It is the tradition of the Day of Transfiguration to consecrate grapes, apples and other fruit after the Divine Liturgy. The custom of bringing fruit to the Church for consecration originates in the Old Testament time (Gen 4:2-4; Ex 13:12-13; Num 15:19-21; Deut 8:10-14). The Apostles brought this tradition to the Church of the New Testament (1 Cor 16:1-2). The instruction regarding bringing fruit to the Church is found in the Third Rule of the Apostolic Canon, the earliest collection of ecclesiastic laws (canons), known since the second century. In Greece, August is the month of ripeness of fruit, mostly grapes and new ears of corn. Since old time, the faithful have been bringing them to Church for consecration and as Thanksgiving to God. Saint John Chrysostom wrote, “Plowman receives fruit from the earth not so much for his labour and diligence, as out of goodness of God Who grows this fruit, because neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase.”
Grapes are brought to Church because they are directly related to the Eucharistic sacrament; that is why in the prayer for the consecration of grapes the priest says, “Bless, Lord, this new fruit of vine which reached ripeness because Thou kindly provided good weather, drops of rain and stillness. Let eating this fruit of vine make us joyful. And give us the honor of offering this fruit to Thee, as the gift of purging of sins, altogether with the Holy Body of Thy Christ.”
In the first centuries of Christianity, the faithful brought forth to the temple the fruit and crops of the new harvest: bread, wine, oil, incense, wax, honey etc. Of all these offerings, only bread, wine, incense, oil, and wax were taken to the altar, while the rest was used for the needs of the clergy and the poor whom the church was caring for. These offerings were to express gratitude to God for all goods, but at the same time help servants of God and people in need. Until today, the consecration of bread and wine, eggs and milk and other food has been kept in the consecration of artos in the church and meals at home on Easter. Consecration of flowers and tree branches is performed now on Palm Sunday, the days of the Holy Trinity and Exaltation of the Cross, and on Sunday of the week of the Veneration of the Cross. Cooked wheat or rice with raisins and honey are used as offerings in services for the dead and the remembrance of the reposed. Prosphoros are brought forth for proskomide everywhere even today.
So, on Mount Tabor Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated the Kingdom of God with power, giving the Apostles the joy of communion with God. By His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, the Lord calls us to a new life, to internal transfiguration which would make us meek out of proud, diligent out of idle, sober out of passionate, temperate out of greedy, concentrated out of absent-minded, God-obedient out of self-willed, compassionate out of heartless.
As much as the soul is more precious than the body, so is the internal, spiritual light more important than the external, physical light; and vice versa, internal, spiritual darkness is more dangerous, dreadful and disastrous than the darkness of night or blindness. He who loses internal vision altogether loses the everlasting life with God, of which light is a part, as well as it is a part of the corporal life.
Divine light resides in everyone since baptism. For a human not to be proud and lazy, God does not give him to feel the shining of internal light all the time. But still, this light dwells inside the person’s soul, increased by moral perfection, ardent prayer at church and at home, reading of the Holy Scripture, thinking about God, doing good works, and especially by receiving the Holy Communion. It is dangerous to artificially invoke and try to see the shining of spiritual light. This may lead to being caught in the devilish net. A Clear vision of this light may be given rarely when God finds it necessary to give consolation and support to a Christian.
Internal effect of this light is felt in the peacefulness of soul, disgust for any sin, love for God and one’s neighbors, desire to live for the good, a strong belief and trust God, a longing for the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let us treasure the Kingdom of God inside us so that God would grant us eternal life in the Kingdom of Never-ending Light.
Source: Missionary Leaflet # E48, Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission, La Canada, CA, USA