Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Shunoyo (Assumption/Dormition of St. Mary)
Volume 7 No. 430 August 13, 2017
 
IV. Articles on Shunoyo Feast

Dormition versus Assumption
[Editor's Note:
This article is reprinted from MWJ Issue 362 because of its relevance.]

The Dormition of the Theotokos is celebrated on August 15, the same calendar day as the Roman Catholic Feast of the Assumption of Mary. The Dormition and the Assumption are different names for the same event, Mary's departure from the earth, although the beliefs are not necessarily identical.

The Orthodox Church specifically holds one of two Roman Catholic alternative beliefs, teaching that Mary died a natural death, like any human being; that her soul was received by Christ upon death; and that her body was resurrected on the third day after her repose, at which time she was taken up, bodily only, into heaven when the apostles, miraculously transported from the ends of the earth, found her tomb to be empty.

While some Roman Catholics agree with the Orthodox that this happened after Mary's death, others hold that she did not experience death and she was "assumed" into heaven in bodily form, just as her son Jesus ascended. However, Pope Pius XII alludes to the fact of her death at least five times, but left open the question of whether or not Mary actually underwent death in connection with her departure, in his Apostolic constitution, Munificentissimus Deus (1950), which dogmatically defined ex cathedra (i.e., infallibly) the Assumption.

On 25 June 1997, during a General Audience, Pope John Paul II affirmed that Mary did indeed experience natural death prior to her assumption into Heaven, stating:

It is true that in Revelation death is presented as a punishment for sin. However, the fact that the Church proclaims Mary free from original sin by a unique divine privilege does not lead to the conclusion that she also received physical immortality. The Mother is not superior to the Son who underwent death, giving it a new meaning and changing it into a means of salvation. Involved in Christ's redemptive work and associated in his saving sacrifice, Mary was able to share in his suffering and death for the sake of humanity's Redemption.

What Severus of Antioch says about Christ also applies to her: "Without a preliminary death, how could the Resurrection have taken place?" (Antijulianistica, Beirut 1931, 194f.). To share in Christ's Resurrection, Mary had first to share in his death. The New Testament provides no information on the circumstances of Mary's death. This silence leads one to suppose that it happened naturally, with no detail particularly worthy of mention. If this were not the case, how could the information about it have remained hidden from her contemporaries and not have been passed down to us in some way?

As to the cause of Mary's death, the opinions that wish to exclude her from death by natural causes seem groundless. It is more important to look for the Blessed Virgin's spiritual attitude at the moment of her departure from this world. In this regard, St Francis de Sales maintains that Mary's death was due to a transport of love. He speaks of a dying "in love, from love and through love", going so far as to say that the Mother of God died of love for her Son Jesus (Treatise on the Love of God, bk. 7, ch. XIII-XIV).

Whatever from the physical point of view was the organic, biological cause of the end of her bodily life, it can be said that for Mary the passage from this life to the next was the full development of grace in glory, so that no death can ever be so fittingly described as a "dormition" as hers."

Both views agree that she was taken up into heaven bodily. The specific belief of the Orthodox is expressed in their liturgical texts used of the feast of the Dormition.

The Eastern Catholic observance of the feast corresponds to that of their Orthodox counterparts, whether Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox.

The Dormition is known as the Death of the Virgin in Catholic art, where it is a reasonably common subject, mostly drawing on Byzantine models, until the end of the Middle Ages. The Death of the Virgin by Caravaggio, of 1606, is probably the last famous Western painting of the subject.

Source: wikipedia

On The Theotokos & Ever Virgin Mary

by Archbishop Dmitri (Royster)

Because of recent discussions about the Catholic Church's considering defining a new dogma concerning the Virgin Mary it might be of interest to Christians of other Churches to have some explanation of the Orthodox Church's position concerning her.

The Orthodox Church honors and venerates the Virgin Mary as

"more honourable than the Cherubim and more glorious without compare than the Seraphim…"

Her name is mentioned in every service, and her intercession before the throne of God is asked. She is given the title of "Theotokos" (Greek for "Birth-giver-of-God), as well as "Mother of God". She has a definite role in Orthodox Christianity, and can in no way be considered an instrument which, once used, was laid aside and forgotten.

Objections to the veneration of the Theotokos are based primarily on what is called

"a lack of scriptural evidence to support such a practice."

While it is true that the Church depends heavily on her Tradition other than Holy Scripture (Ecumenical Councils, liturgical books, and the writings of the Fathers) for details and the precise definition of the nature of the veneration of the Virgin Mary, there are several passages of the New Testament that really form the basis for our practice.

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to announce to the Virgin the birth of the Saviour:

"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women." (Luke 1:28)

This angelic salutation forms a part of the hymn of the Church most frequently sung in her honor. Could we be wrong in repeating the words of the very messenger of God? Elizabeth, the Virgin's cousin, considered it an honor for the Mother of her Lord to visit her.

"And whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1:43)

Is there any real difference between saying "Mother of God" and "Mother of the Lord"? Surely, God is the Lord! (Psalm 118:27) In the course of her visit to Elizabeth, the Blessed Virgin spoke the words that form the principal hymn sung in her honor at the Matins service.

"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden, for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed."
(Luke 1: 47-48)

Elizabeth had already been "filled with the Holy Spirit", precisely that she might cry out:

"Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb."
(Luke 1:41, 42)

This honor given the Theotokos by her cousin is exactly what all generations of the Church do when they call her blessed. Finally, when Jesus saw His mother and the disciple John standing by the cross, He entrusted him with her care, but He also established a new spiritual relationship between them in saying to the disciple:

"Behold thy Mother!" (John 19:27)

What possible significance could this declaration of our Lord have except to make His Mother the Mother of all Christians? If she really had other children would she be in need of an outsider's home?

The Incarnation of God was foretold in the Old Testament. A race was chosen for a specific purpose: to produce a holy humanity from which God could take flesh. Mary is the one who, in the Lord's words,

"heard the word of God and kept it." (Luke 11:28)

Through her personal sinlessness she fulfilled all the hopes and prophecies of Israel. She figured greatly in the very prophecies, the most important of which is that of Isaiah:

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

The Church has always considered the following as prefigures or symbols of the role of the Theotokos in the Divine plan, and appoints them to be read on the eves of three of the feasts dedicated to her memory. The first is the story of Jacob's ladder, which refers to her being the means by which God chose to enter into the world physically.

"He saw in his sleep a ladder standing upon the earth, and the top thereof touching heaven, the angels also of God ascending and descending by it".
 (Genesis 28:12)

Then from the Prophecy of Ezekiel are the words concerning her perpetual virginity:

"And the Lord said unto me: This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it; because the Lord God of Israel hath entered in by it, and it shall be shut."
(Ezekiel 44:2)

The same is true of the burning bush seen by Moses: Mary contained in her womb the God-man, Jesus Christ, the God who is a consuming fire, and was not consumed.

The consequences of denying the Theotokos a part in the life of Christians are more serious than one may think in view of all its implications. Orthodox theology insists upon the two perfect natures of our Lord Jesus Christ; He was perfect God and perfect Man. The Virgin Mary communicated the humanity of the Incarnate God. The redemption of the human race was possible through the union of God and man in Christ. De-emphasis of the sinlessness of Christ's Mother, insistence upon her having other children by Joseph (which cannot be demonstrated by the New Testament), and failure to remember her part in the history of the salvation of mankind have contributed to a general misunderstanding in some churches of the Incarnation in all its fullness and power.

Very closely related to the above-mentioned things is the denial of the virgin birth of Christ, a rather popular feature of present-day liberal theology. After the virgin birth, the next basic teaching under attack is the divinity of Christ, and His resurrection, and with that, the Holy Trinity Itself.

The Virgin Mary in the Orthodox view is not regarded as a mediatrix or co-redemptress. She is an intercessor for us, and the content of prayer addressed to her is a request for her intercession. The Orthodox concept of the Church is the basic reason for the invocation of the Theotokos and all the saints. The Militant Church on earth and the Victorious Church in heaven are intimately bound together in love.

If it is proper for one sinner to ask another sinner to pray for him, how much more fitting it must be to ask the saints already glorified and near the throne of God to pray for us. Surely, they know something of what goes on here, for else how could there be rejoicing in heaven over the conversion of one sinner? (Luke 15:10) The saints in heaven are equals of the angels (Luke 20:36), who are used by God in the accomplishment of His purpose (Acts 12:7)

There is scriptural evidence to support the traditional Orthodox attitude toward the Virgin Mary and the saints. The other equally valid parts of Tradition also afford abundant evidence of its soundness and importance.

With love in Christ,

+DMITRI

© 2011, Preachers Institute. All rights reserved.

On The Dormition Feast & Fast

by Fr. John A. Peck

Dormition is one of the Great Feasts of the Christian faith. We offer an article on Dormition and a few things which we hope you will find valuable as you prepare this festal sermon.

1. Preach the Gospel

The only reason we are celebrating Dormition at all is because of the incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the feast of the Dormition is, indeed, a feast of resurrection!

This is a resurrectional feast!

2. About the Feast Itself

The word 'Dormition' simply means 'falling asleep' – the biblical idiom for a believer's death.

The Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on August 15. This feast is called the Assumption in the western churches, and commemorates the death, resurrection and glorification of the Virgin Mary, 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 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 which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world.

The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary is without personal sins. In the Gospel of the feast, however, in the liturgical services and in the Dormition icon, 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 services of the feast repeat the main theme, that the Mother of Life has

"passed over into the heavenly joy, into the divine gladness and unending delight" of the Kingdom of her Son. (Vesper verse)

The Old Testament readings, as well as the gospel readings for the Vigil and the Divine Liturgy, are exactly the same as those for the feast of the Virgin's nativity and her entrance into the Temple. Thus, at the Vigil we again hear Mary say:

"My soul magnifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour."
(Luke 1:47)

At the Divine Liturgy we hear the letter to the Philippians where St. Paul speaks of the self-emptying of Christ who condescends to human servitude and ignoble death in order to be

"highly exalted" by God his Father.
(Philippians 2:5-11)

And once again we hear in the Gospel that Mary's blessedness belongs to all who

"hear the word of God and keep it."
(Luke 11:27-28)

Thus, the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is the celebration of the fact that all men are "highly exalted" in the blessedness of the victorious Christ, and that this high exaltation has already been accomplished in Mary the Theotokos. The feast of the Dormition is the sign, the guarantee, and the celebration that Mary's fate is, the destiny of all those of "low estate" whose souls magnify the Lord, whose spirits rejoice in God the Saviour, whose lives are totally dedicated to hearing and keeping the Word of God which is given to men in Mary's child, the Saviour and Redeemer of the 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 live the life that Mary lived.

In this sense everything that is praised and glorified in Mary is a sign of what is offered to all persons in the life of the Church. It is for this reason that Mary, with the divine child Jesus within her, is call in the Orthodox Tradition the Image of the Church. For the assembly of the saved is those in whom Christ dwells.

3. About The Dormition Fast

For the first fourteen days of August during each year, the Holy Orthodox Church enters into a strict fast period in honor of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary.

Every Orthodox Christian is aware and generally knows the reason behind the fasts for Pascha and Christmas. But while they may know of the Dormition Fast, few follow it, and more than a few question why it is there, neither knowing its purpose.

First, given the pervasive misunderstanding of the purpose of fasting itself, a refresher on its purpose is always a good idea. There is a perception that we should fast when we want something, as though the act of fasting somehow appeases God, and seeing us "suffer" gets Him to grant our request. Nothing can be further from the truth. It is not our fasting that pleases God, it is the fruits of our fast (provided we fast in the proper mind set, and do not merely diet) that please Him.

We fast, not to get what we want, but to prepare ourselves to receive what God wants to give us. The purpose of fasting is to bring us more in line with another Mary, the sister of Lazarus, and away from their sister Martha, who in the famous passage was

"anxious and troubled about many things."

Fasting is intended to bring us to the realization of

"the one thing needful."

It is to help us put God first and our own desires second, if not last. As such it serves to prepare us to be instruments of God's will, as with Moses in his flight from Egypt and on Mt. Sinai, as well as our Lord's fast in the wilderness. Fasting turns us away from ourselves and toward God. In essence it helps us become like the Theotokos, an obedient servant of God, who heard His word and kept it better than anyone else has or could.

So why do we fast before Dormition?

In a close-knit family, word that its matriarch is on her deathbed brings normal life to a halt. Otherwise important things (parties, TV, luxuries, personal desires) become unimportant; life comes to revolve around the dying matriarch. It is the same with the Orthodox family; word that our matriarch is on her deathbed, could not (or at least should not) have any different effect than the one just mentioned.

The Church, through the Paraklesis Service, gives us the opportunity to come to that deathbed and eulogize and entreat the woman who bore God, the vessel of our salvation and our chief advocate at His divine throne. And as, in the earthly family, daily routines and the indulgence in personal wants should come to a halt. Fasting, in its full sense (abstaining from food and desires) accomplishes this. Less time in leisure or other pursuits leaves more time for prayer and reflection on she who gave us Christ, and became the first and greatest Christian.

In reflecting on her and her incomparable life, we see a model Christian life, embodying Christ's retort to the woman who stated that Mary was blessed because she bore Him: blessed rather are those who hear His word and keep it. Mary did this better than anyone. She heard the word of God and kept it so well, that she of all women in history was chosen not only to hear His Word but give birth to it (Him). So while we fast in contemplation of her life, we are simultaneously preparing ourselves to live a life in imitation of her.

That is the purpose of the Dormition Fast.

4. Why Is Dormition So Important?

The eminent Orthodox theologian, Fr. Sergei Bulgakov, beautifully expresses the high regard which the Orthodox Christians have for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, for her special role in the salvation of mankind, when he affirms,

"The warm veneration of the Theotokos is the soul of Orthodox Piety."

St. John of Damascus, one of the great Orthodox fathers, pointed out that when the Blessed Virgin Mary became the Mother of God and gave birth to Christ, the Redeemer of Mankind, she became the mother of mankind. We call the Virgin Mary "Theotokos", from the Greek, which means "The Birth-Giver or the Bearer of God."

Why not refer to her simply as the Blessed Virgin Mary? Because, there are many holy Marys who were virgins, but there is only one Theotokos.

This is the highest title that can be bestowed upon any member of the human race.

The Theotokos, the Virgin Mary, was

"blessed amongst women,"

and she was chosen

"to bear the Savior of our souls."

We, therefore, as Orthodox Christians, consider her to be the Queen of all the saints and the angels.

Knowing that she holds such a high place in the Kingdom of Heaven and that she is eternally present at the throne of God interceding for mankind, we, as good Orthodox Christians, must pray for her love, guidance, and protection. We must never forget to ask for her intercessions in times of sickness and danger, and we must constantly thank her for her care and her prayers in our behalf.

The word "paraclesis" has two different meanings: the first is "consolation," from which the Holy Spirit is called the "Paraclete," or "Consoler"; the second is "supplication" or "petition". The Service of the Paraclesis to the Theotokos consists of hymns of supplication to obtain consolation and courage. It should be recited in times of temptation, discouragement or sickness. It is used more particularly during the two weeks before the Dormition, or Assumption, of the Theotokos, from August 1 to August 14.

The theme of these Paraclesis Services centers around the petition…

"Most Holy Theotokos, save us (by your intercession)."

Since these Paraclesis Services to the Theotokos are primarily petition for the welfare of the living, let the whole Church pray for you during the first fifteen days of August and especially on the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos on August 15th.

© 2011, Preachers Institute. All rights reserved.  

Assumption Poem: Like a Long, Drawn-out Breath
Like a long, drawn-out breath,
a pausing
was that last moment
of your old life.
You,
who had seen and felt and been so much
to those around you,
a clear lamp
for the light of your beloved son.

And so it came to this moment then,
long years after your darkest day,
and brightest morning,
long days since you last kissed him goodbye,
your perfect son.

Did you not
let that last breath pass
like a goodbye kiss to those gathered around you,
dear faces all.

A moment only of darkness,
and then,
once again,
that beloved voice whispered in your ear.

"Mother, it's time. Let's go home."  

Assumption Poem: Sancta Maria
Sancta Maria,
Sancta Virgo virginum,
Ora pro nobis.

O Blessed Mother
on this day when we celebrate
your joyful Assumption,
your joyful entry into Heaven,
remember this day
all those left behind
without joy,
thinking there is no hope,
who see only the darkness.

Sancta Maria,
Mater boni Consilii,
Consolatrix afflictorum,
Ora pro nobis.

O Blessed Mother,
be this day
with those attacked for no reason
but that they belong to the wrong group,
the unborn,
the poor,
the persecuted for their color,
their background,
their stance for right,
those caught in the crossfire
of other people's hate,
those who had no idea they were combattants
in another group's war.

Sancta Maria,
Mater Dei,
Speculum iustitiae,
Refugium peccatorum,
Ora pro nobis.

O Blessed Mother
You who comfort us in our sorrows,
Remind us of the truth of your son,
Aid us in our repentence,
Tell us the ways of Jesus' truth,
O keep us always under your mantle
safe in the loving hands
of such a mother!

Sancta Maria
Regina Angelorum,
Regina Martyrum,
Regina pacis,
Regina in caelum assumpta,
Ora pro nobis.

Amen. 

Assumption Poem: When I Think of Your Falling Asleep
Oh Blessed Mother,
when I think of your falling asleep
being reunited forever with your Son
assumed into Heaven
where you could become mother of us all,
I long to say,
Thank you, Mother,
for caring for us all,
for covering us with your mantle,
for looking after us when we stray,
for leading us home to your son.

Thank you Mother,
for all the sorrows, toil and care
you were willing to give
during your earthly life,
and thank you for trying so hard to reach
a hardheaded mankind
that too often chooses to go its own way.

Thank you Mother,
for helping to teach us how to be salt, light, and
leaven in this dark and sad world,
may we always be open to further your intentions,
and those of the sacred heart of your divine Son.

Amen

Assumption Homily

by Fr. Mark, Vultus Christi

Assumpta est Maria in caelum, gaudent angeli, laudantes benedicunt Dominum!
Mary has been taken up into heaven; the angels rejoice and, praising, bless the Lord! The Virgin in whose womb reposed the Author of Life is preserved from the corruption of the tomb. The Mother of God is assumed body and soul into the splendour of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Escorted by myriads of angels in jubilation, the Queen of Heaven advances toward her Son, who sits enthroned amid the stars.

Even Within the Veil

In a sense, the Assumption of the Mother of God is the liturgy of her Great Entrance; the feast of her oblation in the heavenly sanctuary, "the tabernacle, which the Lord hath pitched, and not man" (Heb 8:2). She is the Mother of Holy Hope. She is given to us to be our strongest comfort, to be the anchor of our souls, "sure and firm, and which entereth in even within the veil" (Heb 6:18-19).

Our Lady's Pascha

Today heaven and earth keep the summer festival of Marymas, Ladyday-in-the-Harvest, the Pascha of the all-holy Mother of God. She has passed into the great summer that, stretching from the springtime of the Resurrection until the return of the Lord in glory, presages the shining harvest of all the saints. The song of the angels soars, stretching, swelling, and cresting from choir to choir. The soul of the Virgin magnifies the Lord and her God-bearing flesh rejoices (Lk 1:46).

The Temple and the Ark

"And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of His testament was seen in His temple" (Apoc 11:19). In the First Book of Chronicles, we see the Ark of the Covenant solemnly transported to the tent made ready by David to receive it. David is the figure of Christ of whom he sings in the psalm, "He hath set his tabernacle in the sun" (Ps 18:6).

That Where I Am, You Also May Be

The Virgin Mary is the Ark of the Covenant, carried aloft by heavenly levites into the tent prepared for her by the King of Kings, the glorious Son of David, our Lord Jesus Christ. As she advances, angels raise sounds of joy on harps and lyres and cymbals and, in accord with the command of David, the appointed singers sing (1 Chr 15:16). Behold the wondrous fulfillment of what the Lord had promised: "In my Father's house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be" (Jn 14:2-3).

Arise, Make Haste

But listen! "The voice of my beloved, behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills" (Ct 2:8). In speaking to His Mother, Christ speaks to His Bride, the Church, and in speaking to His Bride the Church, He speaks to every soul washed in Baptism, sealed in Chrismation with the kiss of the Holy Ghost, and nourished at the banquet of His Body and Blood. "Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come" (Ct 2:10); for lo, the winter of our separation is past, the rain of so many tears is over and gone.

When I Appear Before His Sight

"I slept," says the Virgin of the Dormition, "I slept, but my heart kept watch." Ct 5:2). The heart of the Virgin is quickened and her flesh is suffused with fire. "Oh, how I rejoiced when I heard my Son say to me, ‘Let us go up to the house of the Lord'" (cf. Ps 121:1). "One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in His Father's house all the days of my life, that I may see the delight of the Lord" (Ps 26:4), and "when I appear before His sight, I shall be satisfied with the appearing of His glory" (Ps 16:15).

Thy Voice is Sweet and Thy Face Comely

Listen to the words of the Son. "Arise my love, my fair one, and come away (Ct 2:13) for I desire that thou, my mother, first among those whom the Father hath given me, shouldst be with me where I am, to behold my glory, the glory given me by my Father in his love for me before the foundation of the world (cf. Jn 17:24). All of heaven longeth to see thy face, Mother, and the angels yearneth to hear thy voice, "for thy voice is sweet, and thy face is comely" (Ct 2:14).

The Woman Clothed with the Sun

We see the Queen of Heaven "coming up from the wilderness, like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense" (Ct 3:6). The prophet Isaiah sees her coming from afar, recognizes the Virgin of the Sign (Is 7:14), the Mother of Emmanuel, and stands to greet her. "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you . . . The Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you" (Is 60:1-2). She is the woman "clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Apoc 12:1).

Hidden with Christ in God

The Mother of God has put on the imperishable; she is clothed in immortality (1 Cor 15:54). The Apostle lifts his voice in praise of the God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:57). Mary, first of all, knows the fullness of Christ's glorious triumph in her flesh. Mary is the first-fruits of the harvest sown by Jesus in his blessed Passion and Death. Mary is the first to follow Him into the glory of his Resurrection and Ascension. Her life now is hidden with the life of Christ in God (Col 3:3), and when He who is our life appears, then she also will appear with him in glory (Col 3:4). Mary waits for her children to join her, the small and the great, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and his Bride has made herself ready (Apoc 19:7).

Mary Hath Chosen the Better Part

And so, led by kings and levites, by angels, prophets and apostles, we make our way to the Gospel of the Assumption so cherished by the ancient liturgical traditions of both East and West for the Dormition of the Virgin, for "Mary hath chosen the better part, which shall not be taken away from her" (Lk 10:42).

The Virgin of Nazareth who surrendered her heart, her soul, and her flesh to the Word and the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost;
the Virgin of Bethlehem, joyful in her poverty;
the Virgin of Egypt, trusting in her exile;
the Virgin of Jerusalem, anguished and amazed by her child;
the Virgin of Cana, strong in her intercession;
the Virgin of Calvary, faithful in her compassion;
the Virgin of Holy Saturday, silent and indomitable in her hope;
the Virgin of the Cenacle, persevering in prayer;
the Virgin of the Mount of Olives, ardent in her desire,
has, at last, come to rest at the feet of her Son.

The One Thing Necessary

"And she had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching" (Lk 10:39). Behold our sister, Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, seated at the feet of our Lord! Behold our Mother, Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, in repose at the feet of her Son! She is seated at His feet in glory, higher than the seraphim and cherubim, exalted above all the angelic choirs, for to her is given the One Thing Necessary (Lk 10:42) in heaven and on earth. "Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee" (Ps 73:25).

A Mother Close to Her Children

Think not for a moment that the Assumption places a distance between us and the all-holy Mother of God. Quite the contrary. Her exaltation has made her closer to us than we can dream or imagine. The all-holy Virgin is mother, completely mother, and the desire of every mother is to be close to her children.

From her place of glory in heaven, she stoops down to us, attentive to our sufferings. Her compassion illumines this valley of tears. Her Assumption has not separated her from us. The Assumption is not a mystery of distance and separation but a mystery of nearness and of communion. Now set free from the limitations of space and of time, the holy Mother of God is capable of being present to all her children, to the little ones especially, to the broken-hearted, the weak, and the poor.

Mother of Mercy

Glorious in her Assumption, the Virgin Mother has but one desire: to do for each one of us what a loving mother would do for her child. Her weakness is for the poorest among us. Her predilection goes to those who stumble and fall rather than to those who walk straight and tall, to those who, bearing within themselves deep and secret wounds, are most in need of her attentions and care.

Let us lift up our eyes to the All-Holy Mother of God and Blessed Virgin Mary, praising and confessing the wonderful mystery of her Assumption. Today, dear brothers, she will hear all your requests, answering them according to the wisdom and love of her Immaculate Heart.

The Joys of Heaven

Today, she pierces all our darknesses with a ray of heavenly light. Her desire is to share with us the joys of heaven, the very joys that flood her body and her soul in the glory of her Son.

And for all of that, we need not wait. Already, here and now, we are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Apoc 19:9). Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory (Apoc 19:7) who with the Father lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Ghost, and who will come again, as he promised, to take us to Himself (Jn 14:3). "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Apoc 22:20).

Source: Vultus Christi

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