My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
ON AUGUST 1-15
OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH OBSERVES THE
SUMMER FAST IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR HOLY TRADITION
AND HONORS THE DORMITION (KOIMISIS) OF OUR MOST
HOLY AND GLORIOUS LADY, THE THEOTOKOS AND EVER
Apolytikion (Dismissal) of the Holy Feast. First Tone
IN giving birth, thou didst preserve thy virginity; in thy dormition
thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos. Thou was
translated (metastasis) unto life, since thou art the Mother of Life;
and by thine intercessions, dost thou redeem our souls from
Kontakion Hymn. Second Tone
THE grave and death could not hold the Theotokos, who is unsleeping
as the Mother of Life she was translated to life by Him Who dwelt in
her ever-virgin womb.
On August 1st Orthodox Christians throughout the world begin the two-week fast in preparation for the final great feast of the Church ecclesiastical year the Koimiis (Dormition) or falling-asleep of the Holy and Glorious Lady, the Theotokos (Mother of God), and Ever-Virgin Mary. This holy celebration and commemoration are known among the Orthodox Christians as the “SUMMER PASCHA.”
As Orthodox Christians, the celebration of the All-Holy Pascha is at the center of all that we commemorate and of all holy feasts of the Church. Pascha is the greatest feast or the feast of feastis ts of our Christian Faith. The climax and summit of ecclesiastical celebrations is the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The unwaning Light of the Resurrection is the Light of Life for all those who believe in the only Savior of the world, Christ God.
Among the many solemn hymns of the Church is the following hymn that is dedicated to the Theotokos,
‘O Marvelous Wonder! The source of Life is laid in the tomb,
and the tomb itself becomes a Ladder to Heaven. Your glory
is full of Majesty, shining with grace in Divine brightness.’ (Vesperal Sticheron)
Indeed the Theotokos is the Platetera ton Ouranon (‘She who is more spacious than the Heavens’) and contained the uncontainable God in her womb. She is truly the heavenly ladder for those who believe in her Son and God Jesus Christ. The Mother of God is the first to share in the fulness of the promise of the Resurrection. Just as she carried the Incarnate Logos/Word made flesh in her holy arms she is carried by Christ body and soul into the glorious eternal life.
Concerning the Koimisis (Dormition) of the Theotokos, this is what the Holy Orthodox Church has received from ancient times from the Holy Tradition of the Fathers. When the time drew near that our Savior was well-pleased to take His Mother to Himself, He declared unto her through an Angel that three days hence, He would translate (metastasis) her from the temporal life to eternity and bliss. On hearing this, she went up in haste to the Mount of Olives, where she prayed continuously. Giving thanks to God, she returned to her house and prepared whatever was necessary for her burial. While these things were taking place, clouds caught up the Apostles from the ends of the earth, where each one happened to be preaching, and brought them at once to the house of the Mother of God, who informed them of the cause of their sudden gathering. As a mother, she consoled them in their affliction as was necessary, and then raised her hands to Heaven and prayed for the peace of the world. She blessed the Apostles, and, reclining upon her bed with seemliness, gave up her All-Holy spirit into the hands of her Son and God.
With reverence and many lights, and chanting, burial hymns, the Holy Apostles took up the God-receiving body and brought it to the Sepulchre, while the Angels from Heaven chanted with them, and sent forth her who is higher than the Cherubim. But one Jew moved by malice, audaciously stretched forth his hand upon the bed and immediately received from divine judgment the wages of his audacity. Those daring hands were severed by an invisible blow. But when he repented and asked forgiveness, his hands were restored. When they had reached the place called Gethsemane, they buried there with honor the All-immaculate body of the Theotokos, which was the Source of Life. But on the third day after the burial, when they were eating together, and raised up the ARTOS (bread) in Jesus’ Name, as was their custom, the Theotokos appeared in the air saying, “REJOICE” to them. From this they learned concerning the bodily TRANSLATION (METASTASIS) OF THE THEOTOKOS INTO THE HEAVENS.
These things have the Holy Orthodox Church received from the sacred traditions of the Holy Fathers, who have composed many hymns out of reverence, to the glory of the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary. (Source: The Great Horologion)
Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church calls upon all the faithful to observe strictly the two-week fast. This Lenten season of the Dekapentavgousto (15 days of August) is a time of fasting not only from foods but also from the passions, from evil thoughts, from committing sin, and also, is a time for reconciliation with one’s enemies, a time for philanthropy, a time for repentance.
According to our Holy Orthodox Tradition during this holy season, there are divine services conducted such as the Supplication (Paraklesis) Service almost every evening. Names of living members of your family, relatives, and friends are given to the parish priest to pray for during the divine service of the Paraklesis.
On August 6th the Great and Holy Feast of the Holy Metamorphosis (Transfiguration) of Our Lord Jesus Christ is celebrated and a Divine Liturgy takes on that holy day. Due to the Major Feast of the Holy Transfiguration, the Church relaxes the austere fasting for only that day and allows for fish to be consumed. On that day too the first fruits of the summer are blessed, i.e., grapes.
Please note: It is imperative and most important that all Orthodox Christian people adhere to the Holy Tradition of the Church not only as individuals but as Christian families. Children should be taught the sacred traditions of our Orthodox Christian Faith and to explain to them their meaning, importance, and purpose.
Greek, Russian, Romanian, Serbian, etc. cultural customs are one thing and Orthodox Christian traditions another. We must not confuse the two. The sacred Orthodox traditions ARE NOT OPTIONAL FOR THE ORTHODOX FAITHFUL.
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George