Orthodox Church Of The Blessed Virgin Mary
Dormition of the Theotokos

 

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The feast of the Dormition or Falling-asleep of the Theotokos is celebrated on the twenty-eighth of August according to the Eastern Orthodox old calendar.

The Dormition fast begins on August 14 and ends on August the 28th (two-weeks). This feast, which is also sometimes called the Assumption, commemorates the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ's mother.

It proclaims that Mary has been "assumed" by God into the heavenly kingdom of Christ in the fullness of her spiritual and bodily existence.

The Holy Scriptures tell us that when our Lord was dying on the Cross, He saw His mother and His disciple John and said to the Virgin Mary, "Woman, behold your son!" and to John, "Behold your mother!" (John 19:25-27) From that hour, the Apostle took care of the Theotokos in his own home.

Along with the biblical reference in Acts 2:14 that confirms that the Virgin Mary was with the Holy Apostles on the day of Pentecost, the tradition of the Church holds that she remained in the home of the Apostle John in Jerusalem, continuing a ministry in word and deed.

At the time of her death, the disciples of our Lord who were preaching throughout the world returned to Jerusalem to see the Theotokos. Except for the Apostle Thomas, all of them including the Apostle Paul were gathered together at her bedside. At the moment of her death, Jesus Christ himself descended and carried her soul into heaven.

Following her repose, the body of the Theotokos was taken in procession and laid in a tomb near the Garden of Gethsemane. When the Apostle Thomas arrived three days after her repose and desired to see her body, the tomb was found to be empty.

The bodily assumption of the Theotokos was confirmed by the message of an angel and by her appearance to the Apostles

This great Feast of the Church and the icon celebrates a fundamental teaching of our faith—the Resurrection of the body. In the case of the Theotokos, this has been accomplished by the divine will of God.

Thus, this Feast is a feast of hope, hope in Resurrection and life eternal. Like those who gathered around the body of the Virgin Mary, we gather around our departed loved ones and commend their souls into the hands of Christ.

As we remember those who have reposed in the faith before us and have passed on into the communion of the Saints, we prepare ourselves to one day be received into the new life of the age to come. We also affirm through this Feast as we journey toward our heavenly abode that the Mother of God intercedes for us.

Through Christ she has become the mother of all of the children of God, embracing us with divine love.

The Tradition of the Church is that Mary died as all people die, not "voluntarily" as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature that is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world.

Finally it must be stressed that, in all of the feasts of the Virgin Mother of God in the Church, the Orthodox Christians celebrate facts of their own lives in Christ and the Holy Spirit.

What happens to Mary happens to all who imitate her holy life of humility, obedience, and love. With her all people will be "blessed" to be "more honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim" if they follow her example. All will have Christ born in them by the Holy Spirit.

All will become temples of the living God. All will share in the eternal life of His Kingdom who lives the life that Mary lived.

Important

Does the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, participate in the “ancestral sin?”. It is obvious that Mary, being part of the common human race issued of the first man (Adam), automatically participates in the fallen status and in the spiritual death introduced by the sin of the first man.

The Church proclaims as well that Mary truly needed to be saved by Christ as all human persons are saved from the trials, sufferings and death of this world; and that having truly died, she was raised up by her Son as the Mother of Life and participates already in the eternal life of paradise which is prepared and promised to all who "hear the word of God and keep it." (Luke 11:27-28) 

The Fathers of the Church concluded that Mary was purified (free of sin) by the Holy Spirit the day of Annunciation in order for her to become the “worthy Mother of God”.  “And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God”(Luke 1:35).

However, even after she gave birth to the Son of God, Mary was not exempted of less serious (“Venial”) sins. St. John Chrysostom attributes to Mary the sin of vanity, in the context of the first miracle of Christ in Cana of Galilee.

It is unfortunate that the Roman Catholic Church promulgated the doctrine of the so-called “Immaculate Conception” (perfect from the beginning) in 1854, which contradicts the Orthodox traditional doctrine the Image of the Church.