My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE FALLING ASLEEP (KOIMISIS) OF THE MOTHER OF GOD
It must be remembered that this is NOT the ASSUMPTION that the Holy Orthodox Church observes on the 15th of August, but THE FEAST OF THE DORMITION (KEEMEESIS or KOIMISIS) or "FALLING ASLEEP" of the Holy Virgin. This Most Sacred Feast marks THE FALLING ASLEEP OF THE MOTHER OF GOD, which was followed by the TRANSLATION (METASTASIS) of her Sacred Body three days later into heaven. This Feast, therefore, marks HER SOUL BEING COMMENDED INTO HER Son’s hands and the short sojourn of her divine body in the tomb. Death IS NOT THE ANNIHILATION OF OUR EXISTENCE, BUT A PASSAGE FROM EARTH TO HEAVEN.
It was Saint Juvenal (5th Century) Patriarch of Jerusalem, who related to Saint Pulcheria the earliest traditions concerning the translation of the holy relics of the Theotokos. At the end of the 6th century, Emperor Maurice (582-602 A.D.), dated the Virgin Thetokos’ August Dormition as the 15th of August. He ordered that the Feast be celebrated throughout the universe. Unlike the Resurrection of Christ, the mysterious character of her death, burial, resurrection, and ascension were not the subject of Apostolic teachings, or at least there are no extant epistles; yet it has been revealed to the inner consciousness of Our Holy Orthodox Church. Inaccessible to the view of those outside the Church, the glory of the Theotokos’ Dormition can be contemplated only in the inner light of Holy Tradition. The GLORIFICATION of the Virgin Mother is a result of the voluntary condescension of the Son Who is Incarnate of her and made "Son of Man," capable of dying. The Mother of God is now established beyond the General Resurrection and the Last Judgment, having passed from DEATH to LIFE, from TIME to ETERNITY, from A TERRESTRIAL CONDITION to CELESTIAL BEATITUDE. Hence, the Feast of August 15th IS A SECOND MYSTERIOUS PASCHA, since the Holy Church celebrates, before the end of time, the SECRET FIRSTFRUITS OF ITS ESCHATOLOGICAL CONSUMMATION.
The Theotokos is Bodily Translated (Metastasis) on the Third Day
The holy Apostle Thomas
While Thomas was enlightening the lands of India by preaching the Gospel, the honored Dormition of the Mother of God took place. All the holy Apostles had been caught up from various lands on the clouds of heaven and were transported to Gethsemane, to the bier of the All-Blessed Virgin. By God’s SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT. Thomas was not brought hither. This was permitted by the will of God, that the faithful MIGHT BE ASSURED THA THE Mother of God WAS BODILY TRANSLATED (METASTASIS) INTO THE HEAVENS. For just as they were more greatly assured of the Resurrection of Christ through the disbelief of Thomas, so did they learn OF THE BODILY TRANSLATION (METASTASIS) INTO THE HEAVENS OF THE ALL-PURE Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, through the delay of Thomas.
On the THIRD DAY after the burial, Thomas was suddenly caught up in a cloud in India. He was transported in the air above the tomb of the Virgin. From that vantage point, he beheld the translation of her body into the heavens, and cried out to her, "Whither goest thou, O All-Holy One?" And, removing her cincture, she gave it to Thomas, saying, "Receive this, my friend." And then she was gone.
Thereafter, he descended to find the other Disciples keeping watch over the sepulcher of the Theotokos. He sat down beside them, with the cincture in his hand, greatly saddened that he had not been there when she reposed, as had been the other holy Apostles. Hence, he said, "We are all Disciples of the Master. We all preach the same thing. We are ALL SERVANTS OF ONE LORD, JESUS CHRIST. How, then, is it that you were counted worthy to behold the repose of His Mother, and I was not? Am I not an Apostle? Can it be that God is not pleased with my preaching? I beseech you, my fellow Disciples, Open the tomb, that I also may look upon her remains, and embrace them, and bid her farewell!"
Taking pity on him, the holy Apostles then did as Thomas requested and opened the tomb so that he might at least behold and venerate the sacred relics. The holy Apostles then rolled away the stone and opened the tomb. All were aghast when THEY DISCOVERED THAT HER REMAINS HAD VANISHED, NOT REALIZING THAT JUST MOMENTS BEFORE SHE HAD BEEN BODILY TRANSPORTED TO PARADISE. All that remained were the burial clothes, which emitted a wonderful fragrance. Thus they stood in amazement and then each of them kissed the burial clothes which were lying in the tomb. They then prayed to the Lord that He would reveal to them where the body of the Theotokos HAD BEEN TRANSPORTED.
The Queen goes to dwell with her Son and to
rule with Him forever.
It is noteworthy that the zealous pastor, Saint Gregory of Tours (538-594 A.D.), in his Book of Miracles, testifies to his belief in the dormition of the Virgin–the first of its kind in the West: "Finally when Blessed Mary having completed the course of this life and was to be called from the world, all the holy Apostles gathered to her house from their different regions. And when they had heard that she was to be taken from the world, together they kept watch with her. And lo, the Lord Jesus came with His Angels! Taking her soul, He gave it to the Archangel Michael and withdrew… Again, using the imagery of the Apocrypha, Saint Gregory of Tours speaks of Mary’s body being "taken up and borne on a cloud into Paradise where, now, reunited with her soul and rejoicing with the elect, she enjoys the good things of Eternity which shall never come to an end."
Mary Theotokos and the Orthodox Church
From what we have previously read, we see that the Virgin Mary is more than an example of piety. She is more than a Saint. She is "All-holy," "Ever-virgin," and "Mother of God." She is the Church’s Greatest Theologian. She is the one human–body and soul resurrected, united divinized person who is "more honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than Seraphim." "In her," writes Saint John of Damascus "THE WHOLE MYSTERY OF THE DIVINE ECONOMY" IS PERSONIFIED.
Rejoice, O our intercessor and strong defense!
Rejoice, intercessor of sinners unto salvation!
Rejoice, Queen of those who call themselves by thy Son’s name and
who, after God, art the hope of the heavenly Kingdom!
Rejoice, Mother of Life who, after the Lord, art unto us hope of
eternal life! [Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos in Honor of Her Dormition]
(Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
"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