Anticipating the glory of heaven, where we shall see God face to face

Raphael, 1520

O Lord, You are my God, I will extol and praise Your Name; for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness.” (Isaiah 25:1)

Feast of the Transfiguration Prayer

O God, who in the glorious Transfiguration of your Only Begotten Son confirmed the mysteries of faith by the witness of the Fathers and wonderfully prefigured our full adoption to sonship, grant, we pray, to your servants, that, listening to the voice of your beloved Son, we may merit to become co-heirs with him. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen Ora Pro Nobis.

The transfiguration is, in short, about wonder and gratitude, a subject with which G. K. Chesterton was well acquainted. He objected to modern society’s ridicule of real wonder in the face of demanding an explanation of everything. By doing so, he pointed out, we had neglected our manners and our first natural response of gratitude.

“The world will never starve for want of wonders, only for want of wonder…When we are asked why eggs turn into birds, or fruits fall in autumn, we must answer that it is magic.”

-G. K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles and The Ethics of Elfland, Orthodoxy

The greatest wonder of all time was the privilege of seeing the transfiguration which Peter and his companions did. “We should look at this also with great joy knowing that we have the hope of seeing it for ourselves! It is written on our soul to want to be with the Lord and be in the heavenly realm!” ( Father Thomas Kovatch)

“Six days later, Jesus *took with Him Peter and [a]James, and his brother John, and *led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter responded and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If You want, I will make three [b]tabernacles here: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell [c]face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And raising their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.” (Matthew 17:1-8)

“Meanwhile Peter and his companions were overcome by sleep, but when they awoke, they saw Jesus’ glory and the two men standing with Him. 33As Moses and Elijah were leaving, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters— one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” ( He did not know what he was saying.) 34While Peter was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.…” ( Luke 9:22)

“Men will faint from fear and anxiety over what is coming upon the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28When these things begin to happen, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”… ( Luke 21:27)

In the first two passages we see the account of the first transfiguration. But in the last passage in Luke, we get a foretelling through the reference of the first transfiguration of being able to see the Lord in association with His second coming and our redemption to be with Him at last as this profane world goes through its tribulation and its passing away. The sacred, at last, finally and forever triumphs!

“We should desire to see the profane things transfigured by the sacred, rather than the sacred disenchanted by the profane.”

– G. K. Chesterton, The Shadow of the Problem, The New Jerusalem

This is our state if we do not recapture wonder and gratitude, especially wonder at and gratitude for the transfiguration and the anticipation of heaven and the hope of the glory of seeing God face to face . Everything we try to fill up in its place needs repetition and over time, becomes stale.

The effect of this staleness is the same everywhere; it is seen in all drug taking and dram drinking and every form of the tendency to increase the dose. Men seek stranger sins and more startling obscenities as stimulants to their jaded senses. They seek mad oriental religions for the same reason. They try to stab their nerves to life, if it were with the knives of the priests of Baal. They are walking in their sleep and try to wake themselves up with nightmares.

-GK Chesterton, The Everlasting Man, 1925

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