This Icon of the Transfiguration was ‘written’ by Sister Irène-Marie of the Community at the Monasterie of Sainte-Françoise Romaine, Le Bec-Hellouin, Normandy. Sister wrote two Icons. One is in the Transfiguration Chapel in the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist, Epping. The other is a personal Icon blessing the home of Mr. G. Sister Irène-Marie used traditional methods to write the Icon undergirded by prayer.
Thoughts on the feast of the TRANSFIGURATION, August 6th
In the Transfiguration God gives us a snapshot of human glory – Christ transformed and it is as if God is telling us that this is what we can become if we follow his way of doing things.
What follows the Transfiguration is the journey to Jerusalem and to our Lord’s death on the Cross. There, Jesus absorbed all human pain, conflict and hurt and he became the instrument of our transfiguration. He absorbed human sin and nailed it to the Cross and he did so out of sheer love for humanity and for the world. What transforms the Cross is love because the Crucifixion is God’s ultimate statement of His love for us. “You can do this to me,” his actions say, “and yet I will go on loving and you cannot stop me for it is only love that transforms humanity.”
A young Russian priest was arrested when communism took over his country. For years he was held in a prison camp and there he was beaten and tortured. When he was eventually released his friends asked him what was left of him. ‘Nothing’ he said, “they have taken everything away. Only Love remains.”
That priest had discovered the one thing that changes every human situation and disarms every human conflict – sacrificial self-giving love. It is through The Cross which Jesus took upon himself on our behalf that we can all be changed– and when we are changed, the world is changed. Only Love remains – only love will conquer the human heart. Only love will Transfigure the world. Perhaps we are unable to see that as a possibility in conflicts throughout our world and amidst the effects of Covid but there is one area where we can see this possibility and that is in our own lives and in our own dealings with others. Wars do not begin on foreign battlefields far from home. They begin in our hearts – when we refuse to allow others dignity or understanding. When we refuse to accept and celebrate them for who they are. When we want what we want come what may and when we believe our own views to be the only right views – a sure way to begin oppression of others.
That is not God’s Way. As Mother Mary Clare of the Sisters of the Love of God put it so clearly, God’s way is to call us to stand at the place of the Cross – at that intersection where human pain, hurt and conflict meet and are held by the transforming love of God.
It is only when we stand in this place where God in Jesus Christ always stands – the place of transforming love – that we will begin to see the glory in each other. That is a lesson from the Transfiguration. If we do not grasp it then not only will we mistreat others, we will also diminish ourselves – and, more importantly, we will deny God and His saving love.
Father in heaven,
whose Son Jesus Christ was wonderfully transfigured
before chosen witnesses upon the holy mountain,
and spoke of the exodus he would accomplish at Jerusalem:
give us strength so to hear his voice and bear our cross
that in the world to come we may see him as he is;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.