with Him, and as St. Luke explains, talked specifically about His coming Passion: "They spoke of His decease, that He should accomplish in Jerusalem" (Lk 9:31).

The divine master wished to teach His disciples in this way that it was impossible - for Him as well as for them - to reach the glory of the Transfiguration without passing through suffering. It was the same lesson that He would give later to the two disciples at Emmaus: "Ought not Christ suffered these things and so to enter into His glory?"(Lk 24: 26). What has been disfigured by sin cannot regain its original supernatural beauty except by way of purifying suffering.

2. In ecstasy before the vision on Thabor, Peter cried out with his usual eagerness, "It is good for us to be here," and offered to make three tabernacles: one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elias. But his proposal was interrupted by a voice from heaven: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him!" and the vision disappeared.

Spiritual consolations are never an end in themselves, and we should neither desire them nor try to retain them for our own satisfaction. Joy, even that which is spiritual, should never be sought for itself. Just as in heaven, joy will be the necessary concomitant of possessing God, so too on earth, it should be nothing but a means, enabling us to give ourselves with greater generosity to the service of God. To Peter, who wanted to stay on Thabor in the sweet vision of the transfigured Jesus, God Himself replied by inviting him to listen to and follow the teachings of His beloved Son. The ardent Apostle would soon learn that following Jesus meant carrying the Cross and ascending Calvary with Him. God does not console us for our entertainment but rather for our encouragement, for our strengthening, for the increase of our generosity in suffering for love of Him.

The vision disappeared; the Apostles raised their eyes and saw nothing "nisi solum Jesum," save Jesus alone, God alone. Everything else - consolations, helps, friendships (even spiritual ones), understanding, esteem, encouragement (even from Superiors) - may be good to the extent that God permits us to enjoy them. He very often makes use of them to encourage us in our weakness; but if, through certain circumstances, His divine hand takes all these things away, we should not be upset or disturbed. It is precisely at such times that we can prove to God more than ever - by deeds and not by words only - that He is our All and that He alone suffices. On these occasions the loving soul finds itself in a position to give God one of the finest proofs of love: to be faithful to Him, to trust in Him, and to persevere in its resolution to give all, even if, by removing His gifts, He has left it alone. The soul may be in darkness, that is, subject to misunderstanding, bitterness, material and spiritual solitude combined with interior desolation. The time has come to repeat, "Jesus alone," to come down from Thabor with Him, and to follow Him with the Apostles even to Calvary, where He will suffer, abandoned not only by men, but even by His Father.


COLLOQUY
"You only do I love, my God. You only do I wish to seek and to follow; I am ready to follow You alone. I wish to be entirely at Your disposal. I beg You to order and command whatever You will, but cure me, open my eyes, that I may see Your slightest gesture. Cure me completely, that I may recognize You. Tell me which way to turn my attention in order to see You; and I hope that I shall be able to do all that You command me" (St. Augustine).

O Jesus, destroy sin in me, the sin which has disfigured Your face and disfigured my soul created in your image and likeness. But to bring about this destruction, I must share Your Calvary, Your Cross. Deign then, O Lord, to unite to Your Passion all the sufferings, little or great, of my life, that they may purify me and prepare me to rise from light to light, until I am completely transformed in You. The light and glory of Thabor encourage me. Thank You, O Lord, for having allowed me, if only for a few moments, to contemplate Your splendour and to enjoy Your divine consolations. Fortified and encouraged by this, I come down from the mountain to follow You, You alone, to Calvary.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
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