This coming Saturday marks the great feast of the Dormition, or falling asleep, of the Theotokos, the Mother of our Lord. In this week’s short meditation, we will reflect on two important questions: 1) why we greatly honour, and frequently call upon the Virgin Mary in our prayers? and; 2) why the Church places so much importance on Her falling asleep?
The Virgin Mary, or ‘Theotokos’ (God bearer) ‘brought forth God the Word,’ our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, with dedication and humility. She, as the ‘New Eve’ (St Justin Martyr) brought salvation into the world by bearing, nurturing and following the Lord. Through the Ever-Virgin Mary – the bridge connecting humanity with divinity – we are shown the perfect example of a servant of God, an example of trust and of dedication to the will of our Loving Creator. Because of her fundamental role in the salvation of humanity and in our understanding of God’s plan and economy*, the Church honours Her, is grateful to Her, and calls for Her intercessory prayers and supplications to Her Son and our God. God ‘was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man,’ we state in the Creed. For this reason our honour, love and respect towards the person of the Mother of God is simultaneously worship towards the triune God, for the Virgin Mary in Her words, way of life and example, directly points us to God Almighty.
Why do we celebrate Her passing from this life into eternity? Is death something we should celebrate? We commemorate saints on the anniversary of their falling asleep, on the day of their death, in order to remind ourselves that death for us does not exist, in Christ. The celebration of the peaceful falling asleep of the Theotokos and (according to Holy Tradition) Her body being ‘translated’ or ascending into Heaven, reminds us and assures us of the eternal joy and rest that lies before us if we self-sacrificially entrust ourselves and one another to Christ, Who is ‘the Resurrection and the Life.’ (Jn 11:25) Her obedient relationship with Christ was fulfilled in Her falling asleep, uniting with Her Son and Saviour Who She had served faithfully and spotlessly.
As we approach the feast of the Dormition, commemorating and calling upon the All-Holy Virgin, let us, as the youth of the Church, set Her as our daily example of acceptance of the will of God, of continual loving sacrifice both to God and to those around us. As Christians we see the worth and great value of every woman or man in the incarnation and person of the Theotokos. A blessed feast to all!
*Word of the Day: Economy
In the context of the Christian faith the word economy means His plan of salvation – what could be described as His dispensation of mercy and the Church’s understanding of one’s context and circumstances. It is through God’s economy that, in the sacraments of the Church, we are forgiven.
Hymn of the Week: ‘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.’