Skip to comments.The blessings of grapes (Feast of the Transfiguration)
Posted on 08/06/2011 1:19:12 PM PDT by NYer
Go buy some grapes today and take them to the priest today, the Feast of the Transfiguration, with a page from the Rituale Romanum (go to p. 345 – Benedictio uvarum), or cut and paste the English text (below, or here) and ask the priest to bless them. You could probably fudge a little and get it done tomorrow.
I found on Fr. Kirby’s blog, Vultus Christi a wonderful reminder of how the Church’s calendar and the rhythm of life and the seasons were integrated. Thus, Fr. Kirby…
The tradition of the Roman Church marks the feast of the martyrs Pope Saint Sixtus and his four deacon companions on the 6th/7th of August by blessing the first grapes of the harvest. This is a sign that, with the feast of the Transfiguration, the Church has entered into a time of fullness, a time that looks for completion.
Today, at the end of Holy Mass (10:00 a.m.) we will have the blessing of grapes, using the form given in the Roman Ritual:
BLESSING OF GRAPES
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who hath made heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.
Bless, we beseech Thee, O Lord, this fresh fruit of the vine,
which Thou hast graciously brought to full ripeness
with the dew of heaven, abundant rain, and calm and fair weather.
Thou hast given them for our use;
grant that we may receive them with thanksgiving
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the True Vine,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost,
God for ever and ever.
(And they are sprinkled with holy water.)
I was delighted by the reference to “dew of heaven… rore caeli“. You might recall the controversy over the reference to “dew” when the new, corrected translation was being prepared. Some critics, for example, His Excellency Bp. Trautman, objected that the image of dew at the beginning of the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer was too hard for people to understand. You might also recall the beautiful Gregorian chant Introit Rorate caeli.
To help you remember, that phrase in EP2 is “Haec ergo dona, quaesumus, Spiritus tui rore sanctifica ut nobis Corpus et Sanguis fiant Domini nostri Iesu Christi. … Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” That translation is the new, corrected ICEL version, by theway.
The cultivation of certain types of grapes requires special conditions. In a contrast to the benefits of dew lauded in the prayer of the blessing, however, dew isn’t always good for grapes. Dew helps fungus get hold, through in the case of some grapes, certain fungi are welcome, as in the case of the “noble rot” in a very late harvest which produces wines of a spectacular sweetness and depth. Also, it is important to harvest grapes after dissipation of dew. But certainly the evocation of dew in the prayer refers to the necessary moisture grapes need for their proper development. And of course, dew is a Scriptural image for the descent of God with graces.
The coming of and effects of the Holy Spirit, in Scripture and in the Fathers of the Church, are often described not by fire imagery, but rather by water images and, indeed, dew. First, ros can come from above like rain. Second, ros is dew which forms nearly imperceptibly. In one case, rain flows across a thing and washes it. Dew slowly dampens. In both cases there results a penetrating soaking. Arid ground yields to planting. Seeds germinate and sprout. The ros Spiritus in the 2nd Eucharistic Prayer can be both the cleansing and the moistening.
Our Catholic doctrine of sanctification teaches us that at baptism a person is both justified and sanctified by the washing/indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That sanctification can be deepened through the course of ones life. It comes suddenly. It comes gradually.
In Scripture the psalmist sings about the King of Justice. May he be like rain (Vulgate ros) that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth! (Ps 72:6 RSV). In the Song of Songs, we hear, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one; for my head is wet with dew (ros), my locks with the drops of the night. By night I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them (Cant 5:2-3). St. Augustine (+430) saw in the lover and beloved an image of Christ calling His ministerial Church to service. From Isaiah we have an image which has come into the Latin Churchs liturgy, namely, Rorate caeli desuper Shower (rorate), O heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may sprout forth, and let it cause righteousness to spring up also; I the LORD have created it (Is 45:8 Vulgate and RSV Introit 4th Sunday of Advent).
The Fathers made much of ros through an allegorical technique of interpretation. Origen (+254), via Rufinus translation of the Homilies on the Book of Judges (8.5) says: But we also, if only we might offer our feet, the Lord Jesus is ready to wash the feet of our soul and cleanse them with a heavenly washing (rore caelesti), by the grace of the Holy Spirit, by the word of sacred doctrine. Saint Ambrose of Milan (+397), who drew much upon Origens writings as a starting point, in his work on the Holy Spirit wrote: The Holy Scriptures were promising to us this rainfall (pluvia) of the whole world, which watered the orb under the coming of the Lord, in the falling dew of the divine Spirit (Spiritus rore divini) (De spiritu sancto 1.8).
The imagery of grapes is also Scriptural. The immediate association for Catholics is the Eucharist. But grapes symbolize the end times. They have an eschatological import. In Revelation 14:19-20 we have an image of the end times and judgment when the grapes of wrath are pressed in the winepress:
And the angel thrust in his sharp sickle into the earth and gathered the vineyard of the earth and cast it into the great press of the wrath of God: And the press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the press, up to the horses bridles, for a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
Of course the image of grapes is a happy one as well… obviously. From the ancient Roman Church grapes are found in carvings in the catacombs and on sarcophagus reliefs. Bunches of ripe grapes are symbols of completion, that the season has finally brought things to fruition. Grapes remind us that Christ is the Vine, whence all our life and hope flows out to us, His branches and tendrils.
In those ancient depictions we sometimes see the harvest of grapes, which is the happy completion of life. For example there is the relief of the famous 4th c. sarcophagus with the Good Shepherd from the Catacombs of Praetextatus which shows a harvest. In the Catacomb of Priscilla there is a 4th century carving of a dove eating grapes, the dove being a symbol of the Christian soul and grapes the happy attainment of the goal of fulness in due time, heaven. Remember that reference, above, to the dove from the Song of Songs? It all fits together. You can click on that image of the Good Shepherd for a larger view.
Grapes remind us that we shall be known from the fruits we both bear and we generate for the benefit of others. Grapes remind us that we should not be sour grapes for others. Grapes remind us that, if we do not live our vocations as the Lord’s branches well, then the grapes may be those of wrath. Though mercy and forgiveness is what the Lord offers those who fall.
So, get your grapes and get them blessed if you can.
When you eat them consider:
I’m drinking some right now...
[CATHOLIC/ORTHODOX CAUCUS] 4th Luminous Mystery: The Transfiguration (Patristic Rosary)
[CATHOLIC/ORTHODOX CAUCUS] Pope leaves Castel Gandolfo on unannounced pilgrimage for Transfiguration
[CATHOLIC / ORTHODOX CAUCUS] On the Feast of the Transfiguration: A Meditation on Seeing
Roman and Byzantine Catholics to celebrate feast of the Transfiguration
Inexpressible Joy: Meditation on the Transfiguration (Excerpt-Surrender: A Guide for Prayer)
Pope: No Resurrection Without the Cross (Reflects on Gospel Account of Transfiguration)
Homilies preached by Father Altier on the Feast of the Transfiguration
Maronite Catholic: Hoosoyo of the Transfiguration
AUGUST 6 - FEAST OF THE TRANSFIGURATION
It Is Good For Us To Be Here: The Transfiguration of the Lord
So am I.... Just about to finish the bottle....Tomorrow I will pray for forgiveness... :^)
We had the Blessing of Grapes after Divine Liturgy Friday night at my Orthodox parish (the Orthodox day starts at 6pm). I did not have to ask or bring my own grapes. And the grapes were delicious.
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