Dormition of the Theotokos (2022) 

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And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48)

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St Andrew of Crete (d. Ca. 725AD) comments on the Dormition of the Theotokos, which already had a well developed theological and homiletic tradition by the time he lived. Here he stands in awe that a woman entered the heavenly sanctuary – the Holy of Holies.  He recognizes her as being “more honorable than the Cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim.” That a human could attain such a rank was miraculous in his eyes, but that it was a woman who did this is beyond understanding for him. It does tell us that despite all the angelology of the Patristic writers, humans remain God’s centerpiece in creation – the ones who will be united to the Holy Trinity, while angels will always be God’s servants and messengers whose purpose in life is to serve humanity.  Humans become deified, not angels. Only a woman could be Theotokos, neither angels nor males nor the most ascetic monks could ever attain her status.

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“It is truly a new spectacle, never before conceived of: a woman who surpasses the heavens in purity of nature enters the holy tabernacle of the heavenly sanctuary; a virgin, who surpasses the very nature of the Seraphim by the miracle of giving birth to God, draws near to God, the first of natures and begetter of all things; a mother, who has brought forth life itself, produces an ending of her own life to match that of her Son. It is a miracle worthy both of God and of our faith! For as her womb was not corrupted in giving birth, so her flesh did not perish in dying. But a miracle!”   (ON THE DORMITION OF MARY, p 110)

The two main hymns for the Feast marvel at the mystery of who Mary is.

 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. (Troparion)

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Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos, who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. For being the Mother of Life, she was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb. (Kontakion)

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