My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE DORMITION OF THE THEOTOKOS AND EVER VIRGIN MARY
By Saint John of Kronstadt
"Magnify O my soul, the honorable Translation of the Mother of God from the earth to heaven." [Refrain for the 9th Ode of the Canon)
Let us all be happy, beloved brothers and sisters that we belong to the Holy Orthodox Church, worthily and rightly glorifying the Most Holy Sovereign Theotokos on this eminent day of all days of the year with special solemnity.
There exists on earth many societies and entire governments that do not consider the need nor the obligation to call upon and glorify the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, and other Saints and Angels; to submissively serve her lovingly, as the True Mother of God. Sadly nowadays we have heretics (among us) who actively dishonor the Mother of God, the Saints, their holy icons, their holy relics and their holy festivals. O, if only they also unanimously with us glorified the worthy Queen of Heaven and earth!
Today (August 15) the Holy Church solemnly glorifies the honorable Dormition (Koimisis) or Translation (Metastasis) of the Mother of God from earth to heaven. A wonderful translation--she died without serious illness, peacefully. Her soul is taken up in the Divine hands of her Son and carried up into the heavenly abode, accompanied by the sweet singing Angels. And then, her Most Pure body is transferred by the Holy Apostles to Gethsemane where it is honorably buried, and on the third day it is resurrected and taken up to heaven.
You see all this on the holy icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. On it is represented the Life-Bearing body of the Theotokos laying on a bier, surrounded by the Holy Apostles and hierarchs, and in the center of the holy icon the Lord holding in His hands the most pure soul of the Theotokos. The translation of the Mother of God is a paradigm of the translation in general of the souls of Christians to the other world.
We say that our dead have "fallen asleep" or "passed away." What does this mean? This means that for the True Christian there is no death. Death was conquered by Christ on the Cross. But there is another translation, i.e., a rearrangement of his condition, i.e., his soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grace, eternal, without end, that is what is meant by "falling asleep." It is as if it were a temporary dream after which, by the voice of the Lord and the fearful yet wonderful trumpet of the Archangel, all the dead shall live and come forth each to his place: "either to the resurrection of life or to the resurrection of condemnation" (St. John 5:29). This is what the Christian means by translation. We should be ready for this translation, for the day of the general resurrection and judgment, for this indescribable world event, recorded in the Holy Scripture.
This preparation for the meeting of the Heavenly King before the dread judgment seat, after death, is essentially the person's preparation throughout the whole of his life. This preparation means a change in all his thoughts, and the moral change of all his being, so that the whole man would be pure and white as snow, washing clean everything that defiles the body and spirit, so that he is adorned with every virtue: repentance, meekness, humility, gentleness, simplicity, chastity, mercy, abstention, spiritual contemplation, and burning love for God and neighbor.
Our preparation for meeting the Heavenly King, and for the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, should consist of these things. The Heavenly King desires souls adorned with immutable virtue, souls prepared so that the Very Lord Himself could abide in them. Do not marvel that the Very Lord wants to live in us. In fact the human soul is more spacious than the heavens and the earth, for it exists in the image of God. And if one removes sins from the soul, the Lord of All will settle in it and will fill it with Himself. "We will come to Him and make our dwelling with Him" (St. John 14:23), says the Lord about the souls who love Him.
And so, ye participants in the Christian feasts, and especially the present feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, ye who are brightly adorned with every virtue and translated to the heavenly Kingdom, to her Son and God, proclaim to each and every one about preparing their souls to be the dwelling place of the Lord, about continual repentance, and about the incorruptible adornment of Christian virtue. Let your death be unashamed and peaceful, serving as the pledge of a good answer at the Dread Judgment Seat of Christ.
Comforting Truths Inherent in the Feast of Dormition
Blessed is God for having granted us this great day, in which from ancient times and with triumphant hymns the Universal Church accompanies heavenward into supreme Zion the incorruptible body of the Mother of God together with her soul, and allows us to take pleasure in the spiritual fragrance of her indescribable holiness and in all the virtues with which she was endowed by the Holy Spirit and by the Son of God, Who had issued from her by taking on human nature!
With what tenderness, joy, and piety did the Holy Apostles and all the other elect enjoy the wondrous vision of the reposing Theotokos' visage, all shining with heavenly Light, and the indescribable heavenly fragrance of her God-bearing body, and the contemplation of the brightest visage of her Son and God, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who had come to take His Holy Mother's soul into His hands? O, this was celestial vision on earth, never seen before! Even the heavenly Angels were visibly present here together with their King and Master.
Only three days did the Most-Pure body of the Theotokos, buried by the Holy Apostles in Gethsemane, remain in the tomb, only three days did it stay there, and afterwards it was resurrected by the Lord and united with her soul, and she was taken up together with her body into heaven. For only three days was she fated to repose in the sleep of death, just as the Lord Himself remained in His tomb for three days and afterwards arose to confirm the universal resurrection of mankind. Death, having been vanquished by the resurrected Christ, became for the faithful a dormition (a sleep), a passage, a step towards immortality and eternal life, provided we die in faith, repentance and virtue.
Let us venerate the Most-Glorious Mother of God, higher than the heavens and purer than sunlight, who delivered mankind from its curse, i.e., from God's damnation.
But what exactly is God's curse? It is the consequence of God's righteous wrath upon criminal, sinful mankind, so ungrateful to its Creator and Benefactor, for which it has been deprived of God's mercy, eternally rejected from the face of God, condemned to the eternal torment of hell or to eternal death with the fallen angels (demons), the evil spirits. Eve, our foremother, was responsible for this damnation together with Adam through the din of disobedience--and even to this day its consequences continue to overshadow sinners who do not know God, their Savior.
But the Theotokos, through her humility, obedience, meekness, God-like purity, acceptance of the Archangel's tidings, and above all through her wondrous bearing of the Son of God in her womb, attracted God's blessing upon the world by giving birth to the Savior of the world and obtaining the benevolence of the Heavenly Father towards all the faithful. Another consequence of God's damnation of mankind was death, but Christ, the Son of God, Who was born of the Theotokos in flesh, Who suffered and died for the sins of mankind, took upon Himself our damnation, vanquished our death by His death, and removed the curse from us by crucifying our sins on the Cross and granting us incorruptibility, resurrection and immortality.
Such are comforting truths which the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos brings us: it assures us that Christ the Savior, born from the most-pure Virgin Mary, removed from us the curse of our sins and granted to all of us resurrection from the dead on the last day of the world. Is this not comforting for every Christian believer?
And having such an expectation of a general resurrection from the dead, let us try throughout our entire life to become worthy of the glorious resurrection into eternal life by means of constant repentance, battle with our passions and the temptations of the flesh and the world, and strive for success in all virtues, in order to eternally enjoy the infinity, incorruptible, surpassing all understanding, all feeling and all expectation--the blessing of the Heavenly Kingdom, together with God, the Mother of God, the Holy Angels and all the Saints. Amen. (Source: Orthodox Heritage)
[Please Note: The holy service of the Paraklesis (Supplication) to the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary will be conducted every evening either at the Chapel of Saint Nektarios or the Chapel of the Holy Dormition in the New Carlisle. All information will be posted in the church bulletins. At this service the Orthodox Baptismal names of the living Orthodox Christians will be read, seeking the intercessions of the Mother of God to bless and keep us safe and healthy. Important to Remember: The names given to me throughout the year are not kept for the entire year. You must bring the names of your loved ones anew. Make sure that you print them clearly.]
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--by Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God