A Mountaintop Experience

Basilica of the Transfiguration, atop Mount Tabor in Galilee

Basilica of the Transfiguration, atop Mount Tabor in Galilee

My husband, Deacon Tom, and I have traveled to the Holy Land over 40 times in the last 25 years. The Holy Land is a very special place for us. It’s often called “Fifth Gospel” because it is the land of the Bible and the land of the “living stones”, the descendants of the early Christian Church.

There are many places in the Holy Land which are marked by specific times in our Lord’s life; because of this, they’re called holy sites. One of those holy sites is Mount Tabor, located in the Galilee area — about a 30 minute drive from the Sea of Galilee. It can be seen from miles away, along with the large Church on top of the mountain called the Basilica of Transfiguration, which is under the Custody of the Franciscans. The Franciscans first came to the site in the 1630s and built a church in the twentieth century. Today, the Franciscans continue to have custody of the Basilica. You often see Franciscan friars walking about, praying and available for visitors’ questions and prayer requests.

Mount Tabor is 1,920 feet high. To reach the top, you have to take a narrow, winding road by car (or for the brave ones – by foot) where you find the Basilica of the Transfiguration (also called Basilica of Mt. Tabor) marking the site where our Lord was transfigured as we read in the three Gospel accounts:
Matthew 17:1-8
Mark 9:2-8
Luke 9:28-36

The Catholic Church marks August 6th to celebrate what happened on that mountain. It is called the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

The Transfiguration Scripture story is very interesting – Jesus takes three Apostles up to the mountain with Him to pray. He is transfigured before them. The Apostles hear God’s voice say, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”

I have been on Mount Tabor several times with pilgrim groups. The Basilica and the surrounding area, far from noise and traffic, invites one to take time for silence and prayer. The main message for me is that we need to take time to be alone with the Lord as Peter, James and John were invited to do.

These times of silence and prayer for me have been very rewarding. Though Jesus isn’t transfigured before me, I am aware that He is truly present and He desires to have an intimate relationship with me and give me insights and peace.

I invite you to take time out for a ‘mountaintop experience’ — whether it be in the quietness of your home or especially, if possible, in a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament. God is there, waiting for you.

Depiction of the Transfiguration, inside Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor

Depiction of the Transfiguration, inside Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor


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