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Prayer even changes the way you look

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Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 08/06/22

People who truly pray are also physically different: they give off a kind of mysterious light in their gaze, face, gestures, smile, and even in their suffering.

While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.

Luke 9:29-31

Luke the Evangelist’s account of the Transfiguration includes one detail that he highlights in all the key passages of Jesus’ life. That detail is prayer: “While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white.” At his Baptism, as at the Transfiguration or the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Luke says that Jesus is praying.

It’s encouraging to think that prayer introduces us into great existential experiences. Jesus prays and feels loved (Baptism), prays and feels enlightened (Transfiguration), and prays and feels he is not alone (the angel consoling him in Gethsemane).

This is something I have been able to ascertain for myself many times in encounters with many individuals. People who truly pray are also physically different: they give off a kind of mysterious light in their gaze, face, gestures, smile, and even in their suffering. One senses a depth that is absent in others.

Prayer is what really puts us in communication with another world that has its door right in our heart. But we must not forget that this immersion in light on Mount Tabor that we solemnly commemorate today is meant to prepare Jesus and his disciples for their descent into the darkness of the Cross.

Until we learn to link together the moments of light and the moments of darkness that come our way, we are doomed to waste both. Good things and bad things are always interconnected, and it’s usually the good things that enable us not to succumb to the bad things. The question is whether we realize this.

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