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Dormition of the Theotokos

“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.”

– Saint John of Kronstadt

August 15

Holy Scripture Accounts

Old Testament Readings
(from Vigil the night before feast)

Genesis 28:10-17

Ezekiel 43:27-44

Proverbs 9:1-11

The Epistle (from feast day Liturgy)

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

– Philippians 2:5-11

The Gospel (from Matins)

 “Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.”

“And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

– Luke 1:39-49, 56

The Gospel (from feast day Liturgy)

“Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”

– Luke 10:38-42

And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

– Luke 11:27-28

Troparion (Tone 1)

“In giving birth you preserved your virginity,
In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos.
You were translated to life, O Mother of Life,
And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.”

( audio )

Kontakion (Tone 2)

“Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.”

Teaching from the Dormition Icon

Jesus the Messiah, is at the heart of this icon, much as the Resurrection is at the heart of the Christian year and the Christian life. Union with Him, the Conqueror of Death, is the goal of our earthly struggle.”

The mandorla of Christ, shows His glorious divinity. It is so large that the red curtain that normally indicates a scene is taking place indoors is absent; there is no more “ceiling” between us and heaven. Christ has broken down all barriers; death can no longer dissolve the bond of love between those on earth and those in the afterlife.”

The Theotokos’, pure body lies in peace before her Son while her spotless soul rests in His hands. The way in which Christ is holding her soul, wrapped in swaddling clothes, reminds us of the icons in which Mary is holding her Child. Christ is now accepting Mary on behalf of heaven in the same way she accepted Him on behalf of earth.”

The Angels, transporting the apostles from the ends of the earth to be with Mary, show us that heaven and earth are truly meeting. The Theotokos is also shown among the angels up at the top of the icon, since she now resides in the heavenly realm in both soul and body.”

Peter, Paul, and the other Apostles have assembled to honor Mary, the “gate” through which salvation has come into the world. Since her Son has destroyed the barrier caused by death, the apostles and all believers can continue asking for her prayers and intercession.”

Bishops and the Women of Jerusalem show that all, male and female, Jew and Gentile, gather around the Mother of our Hope and Life. The gates of heaven that have opened up for Mary are also open for all of humanity. The bishops represented in icons of the Dormition include some combination of the following: James-the brother of our Lord and the first bishop of Jerusalem, Timothy-who was converted to Christ through Saint Paul, and Hierotheus and Dionysios – former pagans who became bishops of Athens.”

Quoted from: Heaven meets Earth: Celebrating Pascha and the Twelve Feasts (page 58), by John Kosmas Skinas

More information

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