My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
AUGUST FAST: AUGUST 1-15
THE GREAT FEAST OF THE MOST VENERABLE DORMITION
OF OUR EXCEEDINGLY PURE LADY, MOTHER OF GOD AND
The death of the Theotokos was Life-Giving and led to heavenly immortal life, and its day of remembrance is a joyful holiday and worldwide festival. Not only does it renew the memory of the wonders (miracles) of the Mother of God, but it also commemorates the unheard-of way in which all the holy Apostles were gathered from every country to her Sacred funeral, the hymns of Divine revelation sung on that occasion by these inspired men, the attendance of Angels, singing and ministering around Her. They escorted Her and followed behind, they aided or opposed, protected and defended, and with all their might assisted in deed and song, those who in any way reverenced that body which had held God IS THE STARTING-POINT OF LIFE, THE SAVING OF OUR HUMAN RACE, SOLEMNLY CHOSEN FROM THE WHOLE CREATION. On the other hand, they secretly fought and opposed the Jews when they insulted Her and rebelled against God in thought and deed. The Lord of Hosts, meanwhile, the Son of the Ever-Virgin, was invisibly present, honoring His Mother’s departure. Into His hands, she entrusted her God-bearing soul, and through Him, Her body, Her soul’s companion, was soon TRANSLATED [METASTASIS] into a heavenly place of Eternal Life, as rightly befits Her whole life from the very beginning.
"…Standing between God and the WHOLE HUMAN RACE, She alone made God a son of man, and men sons of God, rendered the earth heaven and made mankind divine. She along among women was declared the Mother of God by nature TRANSCENDING EVERY NATURE. Through Her unutterable childbearing, She became Queen OF ALL CREATION IN THIS WORLD AND BEYOND, and through Herself, She raised up those below Her, and made Her subjects HEAVENLY INSTEAD OF EARTHLY. She shared in the noblest honor, THE MOST SUBLIME POWER AND THE ORDINATION BESTOWED FROM HEAVEN THROUGH THE Divine Spirit (Acts 1:14-; 2:1-4), and was set HIGH ABOVE ALL, The Supremely Blessed Queen of a blessed race.
Today She has moved from earth to heaven, and now has heaven too as a fitting dwelling place, a palace meet for Her. She has stood on the right hand of the King of All, clothed in vesture wrought with gold, and arrayed in divers colors, as the psalmist and Prophet say of Her (cf. Psalm 45:9); and you should take this garment interwoven with gold to mean Her divinely radiant body, adorned with every type of virtue. For at the present She is the ONLY ONE WHO HAS A PLACE IN HEAVEN WITH HER DIVINELY GLORIFIED BODY IN THE COMPANY OF Her Son. Earth, the grave, and death could not ultimately detain Her Life-Giving body which has held God and been a more beloved habitation for Him than heaven and the heaven of heavens. For it a soul which has the grace of God dwelling within it goes up to heaven when released from this world, as we believe and is evident on many accounts, how can that body which not only received within it the Pre-Eternal, Only-Begotten Son of God, the Ever-flowing Fount of Grace but was also plainly seen to bear Him, fail to be taken from earth to heaven? Could She Who, when only three years old, before the heavenly child had dwelt within Here and been clothed by Her in flesh, lived in the Holy of Holies, and Who became excellent and truly heavenly earth subject to corruption? How could this seem reasonable to people who take a rational view?
It was right, therefore, that the body WHICH BROUGHT FORTH THE SON SHOULD BE GLORIFIED WITH HIM IN DIVINE GLORY AND THAT THE ARK OF CHRIST’S HOLINESS SHOULD ARISE WITH HIM WHO ROSE ON THE THIRD DAY, AS THE PROPHET SANG (cf. Psalm 132:8). The linen cloths and winding-sheets left behind in the tomb, which were all that those who came to look for her found there, proved to the Disciples that She too had risen from the dead, just as was earlier the case with Her Son and Lord (cf. Luke 24:12; John 20:5-7). It was not, however, necessary for Here, as it was for Her Son and God, to stay for a while longer on earth, SO SHE WAS TAKEN UP DIRECTLY FROM THE GRAVE TO THE HEAVENLY REALM, WHENCE SHE SENDS BRIGHT SHAFTS OF HOLY LIGHT AND GRACE DOWN TO EARTH, ILLUMINATING ALL THE SPACE AROUND THE WORLD, AND IS VENERATED, ADMIRED, AND HYMNED BY ALL THE FAITHFUL.
It is as though God wanted to set up an icon of everything good and, in so doing, to display His own image clearly to Angels and men, and thus He made Her so truly beautiful. Bringing together all the various means He had used to adorn all creation, He made Her A WORLD OF EVERYTHING GOOD, BOTH VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE. Or rather, He revealed Her AS THE SYNTHESIS OF DIVINE, ANGELIC, AND HUMAN LOVELINESS, A NOBLER BEAUTY TO EMBELLISH BOTH WORLDS, ORIGINATING FROM THE EARTH BUT REACHING UP, THROUGH HER ASCENSION NOW FROM THE TOMBE TO HEAVEN TO THE HEAVENS AND BEYOND. She UNITED THINGS BELOW WITH THINGS ABOVE AND EMBRACES THE WHOLE OF CREATION WITH THE WONDERS SURROUNDING Her. The fact that she tasted death, which, as I mentioned in the beginning, meant SHE WAS A LITTLE LOWER THAN THE ANGELS, INCREASES THE UNIVERSAL EXCELLENCE OF THE MOTHER OF GOD. That is why all things rightly join together to rejoice the celebration today (Day of Dormition) of the Event.
It is fitting that She, who held Him Who fills all Things and is above all things, should Herself outstrip all, and become higher than all in Her virtues and great honor. She embraces in their entirety the virtues which distributed among the noblest of every age, were sufficient to make them great, and the various graces with which Angels and men have individually been favored by God, and perfects them all in Herself alone with inexpressible excellence. Also, She is Superior to everyone in the after death She became immortal, and She alone lives in Her body with Her Son and God in heaven. Thence She pours down abundant grace on those who honor Her and bestows on them the possibility of reaching up to Her, the receptacle of such great graces, who lavishes the highest benefits upon us in Her goodness, and never ceases to yield a rich harvest and plentiful gifts for us. Anyone observing Her help and generosity in everything good and would say that, for those who live virtuously, the Virgin radiates virtue as the sun radiates visible light for those dwelling below. But were you to shift your mental gaze to the Sun Who marvelously shone forth to mankind from Her, and Who possesses by His very nature everything bestowed on Her by grace, and far more besides, then the Virgin would immediately seem like heaven to you. Having a far more abundant share in God’s good things than all other recipients of His grace in heaven or below, she is as much greater than them as the heavens are greater than the sun, though the Sun is brighter. [Source: Saint Gregory Palamas. The Homilies]
(To be continued)
"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