Sunday, February 17, 2008


The promise of heaven as reward for our labours in Christ is put before us today.

Of course, no natural works can ever merit a supernatural reward, but as members of the Body of Christ, His merits are our own, if we are indeed supernaturally united to Him, and so our good deeds, done for God's glory, inspired by His grace and perfected by the same, become supernaturally meritorious, and earn for us the immarcescible crown (I Peter v, 4) - an endless reward, to be ever with the Lord, a prodigal recompense for our sorrows, labours, and trials here in this passing life.

Our Lord's Transfiguration is not only His manifestation of His glory and majesty, to arm His disciples against despair at the sight of his fast-approaching Passion: it is His promise of what believers shall attain, if only, persevering to the end, they are saved.

We ought (as Fr Rowe preached today) frequently to repeat the prayer of St Peter, "Lord, it is good to be here" - that is, Lord, it will be good to be with Thee in heaven: grace me to attain it.

Just as last Sunday we were shown Satan's machinations, and forewarned of Hell, so today we glimpse Heaven, that last of the Last Things, toward which we should strive. As the first postulate of practical reason informs us - Eschew Evil, Seek after Good.

It is not for nothing that, besides the Synoptic Gospellers (St Matthew xvii, 1-9; St Mark ix, 1-9; St Luke ix, 28-36), St John alludes to this great theophany: "And we have seen His glory, the glory as of the Only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth" (i, 14), in words repeated at the end of every classical Roman Mass. St Peter, too, in his second "encyclical", speaks of this sacred doctrine, in words linking the Transfiguration (II St Peter i, 16-18) to our own deification (II St Peter i, 4):

II St Peter

1:1 Simon Peter, servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained equal faith with us in the justice of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
2 Grace to you and peace be accomplished in the knowledge of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord:
3 As all things of his divine power which appertain to life and godliness, are given us, through the knowledge of him who hath called us by his own proper glory and virtue.
4 By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world.
10 Wherefore, brethren, labour the more, that by good works you may make sure your calling and election. For doing these things, you shall not sin at any time.
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
16 For we have not by following artificial fables, made known to you the power, and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we were eyewitnesses of his greatness.
17 For he received from God the Father, honour and glory: this voice coming down to him from the excellent glory: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
18 And this voice we heard brought from heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount.

On a somewhat lesser note, I close with mention of today's beautiful Introit, which we sang at Mass: "Reminiscere miserationem tuarum Domine..." (Remember Thy mercies, O Lord...), with its beautiful intonation and swelling notes. It reminds me of that other sentence of Scripture: "In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin" (Ecclesiasticus vii, 40). Would that I would! Thank God for confession and absolution, recently given and received, but always needed again... This life is a warfare: Remember thy mercies, O Lord.

After the end of Mass, we sang (perhaps more appropriate to last Sunday!) "Forty days and forty nights", whose words and stirring Germanic tune may be accessed here.

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