The feast of the Transfiguration of Christ celebrates the revelation of Christ’s divine glory on Mount Tabor in Galilee (Matthew 17:1-6; Mark 9:1-8; Luke 9:28-36). After revealing to His disciples that He would be put to death in Jerusalem (Matthew 16:21), Christ, along with Ss. Peter, James, and John, went up the mountain. There, St. Matthew writes, “he was transfigured before them. And his face did shine as the sun: and his garments became white as snow.”
The brightness was not something added to Christ but the manifestation of His true divine nature. For Peter, James, and John, it was also a glimpse of the glories of heaven and of the resurrected body promised to all Christians. As Christ was transfigured, two others appeared with Him: Moses, representing the Old Testament Law, and Elijah, representing the prophets. Thus Christ, Who stood between the two and spoke with them, appeared to the disciples as the fulfillment of both the Law and the prophets.
This festival was originally commemorated on the Vigil of Ember Saturday in Lent. With the decline of liturgical understanding a special festival was instituted in its honor in order to arouse popular devotion to this mystery. It is now the patronal feast of the Lateran Basilica, and of all churches under the title of St. Savior.
There is also a commemoration of Pope Saint Sixtus, Saints Felicissimus and Agapitus, Martyrs. Pope St. Sixtus II, 24th Successor of St. Peter, effected the translation of the mortal remains of the man Christ chose as the first Sovereign Pontiff of His Church. Sixtus also introduced the Latin exclamation Deo gratias into the Ordinary of the holy Mass. He is also referred to as Xystus and is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass. He served in a basilica in Rome, which is called Saint Peter ad Vincula (in chains) was the first martyr actually put to death in the catacombs themselves. Under the Emperor Valerian (258) he was beheaded on his throne just as he finished Mass. His four deacons were put to death with him, and two others, Felicissimus and Agapitus, were decapitated the same day while St. Lawrence, the archdeacon, was put to death three days later.
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INTROIT Psalm 76: 19
Thy lightnings enlightened the world: the earth shook and trembled. (Ps. 83: 2, 3) How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. v. Glory be…etc
O God, Who in the glorious transfiguration of Thine only-begotten Son didst strengthen the sacraments of faith by the testimony of the fathers, and Who didst wonderfully foreshow the perfect adoption of Thy children by a voice coming down in a shining cloud, mercifully grant that we be made co-heirs of the King of glory Himself, and grant us to be sharers in that very glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
Commemoration of Pope St. Sixtus II and Companion martyrs
O God, Who dost permit us to celebrate the birthday of Thy holy martyrs, Sixtus, Felicissimus, and Agapitus grant us to enjoy their companionship in everlasting beatitude. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
EPISTLE 2 Peter 1: 16-19
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Peter the Apostle. Dearly beloved, We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ; but having been made eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor 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. And this voice we heard brought from Heaven, when we were with Him in the holy mount. And we have the more firm prophetical word, whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts..
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Psalm 44: 3, 2
Thou art beautiful above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in Thy lips. V. My heart hath uttered a good word. I speak my works to the King. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Wis. 7: 26) He is the brightness of eternal light, the unspotted mirror, and the image of His goodness. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 17: 1-9
At that time, Jesus took Peter, and James, and John his brother, and bringing them up into a high mountain apart: and He was transfigured before them. And His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as snow. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him. And Peter answering, said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here; if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them; and lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased, hear ye Him.” And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face; and were very much afraid: and Jesus came and touched them, and said to them, “Arise, and fear not.” And they lifting up their eyes saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, “Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 111: 3
Glory and wealth are in His house: and His justice remaineth forever and ever. Alleluia.
Sanctify, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the gifts offered on the glorious transfiguration of Thine only-begotten Son, and by the splendors of that very illumination cleanse us from the stains of our sins. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
Commemoration Secret of Pope St. Sixtus II and Companion Martyrs
We offer Thee, O Lord, the gifts of our devotion; may they be rendered both pleasing unto Thee, for the honor of Thy just ones, and to us, through Thy mercy, helpful to salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
PREFACE of the Nativity
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: for through the Mystery of the word made flesh, the new light of Thy glory hath shone upon the eyes of our mind, so that while we acknowledge God in visible form, we may be through Him be drawn to the love of things invisible. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dóminations, and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matthew 17: 9
Tell the vision you have seen to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead.
Grant, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that with the understanding of a purified mind we may follow those sacred mysteries of Thy Son’s transfiguration which we celebrate with our solemn office. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever.
Commemoration Postcommunion of Pope St. Sixtus II
Grant us, we beseech Thee; O Lord, by the intercession of Thy holy martyrs, Sixtus, Felicissimus, and Agapitus, that what we touch with our lips we may receive with a pure heart. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, For ever and ever.