Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dormition of the Most-Holy Mother of God

dormition.jpgThe Mother of God is translated from earth to Heaven. Instead of sorrow, her death brings the Apostles and all the faithful for all time unexpected JOY. She goes to be with her Son, just as every pious Christian who has lived his life worthily will go to be with Him when they die. And She, who is closest of all created beings to Her Son, prays for us continually:

Neither the tomb nor death had power over the Theotokos, who is ever watchful in her prayers and in whose intercession lies unfailing hope. For as the Mother of Life she has been transported into life by Him who dwelt within her ever-virgin womb. Kondak of the feast of Dormition

The Mother of God is holy because She contained within herself the Creator of everything…however, She was a human, born into the same sinful world as us. Instead of choosing sin, She chose virtue in every circumstance, struggling successfully against every temptation in life.

For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden…for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name. And His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation. Lk1:48-50

These are not simply excited words of happiness, nor guesswork, or accidental foreboding but rather, prophesies in the most exact sense of the word. It is the word of the Holy Spirit in the mouth of Mary, the announcement of God’s providential will for her destiny, and about our obligations to her.
We see that the holy Virgin, after the announcement of Archangel Gabriel, went to the house of Zacharias. What does that home signify? That home is blessed by deeds of piety. It is a home where God is known, which honours Him with reverence and diligently serves Him. In it She will see nothing but examples that awaken, strengthen and support Her zealousness and piety. This is the company the holy Virgin seeks.

What should we conclude from this? That we in our acquaintances need to be extremely careful. In our choice of friends we need to look not at status, merit, or nationality, nor at importance or riches, nor at the glamour of fortune, nor at natural capabilities, nor at lively character, nor at a person’s extensive mind and fame, but rather - at the person’s virtue and committed life, at their piety, at their righteous soul, purity of heart and chaste morals.

I have chosen rather to be an outcast in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of sinners. Psalm 83:11

So says King and Prophet David about himself. Here is the example by which we must evaluate homes and friends, and thus distinguish with whom we can or cannot have close relationships.
If sinners have distanced themselves from the Lord; then it is to our profit and our responsibility to distance ourselves from them. This does not mean being unfriendly or lack of love towards sinners - it simply means that sinners should not be our close ones - they should not have an insight into the treasure of our soul.
Let our true friendships rather be with Christians, with people fully devoted to God, Whom we must love above all and more than everything.
Where do we find such friends? God might grant us to find them in unexpected places - but they are more likely found in the Church community than in the secular world. However, even in the Church community, people have advanced in their spiritual life to different degrees. We should emulate the perfect, and at the same time remain loving toward all, including those making their first, perhaps clumsy steps in the faith.

Let us notice, also, that the holy Virgin Mary places her joy in God, rather than in her friends and relatives, whom she was with at this time:

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Lk1:47

Let the example of the Mother of God teach us to place our joy in God alone. For He is the highest perfection of Good and the Source of all happiness. He sent His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ from heaven to earth, in order to avert men’s hearts from the vanities of this world and to attract them to Himself. By these means He wishes to make all people partakers of His own goodness.

Therefore, we need to search for happiness, not for the flesh and blood, but for the soul. We should not busy ourselves too much with gathering earthly acquisitions or earthly, worldly friendships. Rather, we should concentrate on acquiring heavenly treasures. This mystical treasure will be ours to see after we die - just as the Mother of God found Her treasure when She died. She died bodily, like any earthborn person - but after three days, Her body was no longer found in the tomb, as testified by the Holy Apostles and written about by the very early Church Fathers. Her many appearances and tangible help to Christians from the time of the Apostles to this very day are the proof Orthodox Christians hold of Her greatness in the work of the Providence of God. After God, She is our greatest friend and helper!

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Metropolitan Agafangel
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