On August 19, on the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord our Parish held a beautiful celebration. Since this is a Lord’s holy day, the whole service was dedicated to the feast. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! We are here in the temple of God to celebrate great feast of the Transfiguration. Today’s Gospel reading told us about that special event. Our Lord Jesus Christ took His three Disciples, Peter, James and John and led them to the mountain. There the Lord transfigured before them showing the glory of His divinity. Transfiguration is a very important Christian holy day. It is another Theophany, the appearance of God because Jesus showed the Disciples that he is truly divine. And the Lord showed His Disciples His uncreated light, the light of His divine grace.”
“Another important aspect of this event is that the Apostles were comforted and assured that their Teacher is the true God. Later one of them, Holy Apostle Peter wrote that at the Transfiguration “they were witnesses of His majesty” (2 Pet. 1, 16). This assurance was especially needed when they became witnesses of the death of Christ, so they had to remember that His death was God’s plan of salvation and that it had to be followed by Christ Resurrection. Our today’s festal kontakion says, “So that when they would behold Thou crucified, they would understand that Thine suffering was voluntary, and would proclaim to the world that Thou art truly the radiance of the Father!””
“All these aspects are very important to understand why we celebrate today’s feast. But we may also inquire what this holy event is bringing to us? What is our benefit from that holy, miraculous and glorious occurrence?”
“The light of Christ, that very light shown on Mt. Tabor has to shine for us also and to lead us to spiritual transfiguration of our own. In today’s festal troparion we sing, “Let Thine everlasting Light shine upon us sinners”. And if we, as the believers in Christ our God, strive for the unity with Him, we need that light to shine. Without God’s grace we cannot transfigure our sinful beings. Thus we need to acquire that grace, to attain that divine light, to strive to live in that holy radiance. Practically speaking, we need to advance spiritually, to evolve in our perfection.”
”Sometimes the believers complain that nowadays we don’t have holy people leading us. They wish that our Church was led by the bishops like St. Nicholas, our states headed by the rulers like St. Vladimir, that in our parishes were priests like St. John of Kronstadt. Of course, it is nice to dream in that way: that when you come to the church, the service is headed by John of Kronstadt, the choir is directed by King David, and your wife besides you is like St. Natalia… But the reality is quite different. Why? Because we ourselves are not worthy of those holy people. We ourselves are not holy and equal to them in holiness, piety and zeal. Imagine if we really had St. Nicholas as our bishop. We would be very happy to come to him and benefit from his miracles. But he would also be demanding towards us. He would require us to attend the church every service; he would serve the long services, like all-night vigils (not just by name, but in reality, during the whole night!); he would give us harsh penances and so on. How would we feel with such a holy bishop?”
“We really need to advance, to evolve in our piety, zeal and holiness to become changed, transfigured. The Greek word of the New Testament for Transfiguration is Metamorfwsis. This word is used by the scientists to describe a change which occurs with a butterfly. In order to become a beautiful butterfly, a worm, or a caterpillar must become a dormant creature and when its time comes, it changes into a butterfly. You cannot make a butterfly by adding the wings to a caterpillar or to a dormant form. You cannot interfere into that process. It is a natural process of a change. Same with our spiritual state: you need to mature, to evolve to the certain point of spiritual growth, in order to acquire the light of Christ. But with us it is a supernatural process of a change, of our personal transfiguration.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Being now in the middle of the Dormition fast, let us pray to the Most Holy Mother of God to intercede for us. Our today’s troparion mentions that everlasting Light of Christ may shine through the prayers of the Theotokos. Let us pray to Her that our sinful being may transfigure to the eternal life and holiness, to the unity with our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ!”
Before the rite of the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully sang festal hymns of the Transfiguration.
Following the Ambo prayer the Rector performed traditional Blessing of fruits.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar servers performed the rite of glorification singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast before the festal icon. Fr. Igor then preached a short sermon in Russian and congratulated the parishioners on the occasion of the holy day.
Our celebration continued at the trapeza table when the Rector and parishioners enjoyed some food and a nice conversation. At this time we all were glad to see our former parishioners, Elisey and Anastasia (Mirna) Flora who came to visit us from the Dominican Republic.