Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Transfiguration of the Lord: Blessing of the Grapes

Four years ago, there was a post on NLM about the Byzantine tradition of blessing grapes on the feast of the Transfiguration, and it included the text for the blessing.

 Yesterday, Fr. Z had a post noting the existence of this tradition in the Roman Rite as well.  I had been intending to write a post about the history of the tradition, only to find that John Sanidopoulos had a great post on his blog Mystagogy.  The post is a translation of an article by Professor Panagiostis Skaltsis, and it traces the history of the blessing from the early Church's initial attempts to protect the exclusive place of bread and wine in the liturgical offering, up until the Church's decision to bless the grapes on the Feast of the Transfiguration.  Read the whole post here. Toward the end of his article, Professor Skaltsis notes:
With the Transfiguration of the Lord the whole world is illumined and glorified.  Creation is exhilarated and acquires the brilliance that creation at one time had....The blessing of the grapes, representing the harvest of the world, is a liturgical act that emphasizes the doxological and eucharistic offering of the material and the fruits of the earth to the Creator and God of all things.  More so, when this fruit of the vine gives us wine, which Christ blessed in Cana, to show the transfiguration of the world in Christ.  He also gave it to us in the Mystical Supper as the element that at the time of the Divine Liturgy, is made incorrupt by grace, transformed into the Lord's Blood.
The image of Christ restoring creation to its original splendor is captured elsewhere in the Church's liturgy.  As we sang in an Aposticha verse for last night's vespers:
Through your Transfiguration you returned Adam's nature its original splendor, restoring its very elements to the glory and brightness of your divinity.  Therefore we cry out to you: O Creator of all, glory to you!
With the Church, let us pray that even more than the grapes, we may bask in the glory of Christ's transfiguration of creation.  May his light shine upon us.

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