THE DORMITION [THE FALLING ASLEEP - THE ASSUMPTION] OF THEMOST-HOLY BIRTH-GIVER OF GOD (THEOTOKOS)

УСПЕНИЕ НА ПРЕСВЕТА БОГОРОДИЦА

Fresco at St. George MOC-OA – Syracuse, NY

The Lord Who, on Mt. Sinai, gave the Fifth Commandment, Honor your father and your mother (Exodus 20:12), showed by His own example how one should respect one's parents. Hanging on the Cross in agony, He remembered His Mother, and indicating to the Apostle John, He said to her: Woman behold your son (John 19:26). After that, He said to John: Behold your mother (John 19:27). And so, providing for His Mother, He breathed His last. John had a home on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, in which the Theotokos then lived. She dwelt there to the end of her days on earth. By her prayers, kind guidance, meekness and patience, she greatly assisted Her Son's apostles. She spent most of her remaining time on earth in Jerusalem, often visiting those places that reminded her of the great events and of the great works of her Son. She especially visited Golgotha, Bethlehem and the Mount of Olives. Of her few distant journeys, her visit to St. Ignatius the God-bearer [Theophorus] in Antioch is recorded; as is her visit to Lazarus (whom our Lord resurrected on the fourth day), the Bishop of Cyprus. She also visited the Holy Mountain [Athos], which she blessed; and she stayed in Ephesus with St. John the Evangelist [The Theologian] during the time of the great persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. In her old age, she often prayed to her Lord and God on the Mount of Olives, the site of His Ascension, that He take her from this world as soon as possible. On one of these occasions, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to her and revealed to her that she would find repose within three days. The angel gave her a palm-branch, which was to be carried in her funeral procession. She returned home with great joy, hoping in her heart to see her Son's apostles just once more in this life. The Lord fulfilled her wish, and the apostles, borne by angels in the clouds, gathered together at the house on Mount Zion. With great rejoicing she saw them, encouraged them, counseled them, and comforted them. Then she peacefully gave up her soul to God without pain or physical illness. The apostles took up her coffin, from which a heavenly fragrance arose--and, in the company of many Christians, bore it to the Garden of Gethsemane, to the sepulchre of her parents, Saints Joachim and Anna. By God's providence, the procession was concealed by a cloud from the evil Jews. Even so, Aphthonius [Anthony], a Jewish priest, grabbed the coffin with the intention of overturning it, but an angel of God severed both his hands. He then cried out to the apostles for help, and was healed upon declaring his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Thomas was absent--again, according to God's providence--in order that a new and all-glorious mystery of the Holy Theotokos would be revealed. On the third day, Thomas arrived and desired to venerate [kiss] the body of the Holy Most-pure One. But when the apostles opened the sepulchre, they found only the winding sheet: the body was not in the tomb! That evening, the Theotokos, surrounded by a host of angels, appeared to the apostles and said to them: "Rejoice, I will be with you always." It is not exactly known how old the Theotokos was at the time of her Falling Asleep, but the overwhelming opinion is that she was over sixty years of age.

Sourse: The Prolog of Ohrid

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Успение на Пресвета Богородица

Господ, Којшто на Синај заповеда со петтата заповед: „Почитувај го таткото свој и мајката своја“, со Својот пример покажа како треба да се почитува својата родителка. Кога висеше на крстот во маки, се сети на Неговата мајка и покажувајќи на апостолот Јован, рече: „Жено, ете ти син!“ Потоа му рече на Јован: „Ете ти мајка!“ И така ја згрижи Својата Мајка и издивна. Јован имаше дом на Сион во Ерусалим, во којшто се насели и Богородица и остана да живее во него до крајот на Нејзините денови на земјата. Со своите молитви, со благите совети, кротоста и трпеливоста, Таа многу им помагаше на апостолите на Нејзиниот Син. Целото време до смртта главно го помина во Ерусалим, обиколувајќи ги често оние места што ја потсетуваа на големите настани и големите дела на Нејзиниот Син. Особено често одеше на Голгота, во Витлеем и на Елеонската Гора. Од Нејзините подолги патувања се спомнува Нејзината посета на Св. Игнатиј Богоносец во Антиохија, посетата на Светиот четиридневен Лазар, епископ Кипарски, посетата на Света Гора, којашто самата ја благослови, и престојот во Ефес со Свети Јован, за време на големото гонење на христијаните во Ерусалим. На старост Таа често Му се молеше на Бога на Елеонската Гора, на местото на Неговото Вознесение, што порано да Ја земе од овој свет. Еднаш ѝ се јави архангелот Гавриил и ѝ објави дека по три дена ќе биде упокоена. Тогаш ѝ даде една палмова гранка за да ја носат при Нејзиниот погреб. Таа се врати дома со голема радост и посака во срцето уште еднаш да ги види сите Христови апостоли. Господ ѝ ја исполни оваа желба и сите апостоли, носени на облаци од ангелите, одеднаш се собраа во домот на Јован на Сион. Со голема радост Таа ги виде Светите апостоли, ги охрабри, ги посоветува и ги утеши, и по ова мирно го предаде Својот дух на Бога, без никаква мака и телесна болест. Апостолите го зедоа одарот со Нејзиното тело, од коешто излегуваше благоухание и во придружба на мноштво христијани го пренесоа во Гетсиманската градина, во гробницата на Светите Јоаким и Ана. По Божја Промисла поворката од злобните Евреи ја засолнуваше облак. Некој еврејски свештеник Атониј, го дофати со рацете одарот со намера да го преврти, но во тој миг ангел Божји му ги отсече обете раце. Тогаш тој повика кон апостолите за помош, а откако објави дека поверува во Господ Исус Христос, беше исцелен. Апостолот Тома повторно по Божја Промисла изостана, за така да се открие една нова и преславна тајна за Пресвета Богородица. Третиот ден пристигна и тој, и посака да го целива телото на Пречистата Владичица. Но кога апостолите го отворија гробот, ја најдоа само плаштаницата, а телото не беше внатре. Таа вечер им се јави на апостолите самата Пресвета Богородица опкружена со мноштво ангели и им рече: „Радувајте се, ќе бидам со вас навек“. На која возраст се упокои Богородица не се знае точно, но преовладува мислењето дека на крајот од овоземниот живот имала повеќе од шеесет години. Извор: Охридски пролог

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Saint John of Kronstadt

Sermon on the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos

“Magnify O my soul, the honourable Translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven.” (Refrain for the 9th Ode of the Canon)

Let us 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 out of all the 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 in Russia nowadays we have heretics (among us) who actively dishonor the Mother of God, the saints, their icons, their relics and their festivals. O, if only they also unanimously with us glorified the worthy Queen of heaven and earth!

Today the Holy Church glorifies the honorable Dormition or translation 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 of angels. And then, her most pure body is transferred by the apostles to Gethsemane where it is honorably buried, and on the third day it is resurrected and taken up to heaven. You see this on the 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 apostles and hierarchs, and in the center of the 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 a translation, i.e. a rearrangement of his condition, i.e. his soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grave, 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 (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 Scriptures.

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, mercifulness, 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” (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 also be unashamed and peaceful, serving as the pledge of a good answer at the dread judgment seat of Christ. Amen.