Season of Light – WEEK FOUR: The Transfiguration


7 Nov 2019

Praying with the Luminous Mysteries: Jesuit Communications offers a series of reflections around the five Luminous Mysteries. This week we explore the Transfiguration of Jesus.

Parishes and prayer groups: Feel free to print and share our PDF resource, attach it to your parish bulletin or post it on your parish website or Facebook page: Download Season of Light – Week Four PDF.

Gospel readings
Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36

On a high mountain with Peter, John and James, Jesus is transfigured and his clothes become a heavenly ‘dazzling white’. Soon, a voice from heaven announces ‘this is my Son, my chosen; listen to him!’

In Matthew’s account, the disciples fall to the ground in fear. Jesus consoles them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid’.

When we have cause for fear, when we are beset by darkness, may we have the courage to remember this mountaintop scene, and so heed the heavenly prompt: ‘Listen to him!’

1. Peter Saunders tells of how encountering God in Creation can be a transforming experience. What transformative experiences have you had in nature?
2. Peter writes of the ‘Magis Circle’ as a place of listening and sharing. When do you have opportunities to listen and share about the important moments in your days?
3. How do you make space to listen to God in Creation?

Transformed by an experience of Creation

Peter Saunders is the coordinator for the Being with God in Nature ministry based at Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality in Melbourne. He relates the transformative experience of a participant on a Wilderness Retreat held by the ministry.

Transfiguration can take different forms. When Jane*, about 50, arrived at the Wilderness Retreat she had left her phone at home, was stressed, reserved, and didn’t look very fit. I wondered how she would go on the retreat.

The Being with God in Nature ministry offers opportunities for people to experience the Australian landscape and to encounter God in Creation there. The Wilderness Retreat takes people out into nature, in particular into the wilderness of our national parks. They are walking retreats where each person is immersed in the beauty of the presence that is God in all Creation, by walking in a faith group, in silence, in different parts of the national park.

These are contemplative walks so there is no rush. Each person goes at their own pace appreciating the life of the forest as they walk. At the end of each day we have a ‘Magis Circle’, which in Ignatian spirituality is a place of listening where the retreatants share what the experience of the day meant to them, in particular their encounter with God in nature. Jane never spoke in the ‘Magis Circle’ about her experience.

Then one day, with Jane’s group of 10, we took them up to a lookout through a dense forest. It can be challenging at times as we take the participants on these more difficult walks. Jane struggled at the back of the group and when she was about 200 metres from the top she just sat down and said to me, ‘I can’t go any further.’

I sat with Jane, encouraging her. She eventually got up and walked to the lookout. Jane stayed up at the lookout for some time with the group. Then we made our way back down and to my surprise Jane led the way back down.

I couldn’t get over the change in Jane. By the time we got to the bottom she was smiling, full of joy at the beauty she had encountered at the lookout and that she had made it up there herself.

For the rest of the retreat Jane was much lighter and friendlier. In the last ‘Magis Circle’, Jane told us she had some difficult experiences of Church when she was growing up and had not had much to do with it for some years. And then she said ‘My experience of God has changed during this retreat.’

It was lovely to witness this transformation and marvel at how the Spirit works.

*Jane is not her real name.

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