At the first movement, a wide and luminous circle of cloud appeared suddenly over the most pure body of the Mother of God like a wreath, and a host of angels joined together with the host of Apostles. The singing of the heavenly powers could be heard glorifying the Mother of God, and this singing was repeated by earthly voices. This circle of heavenly chanters and luminosity moved along in the air, accompanying the procession to the very place of burial.
Today the Holy Church solemnly glorifies the honorable Dormition or translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven. A wonderful translation - she died without serious illness, peacefully. Her soul is taken up in the divine hands of Her Son and carried up into the heavenly abode, accompanied by the sweet singing of angels.
For three days before her blessed end, amid burning prayer on the Mount of Olives, Archangel Gabriel announced to her that she would make the final passage, and gave her a frond from heaven. The Heavenly Queen, the Mother of God, was not confounded, she did not fear for her moment of death, and joyously took to her deathbed. In response to her wish, the Holy Apostles were miraculously gathered at her deathbed to pay their last respects at her funeral.
If, then, "death of the righteous man is honorable" (cf. Ps. 115:6) and the "memory of the just man is celebrated with songs of praise" (Prov. 10:7), how much more ought we to honor with great praises the memory of the holiest of the saints, she by whom all holiness is afforded to the saints, I mean the Ever-Virgin. Mother of God! Even so we celebrate today her holy dormition or translation to another life, whereby, while being "a little lower than angels" (Ps. 8:6), by her proximity to the God of all, and in the wondrous deeds which from the beginning of time were written down and accomplished with respect to her, she has ascended incomparably higher than the angels and the archangels and all the super-celestial hosts that are found beyond them.
This great Feast of the Church and the icon celebrates a fundamental teaching of our faith—the Resurrection of the body. In the case of the Theotokos, this has been accomplished by the divine will of God. Thus, this Feast is a feast of hope, hope in Resurrection and life eternal.
The respect of ancient Christians for the Mother of God was so great that they preserved what they could about Her life, what they could take note of concerning Her sayings and deeds, and they even passed down to us a description of Her outward appearance.
Along with the entire choir of Saints in the Kingdom of Heaven, together with those also who live today in the trenches of life and with the prayers of those who support the world, we also send her our supplications. My Panagia, my joy, my consolation, my hope, my breath, save us from every circumstance.
And when the fathers came, the Novice saw a wondrous vision, not sleeping but awake. That is, he saw a beautiful woman between two angels, who shined brighter than the rays of the sun. One held a cup full of heavenly bread, and the other a small cloth. And that beautiful woman, who was our Lady, held a golden spoon, and each brother came forward in his turn and the angel wiped their face with the cloth. After they venerated the Panagia, she took the spoon and gave them the heavenly bread.
Thus this poor mother taught her children who the Mother of God is, and she taught them with her whole heart that the Mother of God is their true Mother. Therefore, the children, rising in the morning, even before speaking with their mother, would run to the Mother of God, make several prostrations, pray the Lord’s Prayer and prayers to the Mother of God, honoring her according to the strength of their childish understanding.
We have read the last page of the sacred book, the content of which exudes innocence and piety from cover to cover. At the mere sight of this book, even the cruelest critics bearing the weight of prejudice and bias have silently stopped, and having read it from beginning to end, walked away with softened hearts and rejuvenated spirits.
This ceremony followed a Holy All-night Vigil which was officiated by Archimandrite Demetrios Kavathas, according to the long-term established Status Quo, at the Metochion of Gethsemane opposite the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The Icon is kept there and was taken to the Tomb of the Theotokos in Gethsemane.
In the evening of August 27, 2019, on the eve of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, a festive All-Night Vigil with a cross procession was celebrated at the Holy Dormition-Pskov Caves Monastery. The service was celebrated by Metroplitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov and Porkhov, three hierarchs of the Serbian Church: Bishop Irinej of Bačka, Bishop Anthony of Moravički, and Bishop Hesychios of Mohács, the clergy of the Pskov Caves Monastery, and ordained guests.
The blessed repose of the Most Pure Mother of God is known as the Dormition. But what kind of death in general can be called blessed, “good?” We asked several pastors this question and also asked what kind of death they would like for themselves.
Finally, the Divine Sufferer, avoiding His gaze meeting that of His poor, fervently loving Mother, deeply shaken by the Golgotha spectacle, turned His bloodied face to her, seeing His beloved disciple with her, who hadn’t abandoned the Mother of God, pronounced with an affectionate and filial voice, quiet from suffering: Woman behold they son!... Behold thy mother!
She, the door from which salvation entered the world, herself marvelously passed through the door of eternal life; “The door passes through the doorway”, as the Lamentation Service of the Dormition teaches us. In celebration of this great feast, let us virtually pass through the doors of some of the most beautiful Cathedrals, Monasteries, and Holy sites in the Rus’ Lands, dedicated to Her Dormition.
She kept all these things in her heart. St. Luke tells us this twice: Everything having to do with her Son was stored up in the spiritual treasure-house, in the interior sanctuary of Mary’s heart. And what that means, among other things, is that she carries in her heart all the members of the Body of her Son: every person who has been united to Christ, who has put on Christ: she is their Mother, because she is Christ’s Mother.
Brothers, what does it mean that the Church calls the end of Mother of God’s earthly life not death, as we usually refer to this moment in the lives of others, but her Dormition, which is the same as repose, or peaceful sleep; and not only does it not grieve or weep by her coffin, but to the contrary sings joyful, triumphant songs to her departure?
We need Wisdom. We need to see the Beauty of God, breathe it in, taste it and drink deeply from its springs. We need to understand Life again as shining with Love. We need to look in wonder at invisible Grace becoming visible in creation. We need to desire God, and to delight in His goodness.
Such was the humility more honorable than the seraphim and more glorious beyond compare than the cherubim of her whose purity exceeds that of the angels and astonished the heavenly moral perfections. Such was her humility, her modest self-esteem, that she supplicated the Creator to ban the fallen spirits from access to her all-chaste soul. The Queen of Heaven knew that the ascent from earth to heaven is the final exam and trial which you and I shall invariably undergo—one sooner, another later, but we are all behooved once to die and then to appear at the judgment seat of Christ. This is why the feast of the Dormition is so important for every one of us.
Like families anywhere, monastic communities have their public and private challenges, and turn their best face to the world. Unstudied contentment reasserts its hold over the Sinai fortress each year however, as monastics converge on the Monastery from all directions, drawn back for the celebrations of the Dormition of the Theotokos from near or far flung hermitages throughout the Mediterranean world.
Those who live their life in Christ, those who follow the word of God and keep it like the Mother of God did, and does, have that to look forward to—a resurrection to eternal life, a resurrection not unto judgment but unto life. And if you notice in the icon of the Holy Dormition in the center of the church today, yes, her body is laid out to be taken to her tomb in Gethsemane, but Christ is there with her soul wrapped in swaddling clothes as an infant, and He’s carrying her.
She overcame nature by her unique childbearing and therefore “It was fitting that she, who preserved her virginity undamaged by childbirth, should have her body preserved from corruption in death," and thus her passing is referred to as a “deathless Dormition.” Although she was above nature, she submitted to the corruption of death as had her Son: “Imitating your Creator and Son, above nature you submit to the laws of nature. She was a little lower than the angels through mortality, but “by her proximity to the God of all … she has ascended higher than the angels and the archangels and all the hosts that are found beyond them.”
Virgin Mary is a holy figure for Greeks not only because she gave birth to Jesus but because worshippers have connected Her with the Greek nation’s freedom in many cases. As a result, the mother of Jesus has been given several different names all over Greece as locals wanted to thank Virgin Mary for her aid in some of the woes they faced. It’s the same holy figure, having taken different names, though.