Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Letter August 7, 2016

. . . and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as snow 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 with awe. 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, see also Mk 9:1–9; Lk 9:28–36; 2 Pet 1:16–18).

Dearly Beloved in the Lord,

As your vacations are beginning to conclude, preparations for school are well underway, and the end of summer is quickly upon us, we find ourselves to be in one of the most spiritually enriching periods of the year. We continue to chant the Paraklesis every other evening. The Dormition of the Theotokos is only days away. Our Vacation Bible School is about to begin: we’re ready to host children from throughout the greater Salt Lake Valley and learn about the life, ministry and influence of the Theotokos.

While her prayers for us, and our devotion towards her are paramount in our hearts during this time of year, we are also called to observe and mediate upon on of the twelve great Feasts, the Transfiguration of Christ, celebrated August 6th (Great Vespers are this evening, Friday August 5th, at 7:00 pm). As our Lord was Transfigured upon Mt. Tabor, before His disciples, He shown to them the fullness of His glory and radiant splendor.

Jesus knew that His crucifixion and death would be an unbearable series of events, all of which would be intolerable for His disciples to endure. His Transfiguration was granted to them, in order that they would maintain strength in the depth of weakness, clarity in the midst of confusion, faith in the face of despair, and light in the place if utter darkness. His light, His divine light was offered to them as a fulfillment and as an inspiration to bear their own fruit.

There is a lovely custom of bringing fruits, specifically grapes, to be blessed on the Feast of the Transfiguration. The practical background is this: within the Mediterranean climate, grapes reach their full ripeness and full potential during this time of year. Since now is the time when the first fruits of the vineyard are to be harvested, it is only fitting, that those same fruits are offered up for a blessing upon the entirety of the yield. The grapes, having achieved the peak of sweetness is a symbol of the Transfiguration: actualized potential and the fullness of existence.

Pick from the vine too early, and you have a sour taste in your mouth having partaken of fruit that was prematurely taken from its source of nutrition. Harvest a crop too late, and the mushy, overripe and past-its-prime texture are unpleasant, to say the least. Fruit in its prime is symbolic of Christ in His glory, bedecked in amazing splendor, and blinding radiance.

If you wish to bring fruit to be blessed following the Divine Liturgy this Saturday, I invite you to bring grapes (not any other fruit or vegetable) and add them to what will be provided by the Church.

In the coming weeks, I am so excited to resume the ministries and activities that have been on hold for the summer, as well as introduce new and exciting ways in which our parish can grow together in Christ.

With Love in XC,

Fr. Anthony