So … the Feast of the Transfiguration is … a Feast, and it fell on a Saturday this year. It is a biggie for the message it shares, however, liturgically — it is not a Holy Day of Obligation. But it is pretty amazing! So, since it was one of my favorite Fr Dennis homilies when it fell on a Thursday in 2014 (Cycle A), here we go/ rachamuid! His homily, shortened for daily mass sensibilities and kind consideration of the flock’s schedule, works for Cycle C.
Our readings for Transfiguration are here.
This is the link to the dance, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis Dillon SJ’s homilies from the
- Thursday, August 6, 2014 5:10 Daily Mass
The art Fr Dennis references in these years are:
- Alvin Ailey’s Revelations, a dance suite now considered a quintessential American dance choreography, created by Alvin Ailey.
In 2014, we reflected on —
- That August 6 is the anniversary date of the Hiroshima bombing by United States Air Forces in 1945.
- (rl notes, to be clear, Fr Dennis was not saying nuclear detonations are emblematic of the Transfiguration! As one of the generation growing up during WWII and devoted to life, he found it important to remember the anniversary of one of the two days human settlements were subject to nuclear attack on that scale. A very complex time of history — best not to judge but to stay in the vulnerable heart of its complexity.)
- (but … back to Transfiguration!)
- Transfiguration contains readings, and the gospel most particularly, of resplendence.
- We might imagine this moment of Transfiguration akin to the Irish engagement with “thin spaces” in which the resplendent world abides closely with ours. D2 imagine-prayed that the Transfiguration (Peter, John, and James abiding with Jesus transfigured, Moses and Elijah) might feel like a thin space to Peter, John, and James.
- In his life, a rare personal interlude, he recounted that when he was missioned to NYC for his PhD in Film History and Criticism at NYU, he did his best to experience the city. He and others from his Jesuit community would serve at the same Catholic Worker House that Dorothy Day served. (He recounts one encounter in a different homily.) But also, the arts — the hallmark of NYC.
- He had an experience of being so Beloved, so transfigured after watching a performance of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations for the first time, that he wanted to walk rather than take the enclosed limiting subway home. So he near bounced up the stairs out of the subway to street level. It felt like he was walking 1/2 foot off the ground the whole way home, feeling like — yes! he could move like the dancers moved! Of course, as he noted — he wasn’t moving like the dancers and couldn’t, but that sense of possibility arising out of our Belovedness is the gift given to us by God through Jesus and lived in the Spirit.
- When I (rl) heard his homily and watched youtube, I was infected with the Transfiguration, too! The next day my old legs and I dashed out on my bicycle and found myself laughing joyously as I pedaled a furious pace to slowly grind “full speed” up one of Ann Arbor’s steep hills. It came when I walked into the Heathdale, the closest thing to a sacred grove in Ann Arbor, and was surrounded by butterflies. It was present when my high school friends and I overlooked the night lights of “Spaceport Billings” a là STAR WARS and pledged what we were going to do. But that chatter was immediately outshone by turning to the night sky filled with the shining backbone of the Milky Way and sharing who we are. We are Beloved.
- Thanks, D2.
Apologies for the Featured Image quality … but that’s what Transfiguration, a deep moment of Belovedness felt like for me … based on how resonant Fr Dennis’ description of Transfiguration moments feel.
Leaf Quidditch by Lorraine Lamey
The chlorophyll has left the leaves.
A zephyr sets the branches waving farewell
to their bright or brown denizens.
The road ahead drops just right
for the tilted pitch of a Seeker’s two-wheeler.
My bicycle and I take flight coasting downhill
at a hearty speed and with precarious leanings
but not so precarious as in years past.
We sail among the drifting leaves dancing
like sunbeams in and out of my outstretched fingers.
I am transfigured with each ascension
though my pace and joints evoke the rickety-clickety clack
of an early wooden rollercoaster
hauling a full load to its peak height.
The ten minute ascent garners scarcely a two minute ride.
Push off, pedal a bit, brakes ready for the all-stop intersection,
Then pedal furiously to make up for caution.
During each descent, the leaves and wind stream by
By the fourth ascent, I am ten-years-old again
and slough off another decade from my heart and soul.
Weight, worry, and weariness whip behind me.
By the fourth ascent, I am ten-years-old again
and playing leaf quidditch on my bicycle.
In that moment of refulgent joy,
a wee brightest yellow sugar maple leaf