Following Mary’s example, the contemplative is a person centred in God. (VDQ 10)

The Transfiguration


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                  Can you find the angels in the icon of the Transfiguration ?




On the 6th of August we will celebrate Our Lord’s Transfiguration: the day when his body, similar to ours, was clothed in a radiant and brilliant light. We read, as described in St. Mark, that Jesus took his disciples Peter, James and John, alone with him, to the top of a high mountain. Tradition situates this mountain as Mount Tabor, from which our Nazareth Carmelites have a splendid view from their monastery. As Carmelites in the Holy Land, we are fortunate to know that, in a small way, this grace is given also to us in a fashion parallel to that given to the disciples those many years ago.

The Gospel story, as in the liturgy, heightens the brilliance of Our Lord’s splendor, his body and his clothes. Is it a radiance of his divinity? Or is it perhaps that of his humanity? There is no need to oppose either as it is a divine luminosity elucidating the Man-God, during his encounter with Moses and Elijah.

Our spiritual eyes are opened here to contemplate the distinct dignity of our own humanity. This is why angels are not represented in icons of the Transfiguration. Jesus wants to reveal to his disciples that it is his real, conscious and suffering humanity that is one with his radiant and eternal divinity. Saint Therese of the Child Jesus was amazed by this mystery of beauty "on which the angels bend with awe and wonder" ("The angels at the crib" Noel 1894)) and she recognizes this also in the Holy Face: to be transformed, transfigured into his likeness, as in “My wishes before the Tabernacle” (1896).

“Thy cradle so dear Draws angels anear.

O Child-God!

Now Trembling before that humble crib I bow…

Thou tiny Jesu, Light of Light!

My Well-Beloved!

Come, dwell in me.

Thy beauty wins my heart.

Oh, come!

Deign to transform me into Thee!"

And at the height of her last illness: "Angels cannot suffer, they are not as happy as me ..." (CJ 16 Aug. 4) and “O beautiful Angel! Your voice is sweet! I feel hope being reborn in my heart when you speak to me of the sufferings of Jesus": (The Combat and Victory of Joan of Arc, Scene 5). Similar thoughts must have sustained Therese of the Face of Jesus in her bitter trials at the end of her life.

So let us rejoice and give thanks to God our Father for being able to accompany Jesus on the Mount, to feel our fragility, and to discover, little by little, the very sweet clarity of which the body of the Church and each of our bodies will shine, at the end of our Passover with Christ.

Blessed Feast of the Transfiguration!



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