Transfiguration icon

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Celebrated on August 6 (August 19)

Old Testament: Exodus 24:12-18
2 Peter 1:10-19
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9

When You were transfigured, 0 Savior, upon a high mountain, having with You the chief disciples, You shone forth in glorious majesty, proving thereby that those who surpass in the height of their virtues shall be counted worthy of the divine glory. Talking with Christ, Moses and Elijah showed that He is the Lord of both the living and the dead, the God who spoke of old through the Law and the Prophets. And the voice of the Father testified to Him from the cloud of light saying, "Hear Him, who through His Cross destroys hell and gives the dead eternal life."

Having uncovered, 0 Savior, a little of the light of Your divinity to those who went up with You into the mountain, You have made them lovers of Your heavenly glory. Therefore they cried in awe: "It is good for us to be here. With them we all we sing unto You…

From the Vespers and Matins for the feast.

The Transfiguration of Christ is one of the central events recorded in the Gospels. Immediately after the Lord was recognized by His disciples as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, he told them that He must go up to Jerusalem and suffer many things... and be killed and on the third day be raised. This announcement of Christ's approaching passion and death was met with indignation by the disciples. And then, after rebuking them, the Lord took Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain, by tradition Mount Tabor, and was transfigured before them.

In the Transfiguration, the disciples see the glory of the Kingdom of God present in majesty in the Person of Christ. They see that in Him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. They see this before the crucifixion so that in the resurrection they might know who it is Who has suffered for them, and what it is that this One, who is God, has prepared for those who love Him.

Besides this meaning, the presence of Moses and Elijah is also of great significance for understanding of the feast. These two figures actually stand for the Old Testament itself: MOSES for the LAW, and ELIJAH for the PROPHETS. They also stand for the LIVING and DEAD, for Moses died and his burial place is known, while Elijah was taken alive into heaven in order to appear again to announce the time of God s salvation in Christ the Messiah. Christ is the Lord of both the living and the dead.

Taken from The Orthodox Faith, Vol. II, by Fr. Thomas Hopko.

The Blessing of Fruit

The blessing of grapes, as well as other fruits and vegetables on this day is the most beautiful and adequate sign of the final transfiguration of all things in Christ. It signifies the ultimate flowering and fruitfulness of all creation in God's Paradise where all will be transformed by the glory of the Lord.

About the Icon

Christ is the central figure; He is clothed in white and completely surrounded by an aureole (elongated halo) to indicate the brilliant Light of His Divinity which shown From Him. St. Elijah the Prophet is pictured on the left, and St. Moses the Lawgiver on the right. Moses holds in his hands the tablets of the Ten Commandments which he received on Mount Sinai. The Disciples Peter, James and John are the three figures shown below Christ; they are portrayed in an attitude of being overcome by the Uncreated Light of Divinity.

Taken from The Icon Book by Boojamra, Essey, McLuckie, and Matusiak.

Click [HERE] for the icon of the Transfiguration to color (GIF format, 49 KB).

Troparion (Tone 7)

You were transfigured on the mount, 0 Christ God, revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it. Let your everlasting light shine upon us sinners! Through the prayers of the Theotokos, 0 Giver of Light, glory to You!

Kontakion (tone 7)

On the mountain where You transfigured, 0 Christ God, and Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it; so that when they would behold You crucified, they would understand that Your suffering was voluntary, and would proclaim to the world that You are truly the Radiance of the Father!

Some Things to Do

Before the feast day, discuss the Transfiguration story and the importance it had for the disciples and has for each of us.
This feast has an 'afterfeast' period of 7 days. Use the Festal Hymns as prayers before and/or after meals and as part of your children's evening prayers during this period.
Have your children prepare a fruit basket to bring to Church. Share the fruit with shut-ins. Explain the significance of this tradition to your children.

© 1996 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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