Germanus of Constantinople: “It is Time, My Mother”, Says the Lord, “to Take You to Myself” Thursday, Aug 15 2013 

Germanus of ConstantinopleIt is time, my Mother, (says the Lord), to take you to myself. Just as you have filled the earth and all who dwell in it with joy, O you who enjoy such grace, come, and make the heavens joyful once again.

Make my Father’s dwelling-place radiant; be a spiritual guide for the souls of the saints.

For when they see your glorious passage here to my side, escorted by angels, they will be convinced in their faith that their own place, too, through you, will be to dwell here in my light.

Come, then, in exultation; rejoice now, as you rejoiced at the angel’s greeting. In every way you now have the dignity of your title, ‘full of grace.’

As when you were about to conceive me you were invited to rejoice, so rejoice again in my desire to take you to myself.

Do not be disturbed at leaving behind the corruptible world, with all its desires. Forget about its power of corruption.

For you will not leave those who live in the world bereft of your protection; but just as I, who am not of the world, watch over those who live in it and take care of them, so your patronage will not be taken away from those who live in the world, until its consummation.

The extravagant demands of the flesh will no longer disturb you. You are ascending to a fuller life, to joyful rest, to unconquerable peace, to an existence untroubled by cares, to delights free of passion, to permanent freedom from distraction, to unending enjoyment, to a light that never fades, to a day without evening—to me, the creator of all that is, including you.

Where I am, there is eternal life, incomparable joy, a dwelling-place without parallel, an indestructible city. Where I am, then, you will be also: a mother inseparably one with her undivided Son. Where God is, there is all goodness of heart, all delight, all brilliance.

No one who knows my glory wants to abandon it. No one who comes to my rest seeks again the things of the corruptible world. Ask Peter if there was any comparison or likeness between the world and Mount Tabor, when he gazed for a short time on my glory.

When you lived in the world of corruptible things, I revealed my power to you in visions; now that you are passing from that life, I will show myself to you face to face. Give the earth what belongs to it, without anxiety.

Germanus of Constantinople (c.634–c.733): excerpt from An Encomium on the Holy and Venerable Dormition of Our Most Glorious Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, in On the Dormition of Mary: Early Patristic Homilies, SVS Press, 1998, pp.170-172); fuller extract @ Priest Matthew Jackson.

John Damascene: Feast of the Dormition – Christ the New Solomon and Mary the True Ark Thursday, Aug 15 2013 

John-of-Damascus_01What of those who watched by the most holy and all-holy body of God’s Mother?

In loving reverence and with tears of joy they gathered round the blessed and divine tabernacle, embracing every member, and were filled with holiness and thanksgiving.

Then illnesses were cured, and demons were put to flight and banished to the regions of darkness.

The air and atmosphere and heavens were sanctified by her passage through them, the earth by the burial of her body.

[…] Sinners who approached with faith blotted out the handwriting against them.

Then the holy body is wrapped in a snow-white winding-sheet, and the queen is again laid, upon her bed.

Then follow lights and incense and hymns, and angels singing as befits the solemnity; apostles and patriarchs acclaiming her in inspired song.

When the Ark of God, departing from Mount Sion for the heavenly country, was borne on the shoulders of the Apostles, it was placed on the way in the tomb.

First it was taken through the city, as a bride dazzling with spiritual radiance, and then carried to the sacred place of Gethsemane, angels overshadowing it with their wings, going before, accompanying, and following it, together with the whole assembly of the Church.

King Solomon compelled all the elders of Israel in Sion to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the city of David, that is Sion, to rest in the temple of the Lord, which he had built, and the priests took the ark and the tabernacle of the testimony, and the priests and levites raised it.

And the king and all the people sacrificed numberless oxen and sheep before the ark. And the priests carried in the ark of the testimony of God into its place, into the Holy of Holies, beneath the wings of the cherubim.

So is it now with the dwelling-place of the true ark, no longer of the testimony, but the very substance of God the Word.

The new Solomon, the Prince of peace, the Creator of all things in the heavens and on the earth, assembled together to-day the supporters of the new covenant, that is the Apostles, with all the people of the saints in Jerusalem, brought in her soul through angels to the true Holy of Holies, under the wings of the four living creatures, and set her on His throne within the Veil, where Christ Himself had preceded her.

Her body the while is borne by the Apostles’ hands, the King of Kings covering her with the splendour of His invisible Godhead, the whole assembly of the saints preceding her, with sacred song and sacrifice of praise until through the tomb it was placed in the delights of Eden, the heavenly tabernacles.

John Damascene (c.675-749): Homily 2 on the Dormition of the Theotokos @ Medieval Sourcebook.

Gregory Palamas: “At Thy Right Hand Stood The Queen” Wednesday, Aug 14 2013 

Gregory_PalamasWho can describe in words thy divinely resplendent beauty, O Virgin Mother of God? Thoughts and words are inadequate to define thine attributes, since they surpass mind and speech.

Yet it is meet to chant hymns of praise to thee, for thou art a vessel containing every grace, the fulness of all things good and beautiful, the tablet and living icon of every good and all uprightness, since thou alone hast been deemed worthy to receive the fulness of every gift of the Spirit.

Thou alone didst bear in thy womb Him in Whom are found the treasuries of all these gifts and didst become a wondrous tabernacle for Him; hence thou didst depart by way of death to immortality and art translated from earth to Heaven, as is proper, so that thou mightest dwell with Him eternally in a super-celestial abode.

From thence thou ever carest diligently for thine inheritance and by thine unsleeping intercessions with Him, thou showest mercy to all. To the degree that she is closer to God than all those who have drawn nigh unto Him, by so much has the Theotokos been deemed worthy of greater audience.

I do not speak of rnen alone, but also of the angelic hierarchies themselves. Isaiah writes with regard to the supreme commanders of the heavenly hosts: “And the seraphim stood round about Him” (Isaiah 6:2); but David says concerning her, “at Thy right hand stood the queen” (Ps. 44:8).

Do you see the difference in position? From this comprehend also the difference in the dignity of their station. The seraphim are round about God, but the only Queen of all is near beside Him.

She is both wondered at and praised by God Himself, proclaiming her, as it were, by the mighty deeds enacted with respect to Him, and saying, as it is recorded in the Song of Songs, “How fair is my companion” (cf. Song of Songs 6:4), she is more radiant than light, more arrayed with flowers than the divine gardens, more adorned than the whole world, visible and invisible.

She is not merely a companion but she also stands at God’s right hand, for where Christ sat in the heavens, that is, at the “right hand of majesty” (Heb. 1:3), there too she also takes her stand, having ascended now from earth into the heavens.

Not merely does she love and is loved in return more than every other, according to the very laws of nature, but she is truly His Throne, and wherever the King sits, there His Throne is set also. And Isaiah beheld this throne amidst the choir of cherubim and called it “high” and “exalted” (Isaiah 6:1), wishing to make explicit how the station of the Mother of God far transcends that of the celestial hosts.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): extracted from A Homily on the Dormition of Our Supremely Pure Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary @ Mediaeval Sourcebook.

John of Kronstadt: If we remove sins from the soul, the Lord of all will fill it with himself Saturday, Sep 1 2012 

john_kronstadtThe translation of the Mother of God is a paradigm of the translation in general of the souls of Christians to the other world.

We say that our dead have “fallen asleep” or “passed away.” What does this mean? This means that for the true Christian there is no death.

Death was conquered by Christ on the cross. But there is a translation, i.e, a rearrangement of his condition, i.e. his soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grave, eternal, without end; that is what is meant by “falling asleep”.

[…] This is what the Christian means by translation. We should be ready for this translation, for the day of the general resurrection and judgment, for this indescribable world event, recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

This preparation for the meeting of the heavenly King before the dread judgment seat, after death, is essentially the person’s preparation throughout the whole of his life.

This preparation means a change in all his thoughts, and the moral change of all his being, so that the whole man would be pure and white as snow, washing clean everything that defiles the body and spirit, so that he is adorned with every virtue: repentance, meekness, humility, gentleness, simplicity, chastity, mercifulness, abstention, spiritual contemplation, and burning love for God and neighbor.

Our preparation for meeting the heavenly King, and for the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, should consist of these things.

The heavenly King desires souls adorned with immutable virtue, souls prepared so that the Very Lord Himself could abide in them.

Do not marvel that the Very Lord wants to live in us. In fact the human soul is more spacious than the heavens and the earth, for it exists in the image of God.

And if one removes sins from the soul, the Lord of all will settle in it and will fill it with Himself.

“We will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23), says the Lord about the souls who love Him.

And so, ye participants in the Christian feasts, and especially the present feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, ye who are brightly adorned with every virtue and translated to the heavenly kingdom, to Her Son and God, proclaim to each and every one about preparing their souls to be the dwelling place of the Lord, about continual repentance, and about the incorruptible adornment of Christian virtue.

Let your death also be unashamed and peaceful, serving as the pledge of a good answer at the dread judgment seat of Christ.

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): Sermon on the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos @ Pravoslavie.

John Damascene: Death is Become the Passage to Immortality Tuesday, Aug 14 2012 

(Following on from here…)

Then Adam and Eve, our first parents, opened their lips to exclaim:

“Thou blessed daughter of ours, who hast removed the penalty of our disobedience!

“Thou, inheriting from us a mortal body, hast won us immortality. Thou, taking thy being from us, hast given us back the being in grace.

“Thou hast conquered pain and loosened the bondage of death. Thou hast restored us to our former state.

“We had shut the door of paradise; thou didst find entrance to the tree of life. Through us sorrow came out of good; through thee good from sorrow.

“How canst thou who art all fair taste of death ? Thou art the gate of life and the ladder to heaven.

“Death is become the passage to immortality. O thou truly blessed one! Who that is not the Word could have borne what thou hast borne?”

All the company of the saints exclaimed:

“Thou hast fulfilled our predictions. Thou hast purchased our present joy for us. Through thee we have broken the chains of death.

“Come to us, divine and life-giving receptacle. Come, our desire, thou who hast gained us our desire.”

And the saints standing by added their no less burning words:

“Remain with us, our comfort, our sole joy in this world. O Mother leave us not orphans who have suffered on thy Son’s account.

“May we have thee as a refuge and refreshment in our labours and weariness. Thou canst remain if thou so willest, even as thou canst depart hence.

“If thou departest, O dwelling-place of God let us go too, if we are thine through thy Son. Thou art our sole consolation on earth. We live as long as thou livest, and it is bliss to die with thee.

“Why do we speak of death? Death is life to thee, and better than life – incomparably exceeding this life. How is our life life, if we are deprived of thee?”

The apostles and all the assembly of the Church may well have addressed some such words to the blessed Virgin.

When they saw the Mother of God near her end and longing for it, they were moved by divine grace to sing farewell hymns, and wrapt out of the flesh, they sighed to accompany the dying Mother of God, and anticipated death through intensity of will.

When they had all satisfied their duty of loving reverence and had woven her a rich crown of hymns, they spoke a parting blessing over her, as a God-given treasure, and the last words.

These, I should think, were significant of this life’s fleetingness, and of its leading to the hidden mysteries of future goods.

John Damascene (c.675-749): Homily 2 on the Dormition of the Theotokos @Monachos.net.

Gregory Palamas: A Universal Mixing Bowl of All Divine, Angelic and Human Things Good and Beautiful Tuesday, Aug 14 2012 

The Mother of God…“stands at the right of the King of all clothed in a vesture wrought with gold and arrayed with divers colors” (cf. Ps. 44:9).

By “vesture wrought with gold” understand her divinely radiant body arrayed with divers colors of every virtue.

She alone in her body, glorified by God, now enjoys the celestial realm together with her Son.

For, earth and grave and death did not hold forever her life-originating and God-receiving body – the dwelling more favored than Heaven and the Heaven of heavens.

If, therefore, her soul, which was an abode of God’s grace, ascended into Heaven when bereaved of things here below, a thing which is abundantly evident, how could it be that the body which not only received in itself the pre-eternal and only-begotten Son of God, the ever-flowing Wellspring of grace, but also manifested His Body by way of birth, should not have also been taken up into Heaven?

[…] The body which gave birth is glorified together with what was born of it with God-befitting glory, and the “ark of holiness” (Ps. 131:8) is resurrected, after the prophetic ode, together with Christ Who formerly arose from the dead on the third day.

[…] There was no necessity for her body to delay yet a little while in the earth, as was the case with her Son and God, and so it was taken up straightway from the tomb to a super-celestial realm, from whence she flashes forth most brilliant and divine illuminations and graces, irradiating earth’s region; thus she is worshipped and marvelled at and hymned by all the faithful .

Willing to set up an image of all goodness and beauty and to make clearly manifest His own therein to both angels and men, God fashioned a being supremely good and beautiful, uniting in her all good, seen and unseen, which when He made the world He distributed to each thing and thereby adorned all.

Or rather one might say, He showed her forth as a universal mixing bowl of all divine, angelic and human things good and beautiful and the supreme beauty which embellished both worlds.

By her ascension now from the tomb, she is taken from the earth and attains to Heaven and this also she surpasses, uniting those on high with those below, and encompassing all with the wondrous deed wrought in her.

In this manner she was in the beginning “a little lower than the angels” (Ps. 8:6), as it is said, referring to her mortality, yet this only served to magnify her pre-eminence as regards all creatures. Thus all things today fittingly gather and commune for the festival.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): extracted from A Homily on the Dormition of Our Supremely Pure Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary from the translation at Internet History Sourcebook Project.

Gregory Palamas: She Made Earth Heavenly, She Deified the Human Race Wednesday, Aug 1 2012 

The death of the Theotokos [Greek for “Mother of God”] was…life-bearing, translating her into a celestial and immortal life and its commemoration is a joyful event and festivity for the entire world.

It not merely renews the memory of the wondrous deeds of the Mother of God, but also adds thereto the strange gathering at her all-sacred burial of all the sacred apostles conveyed from every nation, the God-revealing hymns of these God-possessed ones, and the solicitous presence of the angels, and their choir, and liturgy round about her, going on before, following after, assisting, opposing, defending, being defended.

They labored and chanted together to their uttermost with those who venerated that life- originating and God-receiving body, the saving balsam for our race and the boast of all creation….

All the while the Lord Sabaoth Himself, the Son of the Ever-Virgin, was present, into Whose hands she rendered her divinely-minded spirit, through which and with which its companion, her body, was translated into the domain of celestial and endless life, even as was and is fitting.

In truth, many have been allotted divine favor and glory and power, as David says, “But to me exceedingly honorable are Thy friends, O Lord, their principalities are made exceeding strong. I will count them and they shall be multiplied more than the sand” (Ps. 138:17).

And according to Solomon, “many daughters have attained wealth, many have wrought valiantly; but she doth exceed, she hath surpassed all, both men and women” (cf. Prov. 31:29).

For while she alone stood between God and the whole human race, God became the Son of Man and made men sons of God; she made earth heavenly, she deified the human race, and she alone of all women was shown forth to be a mother by nature and the Mother of God transcending every law of nature, and by her ineffable childbirth-the Queen of all creation, both terrestial and celestial.

Thus she exalted those under her through herself, and, showing while on earth an obedience to things heavenly rather than things earthly, she partook of more excellent deserts and of superior power, and from the ordination which she received from heaven by the Divine Spirit, she became the most sublime of the sublime and the supremely blest Queen of a blessed race.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): extracted from A Homily on the Dormition of Our Supremely Pure Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary from the translation at Internet History Sourcebook Project.

John Damascene: The Living City of the Lord God is Assumed from God’s Temple, the Visible Sion Monday, Aug 22 2011 

Of old the Lord God banished from the garden of Eden our first parents after their disobedience, when they had dulled the eye of their heart through their sin, and weakened their mind’s discernment, and had fallen into death-like apathy.

But, now, shall not paradise receive her, who broke the bondage of all passion, sowed the seed of obedience to God and the Father, and was the beginning of life to the whole human race ? Will not heaven open its gates to her with rejoicing?

Yes, indeed. Eve listened to the serpent, adopted his suggestion, was caught by the lure of false and deceptive pleasure, and was condemned to pain and sorrow, and to bear children in suffering. With Adam she received the sentence of death, and was placed in the recesses of Limbo.

How can death claim as its prey this truly blessed one, who listened to God’s word in humility, and was filled with the Spirit, conceiving the Father’s gift through the archangel, bearing without concupiscence or the co-operation of man the Person of the Divine Word, who fills all things, bringing Him forth, without the pains of childbirth, being wholly united to God?

How could Limbo open its gates to her ? How could corruption touch the life-giving body ? These are things quite foreign to the soul and body of God’s Mother.

Death trembled before her. In approaching her Son, death had learnt experience from His sufferings, and had grown wiser. The gloomy descent to hell was not for her, but a joyous, easy, and sweet passage to heaven.

If, as Christ, the Life and the Truth says: “Wherever I am, there is also my minister,” how much more shall not His mother be with Him?

She brought Him forth without pain, and her death, also, was painless. The death of sinners is terrible, for in it, sin, the cause of death, is sacrificed.

What shall we say of her if not that she is the beginning of perpetual life. Precious indeed is the death of His saints to the Lord God of powers. More than precious is the passing away of God’s Mother.

Now let the heavens and the angels rejoice: let the earth and men be full of gladness. Let the air resound with song and canticle, and dark night put off its gloom, and emulate the brightness of day through the scintillating stars.

The living city of the Lord God is assumed from God’s temple, the visible Sion, and kings bring forth His most precious gift, their mother, to the heavenly Jerusalem, that is to say, the apostles constituted princes by Christ, over all the earth, accompany the ever virginal Mother of God.

John Damascene (c.675-749): Homily 2 on the Dormition of the Theotokos @ Monachos.net.

John Damascene: Mary was Taken to a More Divine Place, where Death is not, but Eternal Life Monday, Aug 15 2011 

O how does the source of life pass through death to life? O how can she obey the law of nature, who, in conceiving, surpasses the boundaries of nature?

How is her spotless body made subject to death? In order to be clothed with immortality she must first put off mortality, since the Lord of nature did not reject the penalty of death.

She dies according to the flesh, destroys death by death, and through corruption gains incorruption, and makes her death the source of resurrection.

O how does Almighty God receive with His own hands the holy, disembodied soul of our Lord’s Mother!

He honours her truly, whom being His servant by nature, He made His Mother, in His inscrutable abyss of mercy, when He became incarnate in very truth.

We may well believe that the angelic choirs waited to receive thy departing soul. O what a blessed departure this going to God of thine!

If God vouchsafes it to all His servants – and we know that He does – what an immense difference there is between His servants and His Mother.

What, then, shall we call this mystery of thine? Death? Thy blessed soul is naturally parted from thy blissful and undefiled body, and the body is delivered to the grave, yet it does not endure in death, nor is it the prey of corruption.

The body of her, whose virginity remained unspotted in childbirth, was preserved in its incorruption, and was taken to a better, more divine place, where death is not, but eternal life.

[…] Therefore I will not call thy sacred transformation ‘death’, but ‘rest’ or ‘going home’, and it is more truly a going home. Putting off corporeal things, thou dwellest in a happier state.

[…] O how did heaven receive her who is greater than heaven? How did she, who had received God, descend into the grave? This truly happened, and she was held by the tomb.

[…] O sacred and wonderful, holy and worshipful body, ministered to now by angels, standing by in lowly reverence.

Demons tremble: men approach with faith, honouring and worshipping her, greeting her with eyes and lips, and drawing down upon themselves abundant blessings.

Just as a rich scent sprinkled upon clothes or places, leaves its fragrance even after it has been withdrawn, so now that holy, undefiled, and divine body, filled with heavenly fragrance, the rich source of grace, is laid in the tomb that it may be translated to a higher and better place.

Nor did she leave the grave empty; her body imparted to it a divine fragrance, a source of healing, and of all good for those who approach it with faith.

John Damascene (c.675-749): Homily 1 on the Dormition of the Theotokos @ Monachos.net.