This Tuesday is the Feast of the Transfiguration. On Mt. Tabor Jesus was transfigured and revealed His glory to Peter, James, and John, and Moses and Elijah appeared and they talked about Jesus’ upcoming Passion and death. Jesus showed all of this to Peter, James, and John to strengthen them, knowing that their faith would be tested by His arrest and crucifixion. Do we believe that we can also be transfigured by Jesus? That our families and communities can be transfigured?
In the prayer, “Hail, Holy Queen, which we pray at the end of the Rosary, we ask Mary, “To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee do we lift up our sighs, mourning, and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us and show unto us the Blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” We call this life the “valley of tears,” because here we are “banished” from our true home in heaven and our own sins separate us from God. So, we sigh, mourn, and weep for our sins and the sins of the world. Therefore, we ask Mary to show us Jesus, to bring us close to Jesus, to “make us worthy of the promises of Christ.”
St. Paul wrote, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer. For he that is dead is justified from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live together with Christ” (Rm 6:6-8). We must kill sin with ourselves. We should show mercy to other people, but we shouldn’t show mercy to our own sins.
The Christian practice of mortification, from the Latin mortis, meaning “of dead,” is the practice of denying our bodily wants so that we can train ourselves to reject sin. Athletes and soldiers train themselves for the contest; mortification is one part of Christian training. All sin comes from a desire for something good that becomes twisted. Food is good, but an inordinate desire for food is gluttony. Honor is good, but a twisted desire for personal honor is pride. We all need rest to regain our physical and mental strength, but the desire to only rest and never work is laziness. We can train ourselves and strengthen our own willpower by denying ourselves even good things, so that we can better say no to sinful things. The Catholic tradition is to do this on Fridays to remember that Jesus was crucified on a Friday. You might want to abstain from meat on Fridays, or give up TV, to put the A/C a few degrees hotter or colder than you normally would, or any number of other possibilities. It should be a real sacrifice, but not something that will harm your health.
If we want to return to our true home in heaven, to be transfigured in the glory of God and live together with Christ, then we must take up our Crosses daily and follow after Him.
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.