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Transfiguration (Part 2)
Reflection Week of February 28
"Out of the cloud came a voice which said, "This is my beloved Son on whom my favor rests. Listen to him." Matthew 17:1-9
The grace of the Transfiguration is the radiance of Christ's hidden presence in us. ... When contemplative prayer is consoling, peaceful, meaningful, radiant, the false self quickly identifies with this delightful situation and wants to go on forever. The point to keep in mind is that the divine energy is just as present when it is not perceived. When God's gracious goodness overflows or radiates for a few moments, hour or days, this does not mean that consolation is all there is to contemplation. What we feel is our own interpretation, not the essence of the mystery.
Just as the apostles were always in Jesus' presence as they toured Galilee, we too are always in his presence. But the perception of his presence is reserved to special moments. Mature contemplatives of all times have identified the transfiguration as one of them. We participate in the transfiguration by the experience of spiritual consolation. But we must not let the false self try to hang on to this exuberant gift unduly. Having appreciated and enjoyed it, we must allow the prophets to go back to where they came from, Jesus to come down from the mountain and ourselves to return to the humdrum events of everyday life and to our accustomed state of prayer, which by any standard is usually a mess. The mess effectively hides the divine presence just as the sacred humanity of Jesus-his body, his dirty feet and unruly beard hid his divinity. Jesus was no prize package to behold during his ministry and especially not during his passion and death. Similarly, daily life is Jesus hidden in our ups and downs, under the apprearance of unwanted thoughts, the unloading of the unconscious, and the spasms of pride and lust. The divine action is always present, but our faculties perceive it only when the grace of the transfiguration is infused into us.
Excerpt from Awakenings by Fr. Thomas Keating, chapter 11