My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
On the 15th of August, the Holy Orthodox Church Commemorates
The Venerable Dormition (Koimisis) and Translation (Metastasis)
of Our Most Glorious Lady the THEOTOKOS and EVER-VIRGIN
After the Ascension of Jesus Christ, the THEOTOKOS was the one consolation for His Disciples, their joy in sorrow and their firm teacher in the Faith. All the words and wondrous events which she had laid up in her heart, from the beginning, she then disclosed to them. She related to them the Archangels Gabriel’s JOYFUL TIDINGS regarding the SEEDLESS CONCEPTION AND THE INCORRUPTIBLE BIRTH OF CHRIST FROM HER VIRGIN WOMB. She strengthened her Son’s Disciples when she spoke to them about His earlier prior to the Baptism by the Forerunner John the Baptist.
She was present at the Ascension of the Lord and the day of Pentecost. The gifts of the Holy Spirit were also poured out upon the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, and in greater abundance than upon the Apostles–just as a larger vessel can contain more water. The THEOTOKOS was A VESSEL MOST RICH IN THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, FOR SHE HAD BEEN A WORTHY TEMPLE OF HIM BEFORE THIS, IN WHICH HE CONSTANTLY DWELT. The THEOTOKOS was possessed OF ALL VIRTUES IN HER BLESSED SOUL. She is HIGHER THAN APOSTLES, PROPHETS, AND ALL THE SAINTS.
The idea OF MEDIATION ON THE PART OF THE THEOTOKOS IS NOT OPEN TO DOUBT OR QUESTION FOR Saint Gregory Palamas, who is quite explicit when he says, “NO DIVINIE GIFTS CAN REACH EITHER ANGELS OR MEN, SAVE THROUGH HER MEDIATION. As one cannot enjoy the lamp…save through the medium of this lamp, so every movement toward God, every impulse toward good coming from Him is not realizable, SAVE THROUGH THE MEDIATION OF THE VIRGIN. She does not cease to spread benefits on all creatures not only on us men but ALSO ON THE CELESTIAL INCORPOREAL RANKS. Saint Gregory Palamas also says that Mary RECEIVED GIFTS OF KNOWLEDGE PRECOCIOUSLY. The MUTUAL LOVE BETWEEN HER AND JESUS WAS PERFECT.
Saint Dionysios the Areopagite said, “Upon beholding the THEOTOKOS he was filled with immeasurable spiritual joy, after which he wrote a letter to the holy Paul describing his visit: “I HAVE SEEN WITH MY OWN EYES THE MOST HOLY MOTHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHO SURPASSES IN SANCTITY ALL THE ANGELS OF HEAVEN…NO HONOR AND GLORY OF MEN CAN COMPARE WITH THE BEATITUDE THAT I EXPERIENCED, UNWORTHY THOUGH I BE. That moment in time for me was one of extreme happiness.”
The Virgin at the holy places
Newly baptized men and women journeyed from all parts of the world to visit the THEOTOKOS, and, AS A TRUE MOTHER, she received all, without distinction or partiality. She bestowed upon all the bounties of her grace, by GRANTING HEALING TO THE SICK, HEALTH TO THE WEAK, AND COMFORT TO THE SORROWING. She confirmed all in the Faith, strengthened their hope, instilled divine joy and love, and brought sinners to amendment. Thus, the Pure Mother of God lived among the first Christians for many years. She was filled with great spiritual joy at the spread of the Gospel of her Son throughout all the world. Indeed, within her own lifetime, SHE BEHELD THE FULFILLMENT OF THOSE WORDS THAT SHE HAD UTTERED AS A VERY YOUNG WOMAN: “FOR BEHOLD, FROM HENCEFORTH ALL GENERATIONS SHALL CALL ME BLESSED” (Luke 1:48). “Indeed, for wherever Christians glorified Christ as God, THEY ALSO BLESSED HIS MOST PURE MOTHER.
The Archangel cried, “REJOICE, THOU ART MAGNIFIED BY THE
MESSAGE OF THY DEPARTURE UNTO THEY SON!”
At that time she still lived in the house of Saint John the Theologian on Mount Sion. She often went from there to the Mount of Olives, to the very spot whereon took place the Ascension into the Heavens of her Son and Lord. There, in solitude, she would offer up her fervent prayers. As she was thus praying on the Mount of Olives that the Lord THAT THE LORD QUICKLY TAKE HER IN HEAVEN, THERE APPEARED BEFORE HER THE ARCHANGEL GABRIEL. It was the very Archangel who has served the Virgin from her earliest childhood. For he had fed her in the Holy of Holies, announced to her the Good News of the birth of her Divine Son, and constantly guarded her throughout her life on earth. With a radiant countenance, the Celestial Ambassador disclosed to the THEOTOKOS the following: “THUS COMMANDS THY SON: ‘THE DAYS ARE APPROACHING WHEN I WILL TAKE MY MOTHER UNTO ME.’ Thus, my Mistress and my Lady, QUEEN OF HEAVEN, AND THE CREATOR’S MOST IMMACULATE MOTHER, THINE ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON AND GOD SENT ME TO TELL THEE THAT HE CALLS THEE UNTO HIMSELF, TO HIS KINGDOM, TO HIS INEFFABLE GLORY, THAT THOU MIGHTEST SIT AT THE RIGHT HAND OF HIS THRONE. HE AWAITS THEE. Therefore, do not be troubled over these words, but receive them with delight, for thou shalt be TRANSLATED (METASTASIS) TO LIFE ETERNAL.”
Thus the Virgin heard those much longed-for words which she received with gladness. The Archangel then said, “Thy Son and our God, with the Angels, Archangels, Cherubim, Seraphim, and all the Heavenly Hosts, and the souls of the Righteous, will receive thee, His Mother, INTO THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM THAT THOU MAYEST LIVE AND REIGN WITH HIM FOREVER.” Holy Tradition has it that this occurred ON A FRIDAY. Thus AFTER THREE DAYS, ON A SUNDAY, SHE WOULD DEPART AND BE WITH CHRIST. The Archangel then told the Virgin THE HOUR OF HER DEATH. Again, as in her youth, he said that SHE SHOULD RECEIVE HIS WORDS WITH JOY, SINCE SHE WAS BEING CALLED TO IMMORTAL LIFE AND TO THE ETERNAL KING OF GLORY.
As a sign of the truth of all his words, the Archangel GAVE INTO HER HAND A DATE PALM BRANCH FROM PARADISE. It shined with the Light of Heavenly Grace. It signified VICTORY and that BODILY DEATH WOULD NOT HAVE POWER OVER HER, JUST AS SPIRITUAL DEATH HAD NOT HAD DOMINION OVER HER. SHE WOULD MERELY FALL ASLEEP FOR A SHORT TIME AND, THEN, AS IF WAKING FROM SLEEP, WOULD RISE AND SHAKE OFF DEATH LIKE SLEEP FROM THE EYES. SHE WOULD THEN SEE IN THE LIGHT OF THE LORD’S COUNTENANCE THE IMMORTAL LIFE AND GLORY TO WHICH SHE WOULD GO WITH SHOUTS OF JOY AND SPIRITUAL HAPPINESS. The Archangel informed her that the branch was to be carried before the bier of her Most Honorable and Pure body. Upon hearing these words, the THEOTOKOS was filled with ineffable joy and spiritual rapture. For what could be more joyous and acceptable to her than LIFE IN HEAVEN WITH HER Son and the happiness of contemplating His face? Then, falling to her knees she fervently thanked her Creator. That the Virgin should receive in advance A PLEDGE OR ASSURANCE FROM PARADISE WILL NOT BE AN UNHEARD OF OCCURRENCE IN THE HISTORY OF THE Orthodox Church. Others, too, have received gifts from Paradise, such as Saint Methodios, Patriarch of Constantinople, Saint Irene Chrysovolantou, and Saint Ephrosynos the Cook. (Source: The Orthodox 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