We celebrate the Dormition of the Virgin as the transitus of Mary, the Holy Theotokos from death to Life. Mary who willingly gave her human nature to God, now receives the perfection of eternal life. In beholding her, we can see our own future.
With the Church we pray Troparion (Tone 1):
“In giving birth you preserved your virginity. In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos. You were translated to life O Mother of Life, and by your prayers you deliver our souls from death.”
In his Homily on the Dormition, St. John Damascene makes the Tomb of Mary talk:
“Why do you seek in the tomb what has been assumed into heaven? Why do you exact from me an account of her dissolution? I had no power to go against the divine command. Leaving the wind ing sheet, that holy and sacred body, which filled me with myrrh, sweet fragrance and holiness, has been caught up and has departed with all the powers of heaven accompanying it.
“Now the Angels keep watch over me. Now the divine grace dwells in me. I have become a well of healing for the sick, a defense against demons, a refuge to those who fly to me. Draw near in faith, you people, and you will receive grace in streams.” (cf. Hom. on Dorm. II, 17)
Our parish is celebrating today’s feast with the Divine Liturgy being offered at 10 a.m. with the Blessing of Herbs
Fresco from Gračanica Monastery in Kosovo, Serbia c. 1321
The Divine Liturgy for the feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, the Holy Theotokos will be served at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, August 15. There will be the blessing of flowers and herbs for the feast day.
“When we hear someone speak about the Ark of the Covenant from the Old Testament, oftentimes we think of modern depictions, of movies, or books, and especially the biblical accounts that present us with a fearful, awesome, and even wrathful picture. We recall that about the wooden box, which was covered with pure gold, God spoke to Moses from the mercy seat in between two cherubim. … How then might we, who are grass and made of earthen clay, begin to discourse and contemplate the living Ark of God, the Most-holy Theotokos, who was the fulfillment and the awesome reality of which the Ark of the Old Testament was merely a shadow? … This present awesome and glorious mystery is something which is not a subject for speculation, for human logic, or for vain tampering. It is a tremendous mystery that is hidden and only revealed when it is humbly received from within the light of the depths of the Church’s tradition. This feast is immensely joyful and life-giving for those who with child-like faith and without argument seek to enter into its festivities. … Those who have prepared themselves with fasting and prayer and by being present at today’s festivities, the tomb of the Mother of God is joy; it is life and it is a light-covered mountain for our spiritual ascent today.
Today she, like the Ark of the Old Covenant, goes before us as a banner of victory, a wall of defense and forerunner of the fulfillment of all of God’s promises to all mankind. Having now crossed the frontier which separates us from the age to come, through her bodily ascent to heaven, she has become the highest of all creation, and the realization of the end for which humanity was created. She is the fulfillment of all beauty and virtue and is a universal advocate for all before the throne of God, now and at the second coming.” (Acquiring the Mind of Christ: Embracing the Vision of the Orthodox Church, Archimandrite Sergius (Bowyer), pp. 129-131)
Our Summer Pascha
Since August 1, we have been preparing for the great feast of Mary, the Mother of God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
“This period is so rich in opportunities for prayer and worship that it has traditionally been called our “Summer Pascha.” The Transfiguration celebrates Christ as the radiant Light of the Father’s glory while in the Dormition we see Christ, who trampled down Death by His death, take His Mother into the light of His resurrection. In many churches a service resembling the Matins of Holy Saturday is held in which the shroud of the Theotokos is carried in procession to recall her burial.”
The bilingual Divine Liturgy will be served on Saturday, August 15, at 9:00 a.m. with the Blessing of Herbs. and Flowers. The Liturgy will be livestreamed.
Father Paul Luniw served the Divine Liturgy and blessed flowers and herbs for the Dormition Feast. Father Stepan did similarly at the morning Liturgy.
“While she lived on this earth,, Mary could only be close to a few people. Being in God, who is close to us, actually, “within” all of us, Mary shares in this closeness of God. Being in God and with God, she is close to each one of us, knows our hearts, can hear our prayers, can help us with her motherly kindness and has been given to us, as the Lord said, precisely as a “mother” to whom we can turn at every moment.” Benedict XVI
On Thursday, August 15, the Dormition of our most Holy Lady and the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary, a holy of LOVE, the Divine Liturgy will be served at:
~The 10am Liturgy in Ukrainian will be served by Fr. Stepan Yanovsky
~The 7pm Liturgy in English will be served by Fr. Paul Luniw
At both Liturgies Father will bless herbs and flowers in honor of the Dormition.
Join us in worship of God.
Blessing of Herbs and Flowers on the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God –August 15
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy tonight, Father Iura blessed herbs and flowers brought by the faithful for our feast. Why is this part of our Tradition?
Holy Tradition reveals to us that the Apostles, with the exception of St. Thomas, were transported mystically to Jerusalem in order to be with Mary, the Mother of God –the Theotokos– as she about to repose, and to be present at her burial. When the Apostle Thomas arrived the next day, the Apostles opened the tomb so that he could pay her reverence. The opened tomb revealed the body of the Virgin was missing, and filled with herbs and flowers interpreted as the sweet fragrance of Paradise. The faithful see this a certain sign of Mary’s purity and holiness.
Her passing is commemorated as the Dormition (the falling asleep) which is observed on August 15 preceded by a preparatory fast. The death of Mary’s body doesn’t last as she is believed to be body and soul, physically living the Most Holy Trinity in heaven.
As part of our celebration of Dormition, therefore, the priest blesses herbs and flowers which are used and kept in the homes. The blessing recalls for us the numerous cures and healings given to us by an extraordinary grace bestowed by the Mother of God. Holy Tradition and practice tells us that the herbs are used as natural medicine. During times of family strife or illness, it is a pious custom to place the flower petals in the house censer, together with the incense, and cense the whole house with it.
“Come, all you ends of the earth, let us praise the blessed passing of the Mother of God. She delivers her sinless soul into the hands of her Son; through her holy Dormition, the world is given new life.” (Stichera at the Litija)
The feast of the birth of John the Baptist is sometimes called the summer Christmas, so also the Dormition (falling-asleep) of the Mother of God might be called the summer Pascha. In both these feasts the cosmic change accomplished by the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God is seen in the lives of human beings, for in Christ the order of mortality is overturned. In the mystery of Mary’s falling-asleep, we see our sinfulness is over-written by the sinless one, who in obedience turns over her “sinless soul” to the incarnate God.
The Gospel today is a story not about Mary, the Theotokos, but about Mary of Bethany, but the words addressed by God to her sister Martha become iconic for all human beings: “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (Luke 10:42). What has she chosen? To sit at the feet of our Lord, to put Jesus at the center of her life, and to listen to him. This is Mary’s eternal mission, as she tells the stewards at the wedding in Cana: “Do whatever he (Jesus, her Son) tells you” (John 2:5). This is the mystery the ends of the earth celebrate today, for it has transformed the meaning of human life, and “through he holy Dormition, the world is given new life.”
Mediation by Archpriest David Petras
On Wednesday, August 15, Church celebrates feast of The Dormition of Our Holy Lady, The Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary (a Holy Day of obligation).
The Divine Liturgy will be served:
9:00 a.m. (in Ukrainian) with the Blessing of flowers and with Myrovann
7:00 p.m. (in English) with the Blessing of flowers and with Myrovann
***Bring herbs and flowers for blessing at the Liturgy as is traditional.
Dance with joy, O peoples! / Clap your hands with gladness! / Gather today with fervor and jubilation; / sing with exultation. / The Mother of God is about to rise in glory, / ascending from earth to heaven. / We ceaselessly praise her in song as truly Theotokos. (Troparion, Tone 4)
Today the universe dances with joy at your glorious memorial, / and cries out to you, O Mother of God: / “Rejoice, O Virgin, pride of Christians!” (Kontakion, Tone 4)
We ought to attend to the highlighted portions of the above verses!