On 6 August, the Romanian Orthodox Church celebrates the Transfiguration of the Lord. In Romania, people also call this feat Preobrajenia or Probojenia and it remembers the time of the miraculous transfiguration of the Lord, at Tabor Mount, in front of His disciples Peter, John and James.
On this occasion, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Patriarchal Cathedral by His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania. His Grace Timotei Prahoveanul, Assistant Bishop to the Archdiocese of Bucharest concelebrated. The celebrating group also included Rev Archimandrite Teofil Anastasoaie, representative of the Romanian Patriarchate at the Holy Places and Superior of the Romanian Settlements at Jerusalem, Jericho and Jordan, rev archimandrite Clement Haralam, Great Ecclesiarch of the Patriarchal Cathedral, priests and deacons.
After reading the evangelical parable, the Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church delivered a sermon for all those present.
The Patriarch of Romania explained that this feast shows us three great truths: “First of all, the feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, shows the relationship between the sufferance of Christ on the cross and the glory of His Resurrection. Secondly, the Transfiguration of the Lord shows the relationship between the Glory of the Resurrection of Christ and the Glory of His second coming, at the end of the age, when He judges the living and the dead and Whose Kingdom will have no end. Thirdly, the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord shows us that the ultimate destination of the human being is not the grave, but the eternal life in the Glory of the Kingdom of Heaven”.
The relationship between the mystery of the Cross and the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ
His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church has also spoken about the relationship between the mystery of the Cross and that of the Resurrection of Christ.
“First, the relationship between the mystery of the Cross and the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ is shown in this Gospel through the fact that the Transfiguration of the Lord, when His face was shining like sun and His clothes were dazzling white, Moses and Elijah appeared all of a sudden, Moses who represented the Law and Elijah who represented the prophets of the Old Testament. They were talking with the glorified Jesus. The Gospel according to Matthew does not tell us what they were talking about, but the Gospel according to Luke tells us that they were talking about the passions of Christ that were to come soon, His crucifixion, and His death on the cross. This feast of the Transfiguration shows us that they were talking about the mystery of the Cross in the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven and in the glory of the Resurrection of Christ that was to come. This is why the Resurrection of Christ is remembered at the end of the Gospel of the day when Jesus Christ, our Saviour, tells His three disciples Peter, James and John: “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead”. Here we see the mystery of His Resurrection remembered. Thus, after Peter declared, at Caesarea, on behalf of all His Saints Apostles that He was the Son of the Living God, eight days afterwards He said that the Son of Man would be given to the pagans and mocked, beaten, humiliated and killed, but He would be raised the third day. This explanation of Jesus Christ was designed to strengthen His disciples in faith so that when they saw Him suffering to remember that the One who was suffering was the Lord of the Glory and that He would be raised from the dead and would defeat sin, hell and death. This preparation of the disciples for the time of Christ’s sufferance is done through the appearance of the glory of the resurrection of Christ before His passions or sufferance”, His Beatitude said.
The Transfiguration of the Saviour – image of the future boons
The Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church has also explained why this feast was scheduled in the calendar after the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord.
Therefore, this feast is held soon before the sufferance of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, and it should be scheduled in the calendar before the Holy Easter, but in order to show another aspect, namely that the glory of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, in Tabor Mountain, is related not only to His Resurrection, but also to His second coming in glory at the end of the age, the Holy Fathers fixed this feast in the last month of the church year, that is in August, on the 6th. Thus, this last month of the church year speaks about the last realities of history, about the end of the world and about the entrance of the righteous in the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven. This is why, as the liturgical chants of this feast read, the Holy Fathers related the glory of the transfiguration of Christ to the glory of His coming at the end of the age. One of these chants says that the Transfiguration of the Saviour in Tabor Mount is the image of the future boons, namely the image of the glory which will be given to those who believed in Christ, did His will in their lives, and loved Him in prayer and good deeds. Thus, this movement of the feast, which should have been scheduled before Easter because the Transfiguration took place before the Transfiguration event, shows a higher aspect, namely the glory with which Christ will come to judge the living and the dead”, the Patriarch of Romania said.
This feast shows the glory of the first image
His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel emphasised the fact that the Transfiguration shows us the full ultimate purpose of the man in the world, namely his improvement.
“In calendar, the feast is on the 6th of August because man was made on the 6th day, Adam was made on the 6th day and if Adam had been obedient his face would have shone like sun, but he lost the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven because he had sinned and become mortal and decayed.
But Christ, the new Adam, raised the humankind decayed and released the humans from death through His Resurrection and raised the human deified nature to Heaven wherefrom to give us joy, peace and the happiness of the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven. Here is a mysterious relationship with the end of age, as well as a remembrance of the fact that the man created on the 6th day was not designed to remain in the grave, but to communicate with the heavenly glory of God through his resemblance to God. We have in the books of rite an expression used in the religious service of this feast, saying that this feast shows the glory of the first image, namely as Adam’s face should have shone, because he was created in the Image of God that is in the Image of Christ, because Christ is the image of the Father. Therefore, this feast shows us that Christ accomplished the man’s vocation, namely to reach holiness, the resemblance to God.
This is why the Transfiguration shows us the ultimate future, improved and final of the human, namely his improvement from the uncreated light, never set light of the Kingdom of Heaven of the glory of Christ, of the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. This is why in the Orthodox icons the saints who mysteriously foretaste the Glory of the Kingdom of Heaven in their soul, ever since this world, have a halo around their heads and their clothes have pleats of the light of transfiguration, of spiritualisation and of man’s glorification in his relationship of faith and love, of obedience and prayer with the glorified God. Thus, starting from the feast of the Transfiguration, the Orthodox Church presented the saints not as earthly realities enclosed in themselves, but as humans who wanted to reach the glory of the Kingdom of God, foretasted it in prayer, through the Holy Sacraments here, on the earth and will fully share it in the Kingdom of God after death, especially after the universal resurrection when the bodies of the saints, the resurrected bodies, will be shining like light, like the vestments of Jesus Christ dazzling white”, His Beatitude also said.
The Transfiguration of the Saviour calls us to our spiritual change
The Transfiguration of the Lord calls us to a change, to spiritualisation, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church has also emphasised: “The ascending in the Tabor Mount means an inner spiritual elevation, not only a physical climbing using the movement of our feet, but also a spiritual one, through prayer, obedience, meditation, attendance of the holy services and especially through the communication with the Holy Sacraments. This is why the after communication the priest says in our books of rite: and give us to communicate more truly on the never setting day of Your Kingdom. This change means our elevation from the earthly things and focusing our thoughts and senses on Christ, on His saints who enjoy the never setting light of the Kingdom of Heaven shown at the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. The Transfiguration calls us to change and renew ourselves, to enlighten our mind through good thoughts, our hearts with pure feelings, our life through good aiding deeds, consoling the sad ones, comforting the mourning ones, and aiding the poor and lonely. Thus, the Transfiguration of the Saviour calls us to spiritual change.”
To end with the Divine Liturgy, the crops of the fields were blessed, consisting in grapes and a honeycomb as a sign of gratitude to God who gives the humans some of His gifts, which can be acquired through the blessing of God.
Photo: “Lumina” newspaper