The Dormition of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
Commemorated on August 15
«Watch over us, O Queen, the dwelling-place of our Lord. Lead and govern all our ways as thou wilt.…».
“Remain with us, our comfort, our sole joy in this world.
O Mother leave us not orphans…”
Dormition of the Mother of God
Anthony Bloom of Sourozh
Sunday, 28th August, 1986.
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
The Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God – which combines two events: Her death and Her resurrection in the body on the third day – has been for centuries, indeed, from the very beginning of the existence of the Russian Orthodox Church its Feast, its joy, its glory.
The Mother of God has not been a passive instrument of the Incarnation; without Her ‘Amen’ the Incarnation would have been as impossible as without the will of God. She is the response of the whole creation to God’s love and to God’s gift of self not only to mankind but to the whole Cosmos He has created. And in that we rejoice, because Her word is our word. Her word was perfect, as Her trust was, Her faith was, Her gift of self was. Ours is imperfect, and yet our voices resound within Hers, weakly, hesitantly at times, but with faith and also with love.
She is the glory of all Creation; the Mother of God: one might have expected that death could not touch Her; but if death and a death so cruel could touch Her Divine Son, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, the Son of God and the Son of man – of course She had to pay the tribute of all the earth to the sin of man and also die. But according to Orthodox Tradition, death could not keep Her prisoner. She had given Herself unreservedly and perfectly to God, and it was to God, no longer to the earth that She belonged. And on the third day, when the Apostles came and reopened Her grave for one of them to be able to venerate Her, who had not been present at Her burial, it was found empty: She had risen because the bonds of death could not hold Her, and corruption could not touch a body which had been the body of the Incarnation. What a wonderful joy to think that now, side by side with the risen and ascended Christ, one of us, of mankind, a woman of flesh and blood is enthroned and in Her we can see the glory which will, we believe, be ours if we are faithful to God as She was.
So, let us rejoice, and not only here where our church has been dedicated since the early eighteenth century to the Assumption of the Mother of God, to Her Dormition, but with the whole Russian Church, and with all those who belong to it and are scattered over the face of the world, one with the Mother Church, one with the Mother of God, worshipping the Lord with all there is in us and seeing in Her the image of the whole Creation in adoration before the Living God. Amen.
Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica
Today, when I said, “Blessed is the Kingdom …,” the children responded with “Amen.” This reminded me of those days of my youth and it touched my heart.
When the chanting is as beautiful as this, we are freed from all our cares and our interest for earthly things and we ascend into eternity with the Lord, His angels, and the saints, where our true Fatherland and our Kingdom is. If our Fatherland were of this world, then we would live here in a state of well‑being, peace, and joy. However, this life for us Christians is, so to say, an epitimia. In this life we must prepare ourselves for life in the Heavenly Kingdom and we must attain Divine peace. No one can give us that peace; only God can give peace to created beings and to us if we seek Him and long for Him with all our heart and if we desire to become one with Him. He wants our souls to be united with Him, with His Divine will. He wants our entire being to become one with Him in order that we may feel the joy of living. We, on the other hand, get very involved in this material life and we have no time to think about our soul, about our inner peace. We are always shattering our inner peace.
We have many examples by which we can learn. The Lord gave us first of all the Most Holy Theotokos. It was His will that the Most Holy Theotokos remain with the holy Apostles to comfort and encourage them after His Resurrection and Ascension. One of the God‑bearing Fathers, a native of Athens, St. Dionysios the Areopagite, wished to see the Most Holy Mother of God. When he arrived in Jerusalem, they took him to the home of St. John the Theologian, where the Most Holy Theotokos lived. When he entered her chamber, he was at once free of all cares and worries and was overcome with ineffable joy and peace. This is how he describes his meeting with the Most Holy Theotokos: “Had I not learned in my Youth about the True God, for me the Most Holy Theotokos would have been God.”
See what peace, stillness, and joy radiate from the Most Holy Theotokos! God has allowed peace and joy to radiate from every soul that is one with Him. Divine peace and joy emanate from such a person and we feel good in his presence. Do you see what the Kingdom of Heaven means? The Kingdom of God is… righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14: 17).
Reference: Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, Homily on the Dormition of the Theotokos ,pp163 – 170
During the lifetime of the Mother of God, St Dionysius the Areopagite had journeyed from Athens to Jerusalem to meet Her. He wrote to his teacher the Apostle Paul: “I witness by God, that besides the very God Himself, there is nothing else filled with such divine power and grace. No one can fully comprehend what I saw. I confess before God: when I was with John, who shone among the Apostles like the sun in the sky, when I was brought before the countenance of the Most Holy Virgin, I experienced an inexpressible sensation. Before me gleamed a sort of divine radiance which transfixed my spirit. I perceived the fragrance of indescribable aromas and was filled with such delight that my very body became faint, and my spirit could hardly endure these signs and marks of eternal majesty and heavenly power. The grace from her overwhelmed my heart and shook my very spirit. If I did not have in mind your instruction, I should have mistaken Her for the very God. It is impossible to stand before greater blessedness than this which I beheld.” Saint Dionysius attained such heights of divine contemplation that he was accounted worthy of being numbered among the Apostles, and was wondrously transported to Jerusalem for the entombment of the Mother of God.
St John of Damascus:
Sermon I on the Dormition of the Virgin
We, too, approach thee to-day, O Queen; and again, I say, O Queen, O Virgin Mother of God, staying our souls with our trust in thee, as with a strong anchor. Lifting up mind, soul and body, and all ourselves to thee, rejoicing in psalms and hymns and spiritual canticles, we reach through thee One who is beyond our reach on account of His Majesty. If, as the divine Word made flesh taught us,  honour shown to servants, is honour shown to our common Lord, how can honour shown to thee, His Mother, be slighted? How is it not most desirable? Art thou not honoured as the very breath of life? Thus shall we best show our service to our Lord Himself. What do I say to our Lord? It is sufficient that those who think of Thee should recall the memory of Thy most precious gift as the cause of our lasting joy. How it fills us with gladness! How the mind that dwells on this holy treasury of Thy grace enriches itself.
This is our thank-offering to thee, the first fruits of our discourses, the best homage of my poor mind, whilst I am moved by desire of thee, and full of my own misery. But do thou graciously receive my desire, knowing that it exceeds my power. Watch over us, O Queen, the dwelling-place of our Lord. Lead and govern all our ways as thou wilt. Save us from our sins. Lead us into the calm harbour of the divine will. Make us worthy of future happiness through the sweet and face-to-face vision of the Word made flesh through thee. With Him, glory, praise, power, and majesty be to the Father and to the holy and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Excerpt , St John of Damascus: Sermon I on the Dormition of the Virgin
At Vespers: Genesis 28:10-17; Ezekiel 43:27-44:4; Proverbs 9:1-11.
At the Matins: Luke 1:39-49, 56.
At the Divine Liturgy: Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28.
Apolytikion (First Tone)
In birth, you preserved your virginity; in death, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. As mother of life, you departed to the source of life, delivering our souls from death by your intercessions.
Kontakion (Second Tone)
Neither the grave nor death could contain the Theotokos, the unshakable hope, ever vigilant in intercession and protection. As Mother of life, He who dwelt in the ever-virginal womb transposed her to life.
Doxastikon – Great vespers – Dormition of the Theotokos
Tone One: Verily, the God-mantled Apostles were caught up on all sides, ascending the clouds by a divine sign.
Tone Five: And they came up to thy most pure, life-originating resting-place to kiss it reverently.
Tone Two: As for the most sublime heavenly powers, they came with their own chief.
Tone Six: To escort, enwrapped in awe, thine all-honored, God-receiving body, they went before in a super-earthly manner, shouting invisibly to the heavenly ranks, Behold the Queen of all, the divine Maiden, has come.
Tone Three: Lift up the gates and receive super-earthly-wise the Mother of everlasting Light.
Tone Seven: For through her hath salvation come to the whole human race. And she is the one on whom it is impossible to gaze, and whom we never can honor sufficiently.
Tone Four: For the honor through which she became sublime transcendeth all understanding.
Tone Eight: Wherefore, O undefiled Theotokos, everlasting with thy life-bearing Son, intercede with Him unceasingly that He may preserve and save thy new people from every hostile assault; for we have taken thee unto us as our helper.
Tone One: Therefore, do we magnify thee with voices of joy unto all ages.
Doxastikon from Great Vespers (Dormition of the Theotokos) Aug. 15
Chanted by then Bishop Ephraim from Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston, Mass.
Doxastikon Dormition of The Theotokos (Arabic+Greek+English)
George Theodoridis – Rassem El Massih – Stephen Esper – Nicholas J. Jones – Amjad Khalil
ΘΕΑΡΧΙΩ ΝΕΥΜΑΤΙ ΧΟΡΩΔΙΑ ΣΤΑΝΙΤΣΑ ΚΩΝΣΤΑΝΤΙΝΟΥΠΟΛΗ