Icon of the Transfigured Christ

 Vita Consecrata’ series Part 1 of 12

Over the course of these next 12 months, we will be meditating on short sections of Blessed John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata.  You can download a copy of this document from the Vatican’s website: www.vatican.va. We hope you enjoy them!

While there are many word’s of Christ in the Gospel that give meaning to the call to consecration, Blessed John Paul II in Vita Consecrata points out that the mystery of the Transfiguration “is singularly helpful” in looking at the essential characteristics of religious life. With that said, we begin these meditations on Vita Consecrata with a look at the Transfiguration.

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart.  And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.  And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.  And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”  He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and 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 on their faces, and were filled with fear.  But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.”  And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.  And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of man is raised from the dead”  (Mt 17:1-9)

This light that shines forth from Jesus, revealing God the Father’s glory, draws us in and without words speaks to our hearts.  The mystery and majesty which shines forth from Christ’s light is not meant only for the disciples but as Blessed John Paul II points out “This light shines on all the Church’s children.  All are equally called to follow Christ, to discover in him the ultimate meaning of their lives” (VC 15).  Do we trust that He is the “ultimate meaning of our lives”?  And if so, how do we respond to this light? Do we allow it to permeate the depths of our heart do we allow it to shine and bring meaning to areas of our life that we’d rather not look at?  Do we receive the splendor of this light as an immeasurable gift of LOVE and allow it to transform us, strengthen, heal and renew us?

In Vita Consecrata, Blessed John Paul II goes on to say that “those called to the consecrated life have a special experience of the light” a beautiful experience shrouded in utter mystery.  For those called to consecrated life He provides them with the grace to live this special communion of love.  By entering into this intimacy in an all- encompassing commitment which involves conforming one’s entire existence to Christ and living the way He chose to live on earth – poor, chaste, and obedient, Christ allows His presence, His light, His very life to radiate through those called to the consecrated life.  As a result the lives of consecrated men and women make known to the whole world the truth that “the Incarnate Son of God is the goal toward which all things tend, the splendor before which every other light pales, and the infinite beauty which alone can fully satisfy the human heart.” (VC 16)

As we grow in relationship with Christ, let us not shy away from His light or slip into the shadows but rather, let us trust in His promise and in His presence as we receive the Eucharist and all the Sacraments, as we study Scripture, and as we learn to listen in the silence of deep prayer.