The Transfiguration and Our Call to Holiness

Today, Aug 6th, is the feast day of the Transfiguration of our Lord. In the Order of Preachers, we know this day to be the day that our holy Father, St. Dominic, died in 1221, exactly 800 years ago. We celebrate this day called Dies Natalis, the birth of St. Dominic into eternal life. Thanks be to God for the saintly beauty of this man, a true gift to the world for the last 800 years.

The Transfiguration of Jesus, by Fra Angelico, ca. 1440-1442, fresco, Basilica of St. Mark, Florence, Italy, Public Domain

Today, an introspection is in order. Looking at the image above, we see the apostles Peter, James and John astonished by the sight of Jesus’ transfiguration with both Moses and Elijah present, as recalled from the Gospel reading today, Mark 9:2-10.

We also see two other figures, flanking our Transfigured Lord. On the left is the Blessed Virgin Mary and on the right, St. Dominic. Fra Angelico has captured our dual feast day perfectly in this image. The transfiguration also calls to mind that on this day, St. Dominic has received the ultimate gift, the beatific vision. St. Dominic has been born into eternal life with our Lord, our Savior, our Creator, our Triune God.

The reason why Peter, James and John were astonished is something we should ponder in our hearts. Is it mere visual stimulation that astonished them? I don’t think so. It is a glimpse of the immensity of the beatific vision. Such holiness had only been seen a few times before this moment. These are the two that are significant here: when Moses’s face became radiant in Exodus 34:27-35 and when Elijah was transported to heaven in 2 Kings 2:11. In both cases, those who witnessed this holiness were shaken with emotion, with fear and awe.

Annunciation to the Shepherds, by Claes Moeyaert, ca. 1633, ink on paper, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Public Domain under CC01

If we witnessed something like this personally, how would we respond? We would probably be gripped with fear and trembling because what would be running through our minds, at that point, is clear: How is this possible? What is happening? What am I seeing? Is anyone else seeing this too? It is our unbelief would be called into question. It isn’t so shocking when our faith, the act of believing itself, is challenged, but when we are faced with undeniable holiness, something we cannot explain no matter how smart we are, this is when we are astonished. Miracles can and do happen. And that is how we characterize this type of holiness.

I say that it is our unbelief that is called into question because when we are face to face with a real miracle, like levitation, bilocation, transfiguration, the biological forensic evidence of a eucharistic miracle, just to name a few, a confrontation takes place between our minds and our hearts: What if God is real? What if I really will be judged when I die? What does this all mean? Am I prepared to change the way I live? The reality of our mortality and the state of our soul comes into question, and immediately, we find ouselves uncomfortable. We realize that we have a choice to make: to believe that all of this is true or to continue to ignore our call to holiness. It’s a tough choice, because one requires action on our part and we know it, whereas the other requires no effort at all and we know that, too.

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, by Francesco Merano, ca. 1639-1657, drawing, Art Institute of Chicago, Public Domain

Holiness really does exist, but where do we see it today? Well, that really depends on the depth of our faith. One place to start is this: Do you really believe what we profess in the Creed? This is a question that we should all ponder in our hearts. I’m challenging you today, on the feast day of the Transfiguation of our Lord and the birth of St. Dominic into eternal life, to look at the Creed. Read each line and ask yourself, “Do I truly believe this?” Answer yourself truthfully, because this is the only way you can move forward. We are each called to holiness, individually. God made each one of us indvidually, and that is exactly how we are called: by name.

The place where we see holiness every day should be wherever we look in the mirror. That’s right. God is calling you and me to be holy, everyday. We should see holiness in our own image. I know it’s hard, and I don’t always succeed at it either, but it’s certainly not impossible. We have choices to make. These choices may not seem important at the moment, but they really are. Choosing one way or the other can mean the difference in where we will spend eternity. Choose to be holy. It doesn’t matter what others think or say, the only One whose opinion matters is God. He is our only judge. Maybe, when you choose holiness, others might even follow your example. The reverse is also true, when you choose unholiness, others also may follow your example.

I would love it if every person in the history of the world would merit heaven. Unfortunately, I know that will not happen. This is what makes our choices, our responses, how we live our lives, what we believe, how we act… all of that matters. There are serious consequences; whether we understand them or not, has no bearing on the reality of the consequence we will experience in the future.

Having been created in the likeness and image of God, we have the innate desire to know Him. Our curiosity can lead us to Him or away from Him. If you’re a rebel, rebel against the world and run toward God. How does one run toward God? The best place to learn this is in the Catholic Church, the Bride of Christ.

For those who are not Catholic, if you’re interested in learning more about God and His Bride, the Catholic Church and what we teach, seek out an RCIA class at a local parish, which, classes will begin soon. While the Church itself seems to be far from perfection because it is comprised of sinners, and we’re all working on getting to heaven, it is the surest way to spend eternity with Christ. This is His Church, He founded it upon Peter’s faith, and He is truly present in every tabernacle of every Catholic Church in the entire world. It’s the only Church where Jesus Christ is actually present, body, blood, soul, and divinity. A great resource can be found here.

You are called to holiness and to spend eternity with God. I want to help you get there. Please, help me get there, too. Comment below, start a converation, ask a question, I will respond as soon as I can, by Sunday at the latest! I still have lots of prepping to do before 8am Sunday!

Have a blessed and holy weekend, everyone! Pray for our Lay Dominican community as six of us prepare to make our final professions on Sunday! I will livestream it on facebook! Give us a like and a share, too!

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