by Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada (OCA)
Some of you will remember Archbishop Nikolai of the Patriarchal Jurisdiction who was bishop in this area a long time ago. When I was visiting him one time, he told me how it was when he was an archimandrite in the Middle East a very long time ago. In those days, he always had to go to Mount Tabor to serve the Liturgy on this feast-day [Feast of the Holy Transfiguration (Aug. 6/19)].
Always on the feast of the Transfiguration (and I didn’t realize it, but I learned this year that it happens on both Old and New calendars), at night-time, at the time of the vigil (which would have been last night for us), there are clouds already gathering around the top of Mount Tabor. (At this time of year in Palestine there are no clouds at all – just sun, sun, sun.) The people go into the church on the top of Mount Tabor, and they are praying in the middle of the night. During this time, this cloud, which is not exactly like ordinary clouds (they say it has a different quality of some sort), comes down on top of the mountain. Archbishop Nikolai says that instead of bringing all their fruit into the church, the people leave it outside. The cloud comes down, and when they come out of the church in the early morning, everything is all wet. The people understand that God, Himself, has blessed their fruit. This happens every year.
I heard from someone who just came back from there (who was there on August 6th on the New Calendar) and it happened then, too. It is happening on both feasts. The Lord doesn’t care too much about the calendar; He cares about us, and reassuring us with His love. He does things like this. It is the same with the Holy Fire in Jerusalem at Pascha that comes every year. He does these things in order to reassure us, to encourage us, to give us strength, and determination to carry on, knowing that He is with us.
Maybe you, and I will never be on Mount Tabor on this feast. However, we know those who have had the blessing to be there, and we know that the words of today’s Gospel are true. What happened then continues to happen now. The Lord is with us. That’s the point. The Lord loves us. He is ready to renew us, and to transform us. Let us do our best to follow the words of St Herman of Alaska, who says to us: “From this day, from this hour, from this minute, let us love God above all, and do His holy will”, and in so doing, glorify the all-holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
[Note: There are three churches of three different denominations on Mount Tabor. It should be noted that this miracle only occurs over the Orthodox church.]