by Fr. Mathai Varkey Puthukkunnathu
"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." Gen: 3:15
The Holy Syrian Orthodox Church observes the sacred Fast of the Assumption of Saint Mary (Theotokos-Yoldas(th) Aaloho-God Bearer) from the 10th of August for 5 days and concludes with the celebration of the Assumption Feast on the 15th. Saint Mary is the Blessed Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was chosen by the Almighty, according to the divine commandment made at the Garden of Eden. Redemption from the aberration of sin is made possible by the blood of the unblemished Lamb. Saint Mary gave birth to that unblemished Son of God, the Virgin Eve Lamb, who crushed the head of the arch enemy, Satan. This made her to be the Theotokos, God Bearer, and the Second Eve. The first Eve brought disobedience and caused sin to overpower the creation, where as Saint Mary’s absolute submission to the Will of God brought forth eternal salvation to the world. “I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her”. Luke 1:38. This unique obedience and unparallel forbearance to uphold the Divine Will has brought about the Redemption of the sinful humanity. It is worth mentioning here that the Holy Syrian Orthodox Church does not believe in the immaculate birth of Saint Mary. All humans are born with the original sin and one of the divine mercies that we receive through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is the grace that wipes away the blemishes/stain of the original sin. That is the reason why the Feast of the Assumption has been given more importance by the Holy Church than to the feast of the birth of Saint Mary.
Beyond all heretical teachings and deviations, the prominence of Saint Mary is made clear in the words of Cyril of Alexandria, "I have been amazed that some are utterly in doubt as to whether or not the Holy Virgin is able to be called the Mother of God. For if our Lord Jesus Christ is God, how should the Holy Virgin who bore him not be the Mother of God?" (Epistle to the Monks of Egypt 1 [A.D. 423-431]) and the visionary declaration of Gregory of Nazianz, "If anyone does not agree that Holy Mary is Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead. If anyone asserts that Christ passed through the Virgin as through a channel and was not shaped in her both divinely and humanly, divinely because without man and humanly because in accord with the law of gestation, he is likewise godless" (Epistle to Cledonius the Priest 101 [A.D. 382]). It is Saint Mary, not anyone else, who agreed to become the human channel through which Christ would enter the world in order to crush the serpent’s head. She herself was wounded when the serpent struck Jesus. Simeon had prophesied to her that "a sword will pierce through your own soul also," a prophecy fulfilled when Mary saw her Son hanging from the cross (John 19:25–27).
Saint Mary proclaims this Divine commission in her own words, as we read in the book of Luke. “-- for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed”. Luke 1:48. This verse from the Magnificat is very much relevant at present as at all times. The life of Saint Mary, the Mother of God was a mission to believe in the Divine Will and in Christ. In this sense Saint Mary is the first human being who accepted Christ as the Savior of the World. She believed in Him without any doubt and it is crystal clear at the wedding in Cana. “His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." John 2:5. She intercedes for the needy and those who experience pain and suffering. The words of Saint Mary, the Crown of all Saints, have very deep meaning here at this instance. She persuades the whole world to listen to the Son of God who is omnipotent. This pleading continues even at present times. Jesus grants Saint Mary’s wish by performing the miracle at Cana that turned the tasteless, colorless water into the tasteful and colorful wine. Saint Mary’s powerful intercession continues throughout the ages. If one hears and heeds to “Do whatever he tells you.” the result would be matchless and inexplicable. As we come across the Mariology, i.e. the study of the doctrines and beliefs concerning Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, it becomes unambiguously clear that the intercession of Saint Mary is highly theologically accurate.
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Soonoyo Lent by Very Rev. Kuriakose Corepiscopa Moolayil
The Syrian Orthodox Church observes the Soonoyo lent in connection with the translation of St. Mary. The church observes different days and hours in honour of St. Mary, the blessed. Soonoyo lent is the mandatory one in connection with her death and translation to paradise, remembered on August 15.
Shunoyo Lent by H.E Mor Themotheos Thomas Metropolitan
Shunoyo lent is very old and is in memory of St. Mary. It is interesting to see that in all the ancient Churches, this lent is observed. Apart from our Church, the Roman Catholic, the Byzantine Churches and several others observe this lent. That points to the fact that this has a common origin, going back to the times when all Churches were one.
The Dormition Fast: Ending another year of grace in Our Lord
The Byzantine Church since at least the 5th century has practiced a period of fasting prior to the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Christians of the East have always recognized the mystery of Our Lady’s Dormition, her ‘falling asleep’ at the end of her natural life when in a miraculous way she was assumed into heaven to sit with her Lord and our Lord.
Shunoyo (Dormition of the Theotokos) by Tenny Thomas
The Theotokos had now reached an advanced age. Her fervent and unceasing desire was to leave the body and be with her beloved Son and God. The Mother of God did not fear death, nor did she seek to avoid it. She knew that death had already been overcome by her Son and God.
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