The Dormition of the Theotokos (2012)

On August 15 the Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos.  We commemorate her death in this world of the Fall but recognize that through her bearing the Incarnate God in her womb she shared the blood of Christ before His Last Supper with His disciples.  Thus not only poetically but theologically she shared in the salvation of Her Son, the reunion of divinity with humanity, from the beginning of His conception in her womb.  The feasts of the Theotokos are thus all extremely Christological, yet recognizing the role humanity had to play in working out its salvation with the God who became incarnate.

“The Church’s celebration of the end of the earthly life of the Mother of God probably began in Jerusalem, where the tomb of Mary in the Gethsemane area is still a place of pilgrimage; by the sixth century the Feast was widely observed, and by about 600 A.D. the date had been fixed as 15th August. In current Orthodox practice the Feast is preceded by a fast from 1st August to the one day of Forefeast on 14th August; eight days of Afterfeast complete the festival. Two separate strands in the celebration can be seen: first, the death and burial of the Mother of God, and second, her Resurrection/Ascension/Assumption into heaven.” (John Baggley, Festival Icons for the Christian Year, pgs. 160-161)

Chrysostom: Creation’s Witness to God

St. John Chrysostom commenting on Romans 1:19-20 echoes St. Paul’s claim that nature itself is a witness to God and God’s love for His creation.  Chrysostom says:

“Paul says, what can be known about God is plain to them. How was this clear? Did God  send them a voice from above? Not at all! Rather, Paul introduced creation itself into the  argument, which could draw them to God more effectively than a voice.

Through the creation  the wise and the ignorant, the Scythians and the barbarians, are able to climb up to  God, learning of God through the beauty of visible things….

The prophet said, The  heavens declare the glory of God (Ps 19:1).

What will the Greeks say on that day? Might  they say to God, “We did not know you”? To this, God could respond, “So did you not hear the voice of the heavens speaking through what could be seen?

Did you not hear the  voice in the order and harmony of all things blaring out more clearly than a trumpet?

Did you not see the laws of night and day in place always without change?

Did you not  see the good order of winter, spring, and the other seasons, always stable and predictable?

Did you not see the steadiness of the sea despite its great turbulence and waves?

Did you  not see that all things remain well ordered and by their beauty and grandeur proclaim the  creator?

Paul brought together all these things, and many more, when he said, Ever since  the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they  are, have been understood and seen though the things he has made. 

(St. John Chrysostom commenting on Romans 1:19-20, in  Romans: Interpreted by Early Christian Commentators, ed. J. Patout Burns Jr., Kindle Loc. 845-53)

See Also In Praise of God our Creator and Augustine: Creation’s Witness to God.

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