-Fr. Abbot Brendan Coffey

Dear Justin, three years ago you came before this altar and made your simple profession in our community. Today, you are ready to take vows for life and we welcome you, definitively, into our community. You have chosen to take this step on the beautiful feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, a feast so very dear to monks.

There are certain moments in life when we can see another person revealed to us in a depth, which we never saw before. Sometimes this happens in moments of crisis, or moments of great joy or sadness. For some reason we become pure of heart and we see the other in a different light. Although terribly inadequate, this experience can help us appreciate something of the apostles’ vision on that mountain. They saw Christ in glory at a moment when His total surrender to the will of the Father became revealed to them. Moses and Elijah stood beside him, the law and the prophets. Both are necessary in monastic life.

The three apostles are an important part of the scene as well. They wanted to remain there forever, as do we whenever something fills us with wonder, but this is no time for building tents. The tradition of the Church often sees in them the theological virtues. The faith of Peter, the rock, the hope of James, the martyr, and the love of John, the beloved. I commend these virtues to you today, Justin. Seen through the eyes of faith, hope and love the Transfiguration allows us to understand that saying which the Desert Fathers so often repeated. ‘The one who has seen his brother or sister has seen God.’ It is an imperfect community you join here today, and you need to understand the wisdom of this saying to prosper.

There is also another side to our protagonists. Moses had a dark secret; murder. He came across an Egyptian mistreating a Hebrew and killed him. The defining moment in Moses’ life comes at the burning bush. Here God reveals his name to Moses and, in a sense, transfigures him with hope for a better future for God’s people Israel. Filled with this hope he is ready to receive the Law.

You will recall that Elijah doubted God’s love and mercy, even after God had granted him his great victory over the prophets of Baal. He ran away because he was afraid of Jezebel, the queen. God managed to transfigure Elijah through this experience of desolation, renewing his faith. He is now a true prophet.

The three disciples aren’t much better. Peter, the impulsive one, the one who would end up denying his Master at the critical moment. The brothers James and John, who wanted to call down fire on the Samaritan women and children! Who tried to outmanoeuvre the other disciples, to get seats at the right and left of the Lord. Pentecost makes them apostles, filled with faith, hope and love.

In engaging with this gospel, we participate in our own transfiguration, our conversatio morum. Far from perfect, we too can change, convert and become the person God created me to be. For you Justin, that is a monk. Take St Paul’s words as your motto “I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind” (1Cor 14:15). Mens concordet voci, as St Benedict says.

I leave to St Paul the final word, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I reasoned as a child. When I became a man, I put aside the things of childhood, for now we see in a mirror, confusedly, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know only partially, then I shall know fully, just as I am fully known. Now faith, hope and love abide, the three of them, but the greatest of them is love.” (1Cor 13:11-13)




Subscribe To Our Newsletter To Receive Updates