24 - Feast of the Transfiguration
lbair Gamal Mikhail
December 30, 2003
The rite of the Feast of the Transfiguration (13 Mesori).
The Feast of the Transfiguration commences on 13 Mesori, which is 19 August. On the other hand, the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Western churches generally celebrate this feast on 6 August. The feast is one of the Seven Minor Feasts of our Lord, which commemorates the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus on Mount Tabor, where He revealed His light and the glory of His divinity. The transfiguration was witnessed by three of His disciples: Peter, John, and his brother James.
The word “transfiguration” means a change in the outward form or appearance. In the context of the Lord Jesus, it explains the change of His face from the likeness of humans, to a face that shone with radiant light. The Lord was Himself the source of this light, unlike the light that illuminated from Moses’ face, which was a reflection of the light of the Lord of Glory. As for the power of this light, which our Lord Jesus appeared with on Mount Tabor, it was stronger than the light of the sun, such that His disciples fell on their faces and were not able to look at Him. In the Gospel, St. Luke mentions that the disciples were weighed down with sleep, which means that they were completely overwhelmed by this great light; therefore, their eyes naturally shut. At the same time, the brain and the nervous system become paralyzed, to the extent of losing the ability to use any of the senses and motor skills. Soon, consciousness is lost. For this reason, St. Mark mentions in his Gospel that St. Peter the Apostle did not know what he was uttering. In addition, St. Luke the physician, mentions that St. Peter the Apostle was not aware of what he was articulating.
During the transfiguration, the Prophets Elijah and Moses were seen communicating with Jesus, but suddenly a cloud of light descended and overshadowed them, and a voice came from the cloud, saying: “This is My Son, My Beloved, listen to Him!” In fact, when our Lord Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power,” He was speaking about His transfiguration on Mount Tabor in front of His three disciples.
As for the rite of the Feast of the Transfiguration, the prayers and hymns of the Feast are all chanted in the joyful tune.
In the Vespers and Prime Raisings of Incense, the Verses of the Cymbals and the Doxologies for this particular feast are chanted in the joyful tune. The same applies to the Psalm and Gospel Responses. As for the Praxis Response, it is possible to chant the annual hymn or the verse specially assigned for this feast.
The Fraction for the Feasts of the Lord is prayed. Also, the communion hymn, Psalm 150, is chanted in the joyous tune. As a conclusion, the Concluding Canon of the feast is chanted.
May the blessings of this feast be with us all. Amen.
Mikhail, Deacon Albair Gamal, The Essentials in the Deacon’s Service, (Shobra, Egypt: Shikolani, 2002), p. 811. Translated from Arabic by Bishoy K. R. Dawood, edited by Alexander A-Malek.