Ser­mon on the Feast of the Dor­mi­tion of the Moth­er of God
by Monk-Sub­dea­con Theodore
August 15/28, 2020

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spir­it. Amen.

Dear broth­ers and sisters!

Today we are gath­ered before the tomb of the Most Blessed Theotokos and Ever-Vir­gin Mary, not to weep in lamen­ta­tion at our loss, but rather to rejoice in our gain, and the gain of all cre­ation, for today she is assumed into heav­en to take her right­ful and most hon­ored place beside her Son in the heav­en­ly man­sions. Tru­ly, broth­ers and sis­ters, is this not a great mys­tery? The ranks of the holy angels, who had once gazed in rev­er­en­tial awe when their Mas­ter and Lord entered through the gates of heav­en at His glo­ri­ous Ascen­sion, garbed in the flesh of His cre­ation, now again gaze in awe as the fore­most of the Master’s ser­vants – His all-blessed and most pure Moth­er – is tak­en into the divine throne room on high, borne in the arms of her Son.

No rational person can countenance that she who bore God Himself in her womb should suffer corruption.

  How can this be a gain and not a loss? Has not our great inter­ces­sor been tak­en from this world? Has she not been ele­vat­ed high­er than the angel­ic hosts? Indeed this is case, but as the Theotokos has been tak­en up to the high­est dig­ni­ty and great­est hon­or, so too has our own human nature been grant­ed this very same dig­ni­ty. As Saint Paul tells us in today’s Epis­tle, our human nature has been high­ly exalt­ed by God through Our Lord’s tak­ing upon Him­self of our flesh, the very flesh in which He suf­fered and tast­ed of death for our sake. From where did He take this flesh? From where did He take His very human­i­ty, that human nature which has been exalt­ed? From His All-Pure Moth­er! Is it not only right that she should then be exalt­ed and glo­ri­fied in the heights? No ratio­nal per­son, Saint Gre­go­ry Pala­mas tells us, can coun­te­nance that she who bore God Him­self in her womb should suf­fer cor­rup­tion. As we sing in church on this glo­ri­ous feast, she has been “tak­en to the Life, because she is the Moth­er of Life.” This, then, is our great gain, because she has become “our cer­tain hope in her inter­ces­sions,” being “untir­ing in her supplications.”

We know that it is in fact the Theotokos who most resembles her divine Son, because through the purity of her life, her chastity of body and soul, the strength and vigor of her prayer, she truly attained to His likeness.

  That the Lord took His human nature exclu­sive­ly from His Moth­er again shows us the true great­ness of her who is unceas­ing in her prayers. Being with­out a human father, the Lord’s phys­i­cal resem­blance to His Moth­er would have been pro­found and even star­tling to those who would have seen them. They would have said that He was the one Who most resem­bled His Moth­er. How­ev­er, we know that it is in fact the Theotokos who most resem­bles her divine Son, because through the puri­ty of her life, her chasti­ty of body and soul, the strength and vig­or of her prayer, she tru­ly attained to the like­ness – that is, the high­ly exalt­ed state of virtue and holi­ness — of Him Who cre­at­ed her in His image. This state of virtue and holi­ness was so high that the young maid­en Mary was deemed wor­thy to become the very tem­ple of God – not an inan­i­mate tem­ple of wood, stone, and gold, but an ani­mate tem­ple of body, soul, and spir­it. In fact, she became the very ful­fill­ment of the Old Tes­ta­ment and its com­ple­tion, being “the jar, the staff, the tables of the law, the ark, the can­dle­stick, the table, the moun­tain uncloven, the gold­en censer, the taber­na­cle, the gate impass­able, the palace, the lad­der, and the throne of kings.” If the Theotokos attained to such glo­ries on earth, even more so must be the glo­ry that she received in the heav­ens when she ascend­ed to be reunit­ed to her Son!

Instead of her Guardian Angel, her very own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, came to receive her soul into heaven.

  The holy tra­di­tion of the Church tells us what tran­spired in those great days when the Ever-Vir­gin Mary was trans­lat­ed to the heav­ens. The Apos­tles, being called from the four cor­ners of the earth, gath­ered by her bed­side to say farewell to her who had become their very own Moth­er, being as she is the Moth­er of all Chris­tians. Instead of her Guardian Angel, her very own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ Him­self, came to receive her soul into heav­en. Three days lat­er, through the prov­i­den­tial late arrival of the Holy Apos­tle Thomas, it was revealed to the gath­ered Church that the Theotokos’ body had been raised up from death and reunit­ed with her soul in heav­en. Just like her Son, then, the Moth­er of God dwells bod­i­ly in the heav­ens, hav­ing tast­ed the full fruits of sal­va­tion before the rest of mankind. She is already vest­ed in that glo­ry that we – by God’s mer­cy – may receive after we are raised on the Last Day to face the fear­some judge­ment seat of Christ. She already dwells in the New Jerusalem of the Lord. She is high­er than all the heav­en­ly hosts, “more hon­or­able than the cheru­bim, and beyond com­pare more glo­ri­ous than the seraphim” and has become the Queen of all cre­ation, stand­ing at her Son’s right hand, vest­ed in diverse col­ors, as the Psalmist says.

We give her glory, because she glorifies and is glorified by her Son. We give her thanks, because she is the mediator of her Son’s grace. We love her, because she has become our mother.

  It is pre­cise­ly for this rea­son, then, that we rejoice with exceed­ing glad­ness today when we behold her ascent on high, for, as Saint Gre­go­ry con­tin­ues, “she sends bright shafts of holy light and grace down to earth,” for “all progress towards the man­i­fes­ta­tion of divine light, every rev­e­la­tion of divine mys­ter­ies, and all forms of spir­i­tu­al gifts are beyond everyone’s grasp with­out her.” Just as God came to us through the Theotokos, we are now brought to God through her pow­er­ful and fer­vent inter­ces­sions. This is why she is such an impor­tant fig­ure in our spir­i­tu­al and litur­gi­cal life as Ortho­dox Chris­tians. She is our great exam­ple, the goal which we set out to attain, and we com­mem­o­rate her more fre­quent­ly than any oth­er saint – almost every day has a com­mem­o­ra­tion of the Theotokos or one of her many mirac­u­lous icons, and every litany ends by call­ing her to remem­brance. We give her glo­ry, because she glo­ri­fies and is glo­ri­fied by her Son. We give her thanks, because she is the medi­a­tor of her Son’s grace. We love her, because she has become our moth­er. Enthroned in heav­en with her Son, she is quick to hear our prayers, fer­vent in inter­ces­sions, and a great fount of mir­a­cles for us, the unworthy.

For She is a great intercessor in heaven, a champion leader on earth, and the protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame.

  It is to the Theotokos and her prayers, then, that we must flee in times of tribu­la­tion, temp­ta­tion, and sor­row. Are we not liv­ing in such times? Death-bear­ing pesti­lence, vio­lent civ­il unrest, eco­nom­ic uncer­tain­ty, the ongo­ing degra­da­tion of moral­i­ty and decen­cy, and – worst of all – the con­tin­u­ing holo­caust of unborn chil­dren. I don’t use the term holo­caust light­ly. Just as the pagans and apos­tates of old sac­ri­ficed their chil­dren to the false gods of Moloch and Baal as a whole-burnt offer­ing, so too do we see our con­tem­po­raries – blind­ed by the lies and deceit of the prince of this world – sac­ri­fice their chil­dren to the new Moloch and Baal, the false gods of mate­ri­al­ism, con­ve­nience, and expe­di­en­cy. Yes – it is a sac­ri­fice, but one that brings nei­ther redemp­tion nor life. The Right­eous Joachim and Anna made their own sac­ri­fice, a more wor­thy form of sac­ri­fice, when they brought their daugh­ter to the Tem­ple and today we see the fruits of this right­eous offer­ing – a great inter­ces­sor in heav­en, a cham­pi­on leader on earth, and the pro­tec­tion of Chris­tians that can­not be put to shame.

The Theotokos is the antithesis of this mob of criminals. Not being able to comprehend the light, the darkness is driven to try and destroy it.

  The All-Holy Vir­gin also reject­ed con­ve­nience and expe­di­en­cy when she – as a young maid­en – accept­ed the divine voca­tion to bear the Word of God in her immac­u­late womb. It would have been easy to say no to the archangel, as easy as it is to walk into an abor­tion clin­ic today – those clin­ics that, accord­ing to our demon­i­cal­ly-inspired civ­il author­i­ties, are ‘life-pre­serv­ing,’ words spo­ken by the same forked tongues that call for our church­es to close in order to pre­vent death, the same snakes that demand that we polite­ly dis­tance our­selves from our broth­ers and sis­ters in Christ, while our towns and cities are sub­ject to town hall-approved loot­ing and pil­lage by mobs of sav­ages and bar­bar­ians. It is no sur­prise that, dur­ing this surge in mind­less vio­lence, sev­er­al icons and stat­ues of the Theotokos have been des­e­crat­ed: being the pin­na­cle of puri­ty, chasti­ty, obe­di­ence, humil­i­ty, virtue, piety, and wis­dom, the Theotokos is the antithe­sis of this mob of crim­i­nals. Not being able to com­pre­hend the light, the dark­ness is dri­ven to try and destroy it.

Her vocation was to be ever-present at her Son’s Passion, watching His tortures, His suffering, His mockery, His humiliation, His Crucifixion, and His death.

  What kind of hell are we liv­ing in? Must we suf­fer these indig­ni­ties? Must we under­go such humil­i­a­tion? Unfor­tu­nate­ly we must. As the Theotokos reject­ed the easy life, so too must we. She accept­ed the call to become the Moth­er of the Cru­ci­fied One. Her voca­tion was to be ever-present at her Son’s Pas­sion, watch­ing His tor­tures, His suf­fer­ing, His mock­ery, His humil­i­a­tion, His Cru­ci­fix­ion, and His death. She stood by the Cross when all oth­ers had gone. For her faith­ful­ness, the Lord said to her: “Woman, behold thy son!” and gave all of mankind to her pro­tec­tion. For her faith­ful­ness, she was the first to behold the glo­ri­ous Res­ur­rec­tion of her Son. For her faith­ful­ness, she was the first to receive the full­ness of sal­va­tion from God. A sword did indeed pierce her soul, as the holy Sime­on fore­told, but her many sor­rows were assuaged by the glo­ry vouch­safed to her for her faith and per­se­ver­ance — the glo­ry of eter­ni­ty in the heav­en­ly man­sions with her Son.

Let us then hasten to call upon the name of the Ever-Virgin Theotokos Mary.

  There­fore, we too must per­se­vere. We too must suf­fer. We too must be humil­i­at­ed. But we per­se­vere and suf­fer know­ing that the Theotokos is a con­stant aid and pro­tec­tress in times of trou­ble. She hears our prayers and brings them to her Son, our God and, as Saint Max­imus the Con­fes­sor tells us, He responds by telling her that “every soul that calls on your name with holi­ness will not be put to shame but will find mer­cy and com­fort both in this life and the age to come.”

Let us then has­ten to call upon the name of the Ever-Vir­gin Theotokos Mary in this time of tribu­la­tion and uncer­tain­ty, know­ing full well that she will come to our aid, assist us, pro­tect us, and bring us to her Son for the sal­va­tion of our souls. Come then, and let us approach the holy chal­ice and receive that most pure Body that the Lord took from her and the most pre­cious blood that He received from her, being con­fi­dent that, through the prayers of the Theotokos, we can be made wor­thy to par­take of these awe­some mys­ter­ies, both now and into the end­less ages. Let us cry out, know­ing that the Lord will not refuse his Mother’s pleas, MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS, SAVE US!

Amen.

Sup­port Ortho­dox Life @ Patre­on