Wednesday, August 6th, 2008
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration, a mystery of Christ’s earthly life recorded by all four Gospels.
It was on this day in 1221 that St. Dominic went home to the Lord. We celebrate his feast day in two days. Another notable death anniversary: Pope Paul VI died thirty years ago today.
The Office of Readings has us read from a sermon written by Anastasius of Sinai, a seventh-century bishop and abbot of St. Catherine’s Monastery near Mt. Sinai. He is the subject of a famous Rembrandt portrait. In his homily, Anastasius shares with us the spiritual significance of Christ’s Transfiguration:
Upon Mount Tabor, Jesus revealed to his disciples a heavenly mystery. While living among them he had spoken of the kingdom and of his second coming in glory, but to banish from their hearts any possible doubt concerning the kingdom and to confirm their faith in what lay in the future by its prefiguration in the present, he gave them on Mount Tabor a wonderful vision of his glory, a foreshadowing of the kingdom of heaven.
These are the divine wonders we celebrate today; this is the saving revelation given us upon the mountain; this is the festival of Christ that has drawn us here. Let us listen, then, to the sacred voice of God so compellingly calling us from on high, from the summit of the mountain, so that with the Lord’s chosen disciples we may penetrate the deep meaning of these holy mysteries, so far beyond our capacity to express. Jesus goes before us to show us the way, both up the mountain and into heaven, and–I speak boldly–it is for us now to follow him with all speed, yearning for the heavenly vision that will give us a share in his radiance, renew our spiritual nature and transform us into his own likeness, making us for ever sharers in his Godhead and raising us to heights as yet undreamed of.
God our Father, in the transfigured glory of Christ your Son, you strengthen our faith by confirming the witness of your prophets, and show us the splendor of your beloved sons and daughters. as we listen to the voice of your Son, help us to become heirs to eternal life with him, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Within the next two or three years, we will begin using new English translations of the Mass. The first of the new translations, which includes only the Ordinary of the Mass, has just received approval from the Holy See. This text will not be used, however, until translations of the entire Roman Missal have been approved.
Even a quick read of the new Ordinary reveals its distinction from the one currently in use. First approved in 1970, the current translation of the Ordinary, which includes the Eucharistic Prayers, has often been criticized for its rudimentary prose and loose adherence to the Latin original. The new translation makes up for these shortcomings. The new prose is elevated, almost to the level of the poetic, and the vocabulary and grammar used convey more clearly the meaning of the Latin. These new translations will take some time getting used to, but through them the quality and solemnity of the Church’s Eucharistic worship (in the Ordinary Form) will be greatly improved. As many have argued, the dignified and less familiar prose of the new translations will make the mystical heart of the Mass more, not less, intelligible.
Click here to read through the newly approved English translation of the Ordinary of the Mass.