My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
“Let us Honor and Magnify in song the THEOTOKOS and
the Mother of Light.” [Matins]
The THEOTOKOS Returns to her Home
The THEOTOKOS desired to behold the holy Apostles who were then scattered throughout the world preaching the Gospel. So when Our Lady knelt and offered her petition and thanksgiving to her Creator, her prayer was accompanied by a wonderful manifestation: the olive trees growing on the Mount of Olives BOWED WITH THE THEOTOKOS AS THOUGH THEY WERE ANIMATE. When Theotokos knelt, THE TREES BEND DOWN; when she arose, the trees straightened themselves out again. Thus, even trees REVERED and HONORED the Lady and Mistress of the cosmos.
The THEOTOKOS Returns Home
After completing her prayer on the Mount of Olives, the Theotokos returned to her home. Then by the invisible power of God, the Theotokos (Mother of God) shone forth with the Glory of God. Her lovely face, which always shone with the grace of God–more so than the face of Moses who spoke to God on Sinai–BECAME MORE RADIANT WITH INDESCRIBABLE GLORY. The Theotokos then prepared for her repose. She told the matter to the Beloved Disciple John, who had taken her into his home as his own mother. She also showed him THE FLOWERING BRANCH FROM PARADISE and told him to carry it before her bier. “The plant of chastity, the fragrant myrrh… O John the Apostle, who hast lain on the bosom of the Master and made the word to fall on the world like rain, thou hast guarded the Virgin as the apple of thine eye.”
Both Saints Sophronios (566-638 A.D.) and Symeon Mataphrastes (1000) say, without any hesitation, that the Saint John the Theologian and Evangelist never left the Virgin, but as a true son he served her and gave her shelter in his home till her repose. Occasionally, he visited for a very short time the surrounding areas, but he did this with her consent and blessing; and then he would return to her in Jerusalem. In his absence, the Theotokos was served by her stepson, Saint Iakovos (James), the brother of the Lord, who never left his Diocese of Jerusalem.
The Virgin then disclosed her pending repose to the rest of the household and virgins: Mary Magdalene, Sepphora, Abigail, and Jael that dwelt withe her; and they bewailed their orphanhood. But she consoled them saying that she would intercede for them and all the world. She then ordered that her bed and room should be decorated, and that incense and as many lamps as possible were to be lit therein. She then changed her clothes. Simply put, all necessary preparations for her burial were made.
The Faithful Gather
Saint John the Theologian, at once, sent for the Lord’s brother, Iakovos (James) the First Bishop of Jerusalem. Saint John also sent for all their relatives and neighbors, informing them of the imminent REPOSE OF THE MOTHER OF GOD. Saint Iakovos (St. James the Apostle), too, also informed all the Christians, both them that were in Jerusalem and in the surrounding towns and villages. Thus, a great multitude of the faithful gathered around the Theotokos.
Then, in the hearing of all, the Most Holy Theotokos told all those who had gathered of the message brought to her by the Archangel Gabriel concerning her TRANSLATION (METASTASIS) INTO THE HEAVENS. The confirmation , she then showed them the date palm branch from Paradise which, LIKE A RAY OF THE SUN, SHONE WITH THE LIGHT OF HEAVENLY GLORY. Upon uttering these words, the faithful could not restrain their tears. The whole house was then filled with weeping and lamentation. All implored the Merciful Lady, as the COMMON MOTHER OF ALL, nor to leave them as orphans. The Theotokos, however, asked them NOT TO WEEP FOR HER, BUT TO REJOICE AT HER REPOSE. She said that she would be able to pray to her Son with greater boldness after her death, for she would BE STANDING NEARER TO THE THRONE OF GOD AND GAZING FACE TO FACE UPON HER SON AND GOD AND WOULD CONVERSE WITH HIM. She promised that she would never leave them orphans after her departure, but that she would visit the whole world and attend to its needs and help those in trouble. These comforting words dried their tears and brought solace to their sorrow.
The THEOTOKOS then made a will concerning her two garments. She desired that they be given to TWO POOR WIDOWS WHO HAD FAITHFULLY SERVED HER AND RECEIVED THEIR MAINTENANCE FROM HER. With regard to her pure body, the Mother of God made her will known that it should be buried on the Mount of Olives, not far from Jerusalem, in the Garden of Gethsemane. There also were interred her parents, the Righteous Ioachim and Anna, and her spouse, Saint Joseph. The tombs lay in the Valley of Jehosaphat between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives.
The Choir of Apostles is most Wondrously
brought together from the ends of the world
While the THEOTOKOS was making these arrangements, all of a sudden a noise was heard similar to a clap of thunder. A cloud then encircled the home of Saint John the Theologian. By the command of God, Angels had seized the Apostles that were scattered to the ends of the world and brought them on clouds to Jerusalem. All, save the Apostle Thomas, were then TRANSPORTED TO MOUNT SION, BEFORE THE DOOR OF THE HOUSE WHERE THE THEOTOKOS DWELT. Some are of the opinion that Saint John the Theologian had also been caught up in a cloud like the others; NO DOUBT IT WAS FROM SOME PLACE CLOSE BY.
Therefore, on seeing one another, the holy Apostles rejoiced, but at the same time they wondered and said, “Why has the Lord gathered us together in this place?” Saint John the Theologian then went out to them and greeted them with joyful tears. He then informed them of the speedy departure of the Most Holy Mother of God. Then the holy Apostles understood that the Lord had gathered them from the various parts of the world to be present at the Blessed end of His Immaculate Mothter, and for the honorable burial of her body, as is meet. Nevertheless, her departure from among them brought intense sorrow to their hearts.
Entering the house, they beheld the Theotokos wearing a joyful countenance, sitting upon her bed. Then “Reaching thine immaculate body, the Source of Life, they (the Apostles) saluted it with mighty honor.” The holy Apostles then greeted the Mother of Life with these words: “Blessed art thou of the Lord Who made heaven and earth!” The immaculate Lady replied, “Peace to you, brethren, chosen by the Lord Himself!” Then she asked, “How did you arrive here?” The holy Apostles revealed how, by the power of the Spirit of God, each of them was caught up from the place where he had been preaching the Gospel. Then when the Theotokos learned that Peter came from Rome, Mark from Alexandria, Matthew form a boat, and the others from diverse situations, she glorified God Who had hearkened to her prayer and fulfilled the desire of her heart to behold the holy Apostles at the hour of her death.
Why should we wonder at this miraculous occurrence of their transferral? We have read of this when the Prophet Abbakoum carried food to Daniel, who was in the lion’s den in Babylon, and quickly returned to Judaea or in the case of the Apostle Philip who, after baptizing the eunuch from Ethiopia, the Spirit caught him and brought him to Azotus.
After, with great joy, she said to them all, “Stay awhile, my children, that I may bid thee farewell. For, today, I shall go to my Son, my Beloved. The Archangel Gabriel who announced the conception of my Son to me, again came and gave me this palm branch, saying, “Rejoice, O God-birthgiver, and know that after three days thou shalt be TRANSLATED (Metastasis) from earth to the heavens.” And, thus, I thank my Son and God for gathering you all here that I may behold you.” Upon hearing this, they all wept.
She then said, “Watch and pray with me, that when the Lord comes to receive my soul, He may find you watchin.” Then all promised to do so. They prayed the whole night, with psalms and chants. Then the beloved Disciple John said, “My Lady Mother of God and my Mother, thy Beloved Son had left thee as a consolation. And now shall thou leave us?” In all the world what will be humble Apostles have as our consolation? Who will teach us and who will guide us? What else shall we hae on earth to encourage us if thou shouldest leave us?” This, too, caused the Theotokos to weep, and she said, “Do not sorrow, my children, for you make me sad when I see you cry so. Although I shall be going to my Son, O friends of my Son, yet I will not be apart from you, nor from them that call upon me. Nay, I shall be AN INTERCESSOR AND MEDIATRESS FOR ALL THE CHRISTIANS BEFORE BY BELOVED SON. Therefore, do not weep, O friends and Disciples of my Son and God. Do not darkened my joy by your sorrow and mourning. Much rather, rejoice with me, for I am going away to my Son and God. My body, which I have myself prepared for burial, commit to the earth in Gethsemane. Afterward, return again to the preaching of the Gospel appointed to you. If the Lord SHOULD WILL IT, YOU SHALL SEE ME AFTER MY DEPARTURE.
The Theotokos delivers her soul, full of Light
It was the Lord’s Day, and the 15th of the month of August, when that Blessed Hour that all were awaiting drew near. It was the Third Hour of the day (nine o’clock in the morning). In the room a number of lamps were burning. The holy Apostles were offering praise to God. Upon a beautifully adorned bed, the Theotokos was lying and preparing herself for her Blessed end when her Beloved Son and Lord would come to her. She then greeted each Apostle with a blessing.
She then stretched her hands heavenward and prayed, saying, “I revere, praise, and glorify Thy much to be praised name, O Lord, because Thou hast looked upon the low estate of Thy slave. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call be Blessed. After this prayer, she said to the Apostles, “Cast incense and pray, because Christ is coming with a host of Angels. And, behold, Christ IS AT HAND, SITTING ON A THRONE OF CHERUBIM! When they had prayed, there was THUNDER FROM HEAVEN AND THERE CAME A FEARFUL VOICE, AS IF OF CHARIOTS. B EHOLD, A MULTITUDE OF A HOST OF ANGELS AND POWERS, AND A VOICE, AS IF OF THE SON OF MAN WAS HEARD!
Then there shone in the room AN INEFFABLE LIGHT OF DIVINE GLORY WHICH DIMMED THE LAMPS. THOSE THAT WERE GRANTED THIS VISION WERE STUCK AWESTRICKEN. Many beheld the roof of the apartment open and the glory of the Lord DESCENDING FROM HEAVEN. IT WAS CHRIST THE KING OF GLORY WITH HOSTS OF ANGELS AND ARCHANGELS, AND ALL THE HEAVENLY POWERS. ALSO, WITH THEM WERE THE HOLY FATHERS AND PROPHETS, THOSE WHO PROPHESIED OF OLD CONCERNING THE PURE VIRGIN. TOGETHER WITH THEM, THERE ALSO APPROACHED CHRIST’S IMMACULATE MOTHER ALL THE RIGHTEOUS SOULS.
Saint John of Damascus also mentions that some of the most famous and Righteous Prophets of the Old Testament were in attendance. The text of Pseudo-John, in describing the events, records that the Theotokos’ mother, Anna, and her cousin Elisabeth appeared with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David and all the Choirs of Saints, singing praising and venerating the body the Mother of the Lord.
“May it be to me according to Thy word!”
At the sight of the approach of her Son, the Theotokos cried with great joy unto her Son, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47). And, ,behold, A STREAM OF LIGHT CAME UPON THE VIRGIN BECAUSE OF THE PRESENCE OF HER SON, NAD ALL THE POWER OF THE HEAVENS FELL DOWN AND ADORED HIM! HE THEN SAID, “MARIAM,” AND SHE ANSWERED, “HERE I AM, LORD.” Raising herself from her bed as if she were trying to go to meet her Son, she worshipped the Lord. Looking at her with love, He said, “Arise, come my beloved, My fair one, My dove.” Arise from the dead with authority, because Thou art My Mother. Arise and come to My Kingdom, for Thou art the Queen of all. Arise to receive My Divine Glory, O My sweet Mother. Arise and come unto Me, M fair dove, for thou art escorted by My Angelic Host. Take up thy soul on thy virginal, incorrupt and divine body that thou mayest soar to the heights of heaven, and go through My spiritual hierarchies, and come unto Me, that thou mightiest sit at My Right Hand, in order to enjoy the Throne of Thy kingdom which is prepared for thee since the foundation of the world. Gird thyself with the glorious and gold-embroidered royal garment of thy virtues. Adorn thyself with the luminous glory of thy divine blessedness. Arise, come My beloved, ,My fair one, My dove, yes, come.”
Bowing, the Mother of God replied, “Blessed is Thy Name, O Lord of Glory and my God! For Thou was pleased to choose Thy humble handmaid for the service of Thy mystery. Remember me, O King of Glory, in Thine Everlasting Kingdom. Thou knowest that I have loved Thee with all my heart and have kept the treasure entrusted to me. And now receive my soul in peace and defend me from all the snares of the dark power of Satan.” The Lord then consoled His Mother with words full of love and persuaded her not to fear the power of Satan, which was already conquered by her. He called her with love to pass fearlessly from earth to heaven. And the Lord remained by her and said, “Behold, presently thy soul will be TRANSLATED TO THE HEAVENS, TO THE TREASURES OF My Father in exceeding brightness, where there is peace and joy of the holy Angels, and many other things.” Then the Mother of the Lord answered and said to Him, “Lay Thy right hand upon me, O Lord, and bless me.” Then the Lord stretched forth His Undefiled Right Hand and blessed His Mother. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
(To be continued)
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God,