Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In August, we will celebrate two Great Feasts of the Church: the Transfiguration of our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Dormition (Falling Asleep) of Our Most-holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary. The first of these feasts commemorate the events described by the Evangelists Matthew (17:1-13) and Luke (9:28-36). In view of his approaching death on the cross, the Lord revealed to His chosen disciples the voluntary character of His passion and death. His bright transfiguration on Mount Tabor assured the witnesses that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is truly His Father's radiance, the Deliverer Who freely, out of His love for us, undersigned our terrible debt of sin for which He paid with His most pure blood. And He did it freely, voluntarily, out of love.
One of the peculiarities of this Great Feast is the rite of blessing grapes and apples. The tradition of bringing the first fruits of summer into the temple is positively ancient. In the Christian Church, it is a continuation of Old Testamental practice, and is sanctified by the Apostolic regulations (Rule 3; cf. rule 28 of IV Ecumenical Council).
Although the date of August 6, as the day when fruits shall be blessed, is determined by the natural factor of harvest season, the theological significance of this rite can be seen in the message of the Feast.
In the event of the Transfiguration, the Lord was pleased to show us the new, spiritual, transfigured condition to be acquired by man, and the entire creation, through the Resurrection of the Savior, the condition which will be realized in the Universal Resurrection.
All nature is suffering along with humanity because of our sin, and with us, she is looking for Resurrection and renewal from God. The Church, in blessing the fruits, gives assurance of this hope.
August 1, 1991
[This article is Copyright © Archpriest Victor Sokolov and is used on www.holy-trinity.org with permission.]