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Sunday, 18 August 2019 05:38

Carmelite celebrations in Sicily

57/2019 – 17 - 08

Last Sunday, August 4, the Prior General, Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm., led the solemn celebration of the Eucharist in the diocesan sanctuary of San Ángel de Licata (Sicily, Italy) in which Father Roberto Toni, O. Carm., Provincial of the Italian Province and the Rector of the shrine, Don Angelo Pintacorona, were concelebrants, along with other priests. After the celebration, the Prior General announced some of the numerous acts (religious, cultural and catechetical) that are being scheduled for the celebration of the eighth centenary of the martyrdom of San Angel, and in an extraordinary way (by a special concession) he venerated the saint’s relics and laid a floral wreath before them. The Eucharist was attended also by the city authorities, headed by the "Vice-Mayor", a large representation of the Carmelite Third Order members from Licata and other Sicilian cities, as well as confraternities and associations dedicated to the Saint: “Pro Sant’Angelo”, “Portatori di Oltreponte” and "Vivere Licata." The next day, accompanied by the Provincial, he visited the Cardinal Archbishop of Agrigento, Francesco Montenegro, who took great interest in the centenary program and expressed his affection for the Carmelite family.

Taking advantage of his stay in Sicily, the Prior General celebrated the Eucharist in the Shrine of the Virgin of Trapani, on the occasion of the feast of St. Albert. Following the traditional, he opened the silver cover where the skull of the saint is located and blessed the "water of St. Albert." He also participated in the popular procession that takes the image of the saint, both to the town hall, where they were received by the mayor, and to the cathedral where the bishop, Monsignor Pietro Maria Fragnelli, pronounced a beautiful prayer before the patron of the city.

May Saint Angel and Saint Albert, the first saints of the Order, help us to be faithful to our charism and generous and creative in our Carmelite life.

Carmelite celebrations in Sicily
56/2019 – 14 - 08

The Elective Chapter of the Carmelite Monastery of Jaboticabal, Brazil, was held 30 July and 8 August 2019. The following were elected:

  • Prioress: Sr. Francisca Marlene Rocha, O.Carm.

  • 1st Councilor: Sr. Maria do Carmo Silveira Moraes, O.Carm.

  • 2nd Councilor: Sr. M. Solange Nicácio de Melo, O.Carm.

  • Director of Novices: Sr. Maria do Carmo Silveira Moraes, O.Carm.

  • Treasurer: Sr. M. Solange Nicácio de Melo, O.Carm.

  • Sacristan: Sr. Vera Lúcia Alves, O.Carm.

the Monastery of Jaboticabal, Brazil
55/2019 – 13 – 08

The Elective Chapter of the Carmelite Monastery of Cabanatuan, Philippines, was held on 13 August 2019. The following were elected:

  • Prioress: Sr. M. Dolores of the Crucified Jesus Asuncion, O.Carm.

  • 1st Councilor: Sr. M. Dorotea of the Soul of Christ Santiago, O.Carm.

  • 2nd Councilor: Sr. M. Herminia of Jesus dela Cruz, O.Carm.

  • 3rd Councilor: Sr. M. Regina of Jesus Gutierrez, O.Carm.

  • 4th Couniclor and Treasurer: Sr. M. Teresa of Jesus Canillo, O.Carm.

  • Director of Novices: Sr. M. Dorotea of the Soul of Christ, Santiago, O.Carm.

  • Sacristan: Sr. M. Raquel of the Divine Mercy Ylagan, O.Carm.

the Monastery of Cabanatuan, Philippines
Wednesday, 31 July 2019 10:30

Lectio Divina August 2019

Pope's Prayer Intentions for August 2019

Evangelization – Families

That families, through their life of prayer and love, become ever more clearly “schools of true human growth”.






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Lectio Divina August 2019
53/2019 – 28 – 07

From July 19-21, the so-called “Lay Convocation” was held at the Hilton Hotel in Chicago (USA), organized by the PCM and SEL Provinces. Nearly 400 people from various parts of North America took part. In addition to the laity, there was a representation of the Carmelite Sisters and the contemplative nuns of various monasteries. The theme of the meeting, "Elijah: Inner fire, outward zeal", was developed by various speakers: Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm. (Prior General), William Harry, O.Carm. (PCM Provincial), Nicholas Blackwell, O.Carm. and Glenn Snow, O.Carm. Likewise, a series of workshops were run in which the prophetic dimension of Carmel was reflected upon in relation to various issues and situations. At the final banquet, the Prior General received an affectionate farewell tribute from the American laity at the end of his period as Prior General of the Order.

A Meeting of North American Lay Carmelites
52/2019 – 15 – 07

Flos Carmeli, vitis florigera,

splendor caeli, Virgo puerpera singularis.

Mater mitis, sed viri nescia,

Carmelitis esto propitia,

stella maris.


Fernando Prior Generalis

Domusque Generalis Communitas

16. VII. 2019

Image: Romae, Oratorium Curiae Generalis, Imago B.V. Mariae de Monte Carmelo

50/2019 – 13 – 07

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has today (July 13th, 2019) appointed as a member of the Congregation for the Clergy the President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts H.E. Msgr. Filippo Iannone, O. Carm,.

To Msgr. Filippo Iannone we offer our warmest congratulations on behalf of the whole Carmelite Family.

Appointment as a member of the Congregation for the Clergy
49/2019 – 08 – 07

From July 2 to 5, 2019, the 25th Assembly of the Carmelite Family of the Iberian Region (Spain and Portugal) was held at the "Virgen del Carmen" University Residence Hall in Zaragoza (Spain). The theme of the meeting was: "Let us remain united under the protection of Jesus (Blessed Titus Brandsma)". This year the meeting was prepared by the Province of San Juan de la Cruz (Aragon, Castile and Valencia). The reflection, centring on the life, teaching and witness of Blessed Titus Brandsma, was presented by the Prior General, Fr. Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm.

In his lectures the Prior General gave an overview of the life of Titus Brandsma, revealing the most outstanding features of his rich personality, and highlighting areas in which the witness of Bl. Titus was very significant: spirituality, mysticism, Marian devotion, Catholic education, the unity of the Churches, the press and social media and the resistance to National Socialism. Father Alejandro López-Lapuente, O.Carm., traced the relationship between Bl. Titus and certain aspects of the cinema and Fr. Ramón Maneu, O.Carm., spoke about the famous "Obra social del Carmen" (Carmelite Social Services), as something that reflected the attitude of Bl. Titus in uniting contemplation and compassion.

Fr. Desiderio García, O.Carm., Prior Provincial of the ACV Province, welcomed the more than 150 participants, especially the Prior General, the Prior Provincials - Fr. Francisco Daza (Prov. Bética), P Luis Maza (Prov. Catalonia), Fr. Ricardo Rainho (Com. Portugal) - Sr. Merry Teresa (Superior General of the HHVMMC), Sr. Rosario González (Superior General of the HHCSCJ), the O.Carm. and OCD cloistered nuns, the Teresian Missionary Carmelites and a large group of lay Carmelites. In his introduction he recalled that this year's meeting was of particular importance because it is its "silver jubilee". The Mixed Coordinating Team of the Iberian Region, in 1994, considered that it was necessary to create some kind of stable meeting that would increase mutual knowledge among the various members of the Carmelite Family.


The 25th Assembly of the Carmelite Family of the Iberian Region
48/2019 - 06 - 07


Dear brothers and sisters of the Carmelite family,

One more year, the solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is approaching and, therefore, I would like to send very warm greetings to all those who, in one way or another, are part of the great family of Carmel.  On these days we not only remember and celebrate the Mother of the Lord under the beloved title of Carmel, but we also feel part of a family that lives its faith with that special aspect, "as Carmelites", at the service of the Church and of humanity.

This year, my greetings have a special tone, since, after twelve years of service to the Order as Prior General, I will soon leave this post in the General Chapter that we will celebrate in Sassone (Rome, Italy) from September 9 to 29. And this is the first message that I would like to send you this year: that all of us (religious, contemplative nuns, active women religious, tertiaries, lay people of different groups, etc.) will feel and be very united in prayer that the General Chapter will be a time of grace, of deep reflection, of discernment and fraternity.  The theme we have chosen for our Chapter, as you probably already know, is: "You are my witnesses" (Isa 43:10); from one generation to the next: called to be faithful to our Carmelite charism”. This theme that has been proposed came about by the reality that the Order has grown a lot geographically in recent decades. This growth has been a true blessing for the Order and a source of joy for all of us. But these "missions" or new presences are also a challenge, especially with regard to the formation of future Carmelites, a formation that should combine the specificity of local cultures with the most genuine tradition of the Order to which we must be faithful and of which we must be transmitters.

It is, without a doubt, a fascinating challenge, but also a complex one. Likewise, it is a great responsibility that we must face with great seriousness, since the configuration and vitality of the Carmel of the 21st century will to a large extent depend on it.  For this reason, it is important that our Chapter discuss this question (among others) with depth, with evangelical criteria, with seriousness and generosity.

Likewise, the Chapter of 2019 will address the task of reviewing the Constitutions that was entrusted to it in the 2013 Chapter.  As I have repeated in many different areas, it is not a question of elaborating new Constitutions, but of including some aspects that were absent (and of which we have become aware over time) or to add some references to the latest official documents of the Church, or to better outline some numbers that -with the passage of time- may have been out of date or insufficient for the new problems and challenges of our society.

It is not necessary to point out the importance of this task.  The Constitutions are not just a legal or administrative document, but they must show what we are and, even more, what we want to be.  They are not empty and disembodied norms, the fruit of an outdated legalism, but they show our humble determination to live as Carmelites of the 21st century who - with joy, generosity and creativity - put themselves at the service of the Church and of Evangelization.  In addition, although they directly affect the religious, in a certain way they also influence the vitality of the entire Carmelite family.

Likewise, the Chapter must elect the brothers who will animate the life of the Order in the next six years.  From now on, we put ourselves in an attitude of generous and affectionate collaboration with the brothers who will be chosen for this delicate task and who will assume the challenge of leading the Order so that it will be ever more faithful to the mission and the charism it has received.

On many occasions I have stressed the importance of our Chapter structure, typical of the mendicant orders.  It is not only a way of organization or administration (as valid as others), but it entails a whole "Chapter culture" and, even more, a "Chapter spirituality".  Even this Chapter dynamic involves a theology, a way of understanding the signs of the times in which God manifests himself, a way of understanding spiritual discernment, authority, synodality, etc.

Therefore, in the festivities that we are going to celebrate, keep this intention in mind before our Mother and Sister, before the Star of the Sea, who has guided and accompanied us for eight centuries and who, undoubtedly, will continue to do so as we enter this third millennium, full of challenges, needs of all kinds and also of hopes.  To a great extent, the success of the General Chapter will depend on the sincere and fraternal prayer of all of us. 


I would also like to take advantage of this letter on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel to share with you some feelings at the end of my term as Prior General of the Order.  Allow me this personal note without pretensions and done in a fraternal and informal tone.

If I had to highlight what I feel right now, the word that would best express it is "gratitude": gratitude to the Lord for having called me to Carmel and for having had the opportunity (the enormous honor) to serve the brothers internationally;  gratitude for the beautiful experiences of fraternity, mission, service and solidarity that I have had the opportunity to experience during these years. I confess that (without denying the problems, the shortcomings and the difficulties that have occurred in these years) on many occasions I have felt the deep pride of being a Carmelite and of belonging to this family.  I do not want to highlight any concrete experience (there would be so many!), but I can tell you that many Carmelites, with their generous, happy, simple work, without much publicity and even almost anonymous ... have edified and enriched me, have helped me to continue walking and I have been renewed in my vocation.  For all of them, for our contemplative sisters, for the sisters of the active life who give themselves to teaching, to the missions, to the sick, for our lay people who often live with enormous enthusiasm and generosity their belonging to Carmel ... because of all of this, it is worth continuing to sow and to continue to grow as Carmelites of the 21st century!

I would also like to apologize to those who at some point may have felt disappointed or expected something different.  Those who know me well know that this apology is not a formality, a literary genre that is always used at the end of a mission, but I say it with all my heart.

Carmel follows very diverse processes in different parts of the world where we are. While Asia has become the largest geographical area of the Order, Europe and North America for the last several decades have experienced a lack of vocations and alarming decrease in the size of the provinces.  Latin America continues to grow at a sustained pace and the young presence in Africa, despite their fragility, are strengthening,  which suggests a very promising future.

In each case, the strategy of the Order must be different.  The general government cannot act only from the criteria or from the situation in a certain geographical area.   It would be frustrating to let ourselves be carried away by pessimism, disregarding the areas of the world where Carmel grows with great force.  It would be irresponsible to ignore that there are shortcomings and difficulties due to the lack of personnel (and that this means restructuring our presence) in other areas of the world.  Although the General Curia is in Rome, in Italy, in Europe ... it is the Curia of the whole Order, in its richness and diversity.

But, in any case, in all these processes we must maintain an evangelical style, typical of men of faith who act moved by other values. With great humility, realism, courage and hope, we are proud and grateful for that internationality, for that diversity of cultures and languages that we consider a blessing and an enormous wealth and we assume the challenge of offering and sharing the Carmelite charism with everyone.

In this sense, I have tried to maintain during these years a healthy balance between active presence in Rome and presence in the peripheries of the Order (to use the expression so dear to Pope Francis), from where the ecclesial life can be seen with other sensitivities, with other accents and other nuances, which (undoubtedly!) enriches and completes our service to the universal Church.  For this, I have counted on the inestimable help of the various councilors and of Fr Christian Körner, Vice-General, who has maintained with great generosity and efficiency, the work of the curia.  Likewise, those who maintain this contact with the various living realities of the Carmelite family - the Procurator General, the Delegate for the Nuns, the Webmaster and the General Postulator -  have been of great help. My most sincere gratitude is addressed to all of them.



Finally, and as I usually do every year, I would like to remind you of some anniversaries that we celebrate this year, which are still significant for our history and identity (especially in relation to the Marian dimension of the charism) so that, at the same time, they may project us towards a future full of challenges.

First of all, I would like to mention the first centenary of the canonical coronation of the image of Our Lady of Mt Carmel (Nossa Senhora do Carmo) of Recife, who was at the same time named Patron of the city and the Ecclesiastical Province of Pernambuco, in the Northeast of Brazil.  I do not think I exaggerate if I say that it is the most massive festival of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in the world.  Each year, around the solemnity of July 16, hundreds of thousands of people participate in the celebrations and the procession and honor Our Lady of Mount Carmel with great devotion.  A few kilometers from Recife is the convent of Olinda, considered the first Carmelite foundation of the American continent and whose restoration and rededication we celebrated solemnly some years ago.

That deep connection between the mission and a healthy Marian devotion should motivate us to continue working in our day on that same line. Popular Marian piety cannot distract us from the fundamental mission of the Christian which is to announce the good news of salvation.  Moreover, this piety -if it is authentic- sends us, challenges us, impels us to be living witnesses of the Gospel and to live it with gratitude and generosity.

Congratulations to the Carmelite Province of Pernambuco and to the entire Brazilian Carmelite family on this centenary and we pray that Our Mother of Carmel may help the Order and the Carmelite family to grow in those lands.

Secondly, I would like to point out that - as you already know from the official communications of the Order - the commemorative acts of the eighth centenary of the death of Saint Angelus of Sicily are beginning, for which a series of religious and cultural celebrations have been organized and will be developed in the coming months. St. Angelus is undoubtedly one of the leading figures of the early days of the history of our Order.  Because of the scant data we have of his life, we know that he probably came from the Holy Land (in fact, he is also known as St. Angelus of Jerusalem) and that he dedicated his life to preaching.  Likewise, he is usually linked, even iconographically, with Saint Dominic Guzman and with Saint Francis of Assisi, thus emphasizing the inclusion of Carmel among the mendicant orders.

The figure of St. Angelus invites us to a genuinely evangelical preaching (precisely now that we are preparing to celebrate the Novena in honor of the Our Lady of Mt Carmel) and reminds us of our origins in the Holy Land, in the land of the Lord.  May the celebration of this centenary help us in our mission and make us, also, announcers of the Mystery of salvation.  Congratulations to the universal Carmel and especially to the Italian Carmel for this centenary, as well as to the city of Licata that jealously guards the memory of the Carmelite saint.

This year we also celebrate 50 years of the restoration of the British Province, one of the oldest of the Order and suppressed in the sixteenth century, after the break in the time of Henry VIII.  For this reason, I will celebrate there (in Aylesford and then in Wales, one of the places where the Irish Carmelites began their restoration work) the Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel this year.  The Province (now known as Britannia Maioris) is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the Marian mystery that reminds us that the Virgin precedes us on the path and that She is a pledge and guarantee of that universal call to salvation.  In countries where Catholics are a minority, but also throughout the world, the Church asks us today to make an effort to live our Marian devotion with authenticity, with ecumenical sensitivity and with the same humility that made Mary great (Lk 1:48-49).  Perhaps in these countries it becomes more evident that God acts in small ways and that, only from these small ways can his Kingdom can be built.  With this motive I want to congratulate the British Province for this anniversary and for the Province of Ireland that, with great generosity, embarked on this adventure of restoring Carmel in Great Britain.

Finally, I would also like to mention the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the beatification of Isidore Bakanja, the young Congolese who was savagely beaten for refusing to give up his faith and taking off the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel that he wore around his neck, which for him was a tangible sign of the faith he professed.  Moreover, that scapular that became a small reminder of his baptism, led him to the truly heroic attitude of forgiving the one who had mortally wounded him and led him, ultimately, to the sublime testimony of evangelical charity taken to the highest degree - to martyrdom.  His testimony, proposed to the Church 25 years ago at the solemn beatification ceremony that took place in Rome, must continue to be a true inspiration for us today. The humble, like Isidore, show us the most genuine and the most authentic aspects of our Marian devotion.


In 2020, there will be a new Prior General who will sign this letter of congratulations for the feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Our Mother and Sister, the Domina loci that is at the center of our lives and that inspires and encourages us to live our Carmelite charism at the service of the Gospel, for the people of God and for all humanity.


From now on I wish you all the best and a fruitful service to the family of Carmel. We place under the maternal protection of Mary both the General Chapter and the next six years. She will guide us with sweetness and affection and, like Stella Maris, she will show us the way of salvation to which She, Mary of Nazareth, gave her whole life.

A big hug to everyone and ... Congratulations!

Fernando Millán Romeral, O.Carm.

Prior General

The Solemnity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel July 16th, 2019

The Transfiguration of Jesus 

A new way of fulfilling the prophecies

Luke 9:28-36

1. Opening prayer

Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection. 

Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.

2. Reading

a) A key to the reading:

A few days earlier, Jesus had said that he, the Son of Man, had to be tried and crucified by the authorities (Lk 9:22; Mk 8:31). According to the information in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, the disciples, especially Peter, did not understand what Jesus had said and were scandalised by the news (Mt 16:22; Mk 8:32). Jesus reacted strongly and turned to Peter calling him Satan (Mt 16:23; Mk 8:33). This was because Jesus’ words did not correspond with the ideal of the glorious Messiah whom they imagined. Luke does not mention Peter’s reaction and Jesus’ strong reply, but he does describe, as do the other Evangelists, the episode of the Transfiguration. Luke sees the Transfiguration as an aid to the disciples so that they may be able to overcome the scandal and change their idea of the Messiah (Lk 9:28-36). Taking with him the three disciples, Jesus goes up the mountain to pray and, while he is praying, is transfigured. As we read the text, it is good to note what follows: “Who appears with Jesus on the mountain to converse with him? What is the theme of their conversation? What is the disciples’ attitude?”

b) A division of the text as an aid to the reading:

i) Luke 9:28: The moment of crisis 

ii) Luke 9:29: The change that takes place during the prayer

iii) Luke 9:30-31: The appearance of the two men and their conversation with Jesus

iv) Luke 9:32-34: The disciples’ reaction

v) Luke 9:35-36: The Father’s voice

c) The text:

Luke 9:28-36

28 Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white. 30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and  spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah" - not knowing what he said. 34 As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" 36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.

3. A moment of prayerful silence

so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

4. Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.

a) What pleased you most in this episode of the Transfiguration? Why?

b) Who are those who go to the mountain with Jesus? Why do they go?

c) Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain next to Jesus. What is the significance of these two persons from the Old Testament for Jesus, for the disciples for the community in the 80s? And for us today? 

d) Which prophecy from the Old Testament is fulfilled in the words of the Father concerning Jesus? 

e) What is the attitude of the disciples during this episode? 

f) Has there been a transfiguration in your life? How have such experiences of transfiguration helped you to fulfil your mission better? 

g) Compare Luke’s description of the Transfiguration of Jesus (Lk 9:28-36) with his description of the agony of Jesus in the Garden (Lk 22:39-46). Try to see whether there are any similarities. What is the significance of these similarities?

5. A key to the reading

for those who wish to go deeper into the theme.

a) The context of Jesus’ discourse:

In the two previous chapters of Luke’s Gospel, the innovation brought by Jesus stands out and tensions between the New and the Old grow. In the end, Jesus realised that no one had understood his meaning and much less his person. People thought that he was like John the Baptist, Elijah or some old prophet (Lk 9:18-19). The disciples accepted him as the Messiah, but a glorious Messiah, according to the propaganda issued by the government and the official religion of the Temple (Lk 9:20-21). Jesus tried to explain to his disciples that the journey foreseen by the prophets was one of suffering because of its commitment to the excluded and that a disciple could only be a disciple if he/she took up his/her cross (Lk 9:22-26). But he did not meet with much success. It is in such a context of crisis that the Transfiguration takes place.

In the 30s, the experience of the Transfiguration had a very important significance in the life of Jesus and of the disciples. It helped them overcome the crisis of faith and to change their ideals concerning the Messiah. In the 80s, when Luke was writing for the Christian communities in Greece, the meaning of the Transfiguration had already been deepened and broadened. In the light of Jesus’ resurrection and of the spread of the Good News among the pagans in almost every country, from Palestine to Italy, the experience of the Transfiguration began to be seen as a confirmation of the faith of the Christian communities in Jesus, Son of God. The two meanings are present in the description and interpretation of the Transfiguration in Luke’s Gospel.

b) A commentary on the text:

Luke 9:28: The moment of crisis

On several occasions Jesus entered into conflict with the people and the religious and civil authorities of his time (Lk 4:28-29; 5:21-20; 6:2-11; 7:30.39; 8:37; 9,9). He knew they would not allow him to do the things he did. Sooner or later they would catch him. Besides, in that society, the proclamation of the Kingdom, as Jesus did, was not to be tolerated. He either had to withdraw or face death! There were no other alternatives. Jesus did not withdraw. Hence the cross appears on the horizon, not just as a possibility but as a certainty (Lk 9:22). Together with the cross there appears also the temptation to go on with the idea of the Glorious Messiah and not of the Crucified, suffering servant, announced by the Prophet Isaiah (Mk 8:32-33). At this difficult moment Jesus goes up the mountain to pray, taking with him Peter, James and John. Through his prayer, Jesus seeks strength not to lose sense of direction in his mission (cf. Mk 1:35).

Luke 9:29: The change that takes place during the prayer

As soon as Jesus starts praying, his appearance changes and he appears glorious. His face changes and his clothes become white and shining. It is the glory that the disciples imagined for the Messiah. This transformation told them clearly that Jesus was indeed the Messiah expected by all. But what follows the episode of the Transfiguration will point out that the way to glory is quite different from what they imagined. The transfiguration will be a call to conversion.

Luke 9:30-31: Two men appear speaking with Jesus

Together with Jesus and in the same glorious state there appear Moses and Elijah, the two major exponents of the Old Testament, representing the Law and the Prophets. They speak with Jesus about “the Exodus brought to fulfilment in Jerusalem”. Thus, in front of the disciples, the Law and the Prophets confirm that Jesus is truly the glorious Messiah, promised in the Old Testament and awaited by the whole people. They further confirm that the way to Glory is through the painful way of the exodus. Jesus’ exodus is his passion, death and resurrection. Through his “exodus” Jesus breaks the dominion of the false idea concerning the Messiah spread by the government and by the official religion and that held all ensnared in the vision of a glorious, nationalistic messiah. The experience of the Transfiguration confirmed that Jesus as Messiah Servant constituted an aid to free them from their wrong ideas concerning the Messiah and to discover the real meaning of the Kingdom of God.

Luke 9:32-34: The disciples’ reaction

The disciples were in deep sleep. When they woke up, the saw Jesus in his glory and the two men with him. But Peter’s reaction shows that they were not aware of the real meaning of the glory in which Jesus appeared to them. As often happens with us, they were only aware of what concerned them. The rest escapes their attention. “Master, it is good for us to be here!” And they do not want to get off the mountain any more! When it is question of the cross, whether on the Mount of the Transfiguration or on the Mount of Olives (Lk 22:45), they sleep! They prefer the Glory to the Cross! They do not like to speak or hear of the cross. They want to make sure of the moment of glory on the mountain, and they offer to build three tents. Peter did not know what he was saying. 

While Peter was speaking, a cloud descended from on high and covered them with its shadow. Luke says that the disciples became afraid when the cloud enfolded them. The cloud is the symbol of the presence of God. The cloud accompanied the multitude on their journey through the desert (Ex 40: 34-38; Nm 10:11-12). When Jesus ascended into heaven, he was covered by a cloud and they no longer saw him (Acts 1:9). This was a sign that Jesus had entered forever into God’s world.

Luke 9:35-36: The Father’s voice

A voice is heard from the cloud that says: “This is my Son, the Chosen, listen to him”. With this same sentence the prophet Isaiah had proclaimed the Messiah-Servant (Is 42:1). First Moses and Elijah, now God himself presents Jesus as the Messiah-Servant who will come to glory through the cross. The voice ends with a final admonition: “Listen to him!” As the heavenly voice speaks, Moses and Elijah disappear and only Jesus is left. This signifies that from now on only He will interpret the Scriptures and the will of God. He is the Word of God for the disciples: “Listen to him!”

The proclamation “This is my Son, the Chosen; listen to him” was very important for the community of the late 80s. Through this assertion God the Father confirmed the faith of Christians in Jesus as Son of God. In Jesus’ time, that is, in the 30s, the expression Son of Man pointed to a very high dignity and mission. Jesus himself gave a relative meaning to the term by saying that all were children of God (cf. John 10:33-35). But for some the title Son of God became a resume of all titles, over one hundred that the first Christians gave Jesus in the second half of the first century. In succeeding centuries, it was the title of Son of God that the Church concentrated all its faith in the person of Jesus.

c) A deepening:

i) The Transfiguration is told in three of the Gospels: Matthew (Mt 17:1-9), Mark (Mk 9:2-8) and Luke (Lk 9:28-36). This is a sign that this episode contained a very important message. As we said, it was a matter of great help to Jesus, to his disciples and to the first communities. It confirmed Jesus in his mission as Messiah-Servant. It helped the disciples to overcome the crisis that the cross and suffering caused them. It led the communities to deepen their faith in Jesus, Son of God, the One who revealed the Father and who became the new key to the interpretation of the Law and the Prophets. The Transfiguration continues to be of help in overcoming the crisis that the cross and suffering provoke today. The three sleeping disciples are a reflection of all of us. The voice of the Father is directed to us as it was to them: “This is my Son, the Chosen; listen to him!”

ii) In Luke’s Gospel there is a great similarity between the scene of the Transfiguration (Lk 9:28-36) and the scene of the agony of Jesus in the Garden of Olives (Lk 22:39-46). We may note the following: in both scenes Jesus goes up the mountain to pray and takes with him three disciples, Peter, James and John. On both occasions, Jesus’ appearance is transformed and he is transfigured before them; glorious at the Transfiguration, perspiring blood in the Garden of Olives. Both times heavenly figures appear to comfort him, Moses and Elijah and an angel from heaven. Both in the Transfiguration and in the Agony, the disciples sleep, they seem to be outside the event and they seem not to understand anything. At the end of both episodes, Jesus is reunited with his disciples. Doubtless, Luke intended to emphasise the resemblance between these two episodes. What would that be? It is in meditating and praying that we shall succeed in understanding the meaning that goes beyond words, and to perceive the intention of the author. The Holy Spirit will guide us.

iii) Luke describes the Transfiguration. There are times in our life when suffering is such that we might think: “God has abandoned me! He is no longer with me!” And then suddenly we realise that He has never deserted us, but that we had our eyes bandaged and were not aware of the presence of God. Then everything is changed and transfigured. It is the transfiguration! This happens every day in our lives.

6. Psalm 42 (41)

“My soul thirsts for the living God!”

As a hart longs for flowing streams, 

so longs my soul for thee, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. 

When shall I come and behold the face of God? 

My tears have been my food day and night, 

while men say to me continually, "Where is your God?" 

These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: 

how I went with the throng, 

and led them in procession to the house of God, 

with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, 

a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul, 

and why are you disquieted within me? 

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my help and my God. 

My soul is cast down within me, 

therefore I remember thee from the land of Jordan 

and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep at the thunder of thy cataracts; 

all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me. 

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love; 

and at night his song is with me, 

a prayer to the God of my life. 

I say to God, my rock: 

"Why hast thou forgotten me? 

Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" 

As with a deadly wound in my body, 

my adversaries taunt me, 

while they say to me continually, 

"Where is your God?" 

Why are you cast down, O my soul, 

and why are you disquieted within me? 

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, 

my help and my God.

7. Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

Lectio Divina:
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