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Last Beams of Sunlight

The last beams of sunlight as the sun climbs into the sky.

Ἑστῶτες ἦσαν οἱ πόδες ἡμῶν ἐν ταῖς αὐλαῖς σου, ῾Ιερουσαλήμ.

Our feet stood in thy courts, O Jerusalem. (Psalm 121:2)

Transfiguration Mosaic

When the mosaic of the Transfiguration is illuminated by the reflected beams of the morning sun, it is possible to imagine the church as it was when it was first built. The original templon was made of Proconnesian marble, with columns of porphyry. It was low, and allowed an unobstructed view of the mosaic.

Anyone fortunate enough to attain to the divine energy, and to undergo divine transformation, himself becomes completely like the light. He is with the light, and by means of it sees clearly things which, were it not for this great and inexpressible grace, would be invisible to all. According to the Lord’s Beatitude, which cannot prove false, those whose hearts have been purified see God, Who, in the words of the great Theologian, John the Son of Thunder, is Light, and dwells in, and reveals Himself to, those who love Him, and are loved by Him, in accordance with His own promise to them.

Saint Gregory Palamas, Homily on the Entry of the Theotokos into the Holy of Holies

Old and New

The eighteenth century iconostasion is surmounted by a Cross that extends almost to the ceiling beams of the basilica. On the back wall, sixth century mosaics depict, on the left, Moses at the Bush that burned with fire without being consumed, and on the right, Moses receiving the Law from the hand of God. There, Moses is depicted standing in a cleft of the rock, from which he beheld the glory and the majesty of God.

Orthodox hymns and icons often make reference to this juxtaposition, the Old Testament foreshadowing the New, the New Testament fulfilling the Old. This is especially vivid at Sinai.

Into the Nave

As the sun rises higher in the sky, the rays of sunlight reach down into the nave.

Joy Hath Come to the Whole World

Δεῦτε πάντες οἱ πιστοί, προσκυνήσωμεν τὴν τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἁγίαν ἀνάστασιν· ἰδοὺ γὰρ ἦλθε διὰ τοῦ Σταυροῦ
 χαρὰ ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ.
 Διὰ παντὸς εὐλογοῦντες τὸν Κύριον, ὑμνοῦμεν τὴν ἀνάστασιν αὐτοῦ·
 Σταυρὸν γὰρ ὑπομείνας δι ̓ ἡμᾶς, θανάτῳ θάνατον ὤλεσεν.

Come, all ye faithful, let us worship Christ’s holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross joy hath come to the whole world. Forever blessing the Lord, we praise his Resurrection. He endured the Cross for us, and  by death destroyed death.

I Will Not Leave You Orphans

Οὐκ ἀφήσω ὑμᾶς ὀρφανούς· ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς.

I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you. (John 14:18)

Rays of Sunlight

During the latter part of April, the sun’s rays enter the church aligned with its axis, which faces directly east.

The first rays of sunlight are more horizontal, and more tentative.

As the sun rises in the sky, its rays become more intense, and more at an angle.

Rays of sunlight stream down past the cross that is over the iconostasion.

This always brings to mind the verse, τοῦ ἀγαπήσαντός με καὶ παραδόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ, “who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Sinai Cat

What, no fish scraps? Again?

Hermitage in the Distance

Bell tower and minaret with the site of an ancient hermitage in the distance

Later in the Day

By midday, the clouds were even lower than they had been that morning.