Thou wast transfigured on the mountain, O Christ our God,
showing to Thy disciples Thy glory as each one could endure;
shine forth Thou on us, who are sinners all, Thy light ever-unending
through the prayers of the Theotokos. O Light-giver, glory be to Thee.
Troparion for the Transfigurationorthodoxaustin.org
In the Orthodox Church, we prepare for major feasts both spiritually and physically. And so we have Great Lent, but we also prepare decorated eggs and festal foods for Pascha. We have the Nativity Fast, but we also make treats and prepare presents for Christmas. On the Feast of the Transfiguration, we prepare baskets of fruit to be blessed.
Each Feast reminds us somehow of the others. Even though the Theotokos is not in the icon for this feast, it falls during the Dormition Fast, and it reminds us of the Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple. On that occasion, her father, St. Joachim, gave candles to all the little girls for them to hold as they accompanied the Theotokos to the Temple to live. On this feast, Christ took two trusted disciples up Mt. Tabor with him so they could understand that He is the God of the living and the dead, with Moses and Elijah appearing.
In the Church, we bless things. We do not believe that matter is evil. We bless water and we bless our homes with that water. We bless the ground and the harvest. We bless our vehicles and our journeys. We bless marriage and the children who come from it. And so during this season of fruitfulness, we gather and bless fruits. But just as preparing your house to be blessed or child to be baptised may not be intuitive, there is an art to preparing fruit to be blessed.
The late archpriest Roman Lukianov was my parish priest in Boston. He often drove me back to college after church, and took me on hospital visits and to nursing homes both because people needed a visit and because he knew that my fiance was a seminarian. (In the Orthodox Church, one should be either married or a monk to be ordained priest.) He also taught me how to cut the grapes for the basket of fruit to be blessed so that the priest doesn’t hand people either a whole bunch of grapes or a fistful of loose ones. Later, when my husband was sent to his second parish, the late archpriest Theodore Shevzov insisted on washing grapes a special way to remove all pesticides, and taught me how.
And sharing the good things are important. So, here is how to prepare a basket for Transfiguration.
Preparing fruit for the basket to be blessed for the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord.
Step one: Clean the sink and fill it with cold water and a teaspoon or so of baking soda. The baking soda is to clean any residual pesticides off the grapes.
Put all your grapes in the sink and add more water if needed. Let them sit there while you do other things.