To you my heart has spoken, I have sought your face, your face O Lord, I will seek: do not turn away your face from me.
Such is my translation of the Latin Gregorian chant we sang this morning as we entered our monastic choir for Holy Mass. It was the perfect preparation for hearing the Gospel of the Transfiguration of Jesus. There it was proclaimed: his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as snow. No wonder that Peter wanted to camp out there on
forever! Every human heart, whether it knows or not,
desires to see the glory of God shining on the face of Christ. As contemplatives in the Church, Poor Clares
are privileged to make this our special aim:
to seek his face, that is his presence, in the liturgy, the adoration of
the Eucharist, and the daily events of our lives. We have fulfilled the desire of Peter to
build a tent (in Latin: tabernacle) for him and for Moses and Elijah
(whom we encounter in our daily reading of the Holy Scriptures). Here on Mt. St.
Francis, we and all who join us for worship, can seek and find
him whom are hearts love. Yet, his
divine presence is experienced in different ways, according to his desire and
not ours. Always the bright cloud
overshadows us, drifting between us and a clear seeing of his face. As Mt. Tabor St.
Paul would say, we see in faith, as in a glass,
darkly. Sometimes the cloud is not so
bright, and at other times the sun of his face seems to set and we are
enveloped in nighttime darkness. Why is
this so? The opening prayer for today
gives us a clue:
O God, who have commanded us to listen to your beloved Son, be pleased, we pray, to nourish us inwardly by your word, that, with spiritual sight made pure, we may rejoice to behold your glory.
Our spiritual sight is not yet pure. Who indeed can look steadily at the sun? And every gardener knows that life needs not only light, but also the rain which the dark clouds provide. In our present state of becoming pure, we need the night of his unfelt presence to temper our hearts so that we will live truly for him and not for ourselves. We need to be washed clean by listening to his word, including that hard word, deny yourself, take up your Cross and follow Me.
It would not be long after the Transfiguration before Jesus would take his three favorite disciples apart again, but this time it would be in the darkness of Holy Thursday on the
Mount of Olives. Then, on Friday, only John would be there on
another mount called Calvary. We follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to joy
or to sorrow, to glory or to crisis, trusting that he is the way to the bosom
of the Father.