Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Dormition of Our Lady

It had been handed down to us from of old, that at the time of the glorious passing of Our Lady, all the holy Apostles, who were then toilling in various parts of the world for the salvation of mankind, were in an instant caught up into the air, and borne together to Jerusalem. There a vision of angels appeared to them, and they heard the chant of the Angelic Powers. And thus with glory to God, she yielded up her blessed soul into the hands of her Maker. As for her body, which in an ineffable manner had harbored God, it was carried out for burial amidst the hymns of Angels and of the Apostles, and was laid ina tomb in Getsemani, and for three days the songs of Angels continued without ceasing.

At the end of the three daysm the melody of the Angels ceased, and Thomas, who alone had been absent, having come on the third day, and desiring to pay homage to that body which had harbored God, the Apostles opened the tomb, but search as they would, nowhere could they discover the sacred body. They found only the clothes in which it had been enshrouded and being refreshed with the ineffable fragbrance which proceeded from them, they once more closed the tomb. Astounded at the extraordinary and mysterious event, they could but conclude, that He Whom it had pleased to take flesh of the Virgin Mary, and of her to be made Man and to be born - though He was God the Word and the Lord of glory - and Who kept her virginity unimpaired even after childbirth, had also been pleased, upon her departure hence, to shield her sinless body from decay, and to honor it by removal hence before the common and universal resurrection. There were present then together with the Apostles, the most holy Timothy, the first Bishop of the Ephesians, and Dionysius the Areopagite, as he himself attests in what he wrote to the aforesaid Timothy with reference to Blessed Hieromtheus, who was also present on that occasion. ("Once he had spoken, any further speech is out of place," so the Areopagite), "for even among our Divinely inspired Pontiffs he shone, as you yourself were witness, when, as you remember, we also and many of our holy brethren had come together to view the body which had given birth to Life, and harbored God. There were present James, the brother of the Lord, and Peter, supreme head and eldest of theologians, and having seen the sacred body,we were all pleased to chant , as each one might, the praises of the infinite goodness and power of God.

St. John Damascene, Doctor of the Church

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