“Let us then rise at length, since the Scripture stirs us up, saying: ‘It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep’ (Rom. 13, 11); and having opened our eyes to the deifying light, let us hear with awestruck ears what the divine voice, crying out daily, admonishes us, saying: ‘Today if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts.’ (Ps. 94: 8; 95, 8 Vulg.).”
Rule of Benedict, Prologue 8-10.
Most translations of the Rule fail to translate deificum lumen as “deifying light.” Few translations, thankfully, do. But what light and what voice? Matthew 17 1-8 provide the answer. It is that very same light which shines through God’s flesh on Mount Tabor. It is a manifestation of God’s life-giving presence. The voice – speaking from the cloud – affirms in no uncertain terms just who Jesus is (and what we are to do about it). “Listen to him” the Gospel says. “Today if you will hear his voice …” “… hearken unto me (listen to me) …” the Rule tells us (quoting Scripture). This listening is that kind of openness which activates the gift of faith and good works: Benedictine obedience. This will bring us to eventually “see Him” (RB, Prologue 21). “The light of Christ illumines all !” the Eastern Orthodox Presanctified Liturgy proclaims. This proclamation follows the entrance into the Altar with the Gospel and the singing of the Vespers hymn “Gladsome Light.”
Let us not pass over this feast of light without pausing to meditate. May this deifying light illumine all of us that keep this holy feast.
Fr. Gregory Wassen