Posted by: towardtransfiguration | March 12, 2010

Transfigured in the Renewing of Our Minds

Today my wife and I presented Theophostic Prayer Ministry to the leadership of LAMP, a Catholic organization in New York City, as a possible tool to enhance the organization’s work among the poor. Today was also one of the days on which we celebrate the feast of St. Symeon the New Theologian, an appropriate day to talk about a ministry dedicated, as the name suggests,  to allowing the light of God to penetrate the dark corners of our minds. While preparing for the presentation, I read Romans 12:2 in a new way:

καὶ μὴσυσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸδοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον.

And do not be conformed to this age, but be transfigured by the renewing of your minds for the discerning of what is the will of God: what is good, pleasing, and perfect.

μεταμορφοσις evokes a very special kind of transformation since it’s the same word translated as “transfiguration.” In light of the later themes of St. Symeon and the hesychasts, it evokes holiness and closeness with God, shining with the uncreated light revealed at Tabor to be that of Christ himself. This verse implies that our process of transfiguration in this age is co-extensive with the renewing of our minds from conformity with the σχημα or symbolic-system of this world to the interpreting of the will of God. It’s a switch of how we interpret the meaning of things: according to what we know from the Father of Lies whose distortions permeate this world’s way of functioning as the pandemic symptoms of fear, anxiety, self-preservation, and despair reveal, or towards the Truth that puts all things in light of the Father of Lights and his strange self-emptying love for us as big and burning as the Sun. Since our prudential judgments, desires, and emotions follow our beliefs about the meaning of things, the renewing of our minds according to the σχημα of the Father’s reality allows us to properly taste what is good and pleasing and perfect. In receiving the light of his truth we are renewed in our minds, and in tasting of his love we are transfigured.

We’ve found Theophostic Prayer Ministry a remarkably portable and effective means of mind renewal, and a modern tool deeply compatible with Patristic anthropology: so I hope to argue in my MDiv thesis in a couple of years.

In the meanwhile, I hope that God will open doors in New York for this sort of ministry and that the dialogue we began today shall be the beginning of that. During our mutually encouraging conversation, one of LAMP’s leaders, a veteran of decades of  evangelistic and social ministry among the poor, shared God’s heart in particular for the residents of New York’s homeless shelters who, she said, have often experienced unbelievable stories of addiction, sexual exploitation, degradation, pain, and tragedy. Indeed, my wife Miriam, who has already been working with the lovely people at this organization for a few months now and has visited a few of these shelters, has told me that in many ways she finds the economic and social disparity in New York just as striking as in her native Bombay. Through the prayers of our Holy Father among the Saints Symeon the New Theologian, may God send forth his light into these dark places, both in this city and its microcosm within us, that we may be transfigured in the renewing of our minds.

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