The Dormition Of The Theotokos And Ever-Virgin Mary

Written By: on Jun 23rd, 2009 and filed under Articles, We Believe.

While the Theotokos was making these arrangments, all of a sudden a noise was heard, similar to a clap of thunder. A cloud then encircled the home of John. By the command of God, angels had siezed the Apostles that were scattered to the ends of the world and brought them on clouds to Jerusalem. All, except the Apostle Thomas, were then placed on Sion before the door of the house where the Theotokos dwelt. Therefore, on seeing one another, the holy Apostles rejoiced, but at the same time they wondered, saying, “Why has the Lord gathered us together in this place?” John informed them of the speedy departure of the Mother of God.

It was the Lord’s day, and the fifteenth day of the month of August, when that blessed hour that all were awaiting drew near. It was the third hour of the day (9:00 a.m.). In the rooms the lamps were burning. The holy Apostles were offering praise to God. When they had prayed, there was a thunder from heaven and there came a fearful voice as if of chariots; and behold, a multitude of a host of angels and powers, and a voice, as if of the Son of Man was heard. Raising herself from bed as if she were trying to go and meet her Son, she worshipped the Lord. The she said, “Ready is my heart, O God, ready is my heart”. The she repeated the words once said by her, “Be it unto me according to Thy word” [Lk 1:38], and then lay down on the bed. With these words, the Theotokos, surrendered her soul into the hands of the Lord. At once there began wonderful and joyous angelic singing repeating the fomer words of gabriel: Rejoice, thou who are full of grace, the Lord is with thee: Blessed are thou among women” [Lk 1:28].

Then a solemn procession conveyed the body of the Theotokos from Sion through Jerusalem to Gethsemane. The tomb in the Garden of Gethsemane was east of Jerusalem, across the Kidron Valley. Finally, the holy Apostles with all the multitude of Christians reached the Garden. When they laid down the bier with the body, the Christians began to weep. In giving the last kiss, the Christians fell down before the body of the Theotokos. Kissing it, thy shed copious tears, so that only towards evening could the body be placed in the new tomb. Her relics were laid with the greatest honour, while chanting and weeping took place. When the Apostles stepped before her bier to bid her farewell, each according to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they uttered pslams of triumph and thanksgiving and chanted prayers.

Many believe that at the end of her life Mary was assumed bodily ‘into heaven’. This claim, magisterially entitled ‘The Doctrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary’, is a Latin concept. The Orthodox marked this feast as the koimesis (dormition) of the Theotokos. Finally, we Orthodox do not “worship” the Virgin Mary. We “venerate” her and show her great honor. Nor have we ever, like the Latins, developed the idea that the Theotokos was born without sin (the Roman Catholic dogma of the Immaculate Conception) or that she is a co-redemptor with Christ. The consensus of the Church Fathers rejects such ideas, and the Orthodox Church adheres to that consensus. However, we do believe that the Virgin Mary is an image of the Christian goal of becoming Christ-like, of theosis. Just as the Theotokos gave birth to Christ in a bodily way, so we must bear Christ in a spiritual way. In so doing, we imitate her practical spiritual life, including the purity and humility by which she formed her free will into perfect obedience to the Will of God.

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