Old Calendar Orthodox Daily Digest for 8/28/2021

Fasting Guidelines

10th Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Today is fast-free!

Scripture Readings

Luke 1:39-49, 56 (Matins Gospel)
Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. 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. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name. And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her house.

Philippians 2:5-11(Epistle, Theotokos)
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Luke 10:38-42; 11:27-28 (Gospel, Theotokos)
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her. And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today

Reverence list of the Dormition Icon of the Mother of God: “Kievo-Pechersk” (1073), “Ovinovsk” (1425), “Pskov-Pechersk” (1472), “Semigorodnaya” (15th c.) and “Piukhtitsk” (16th c.).
This wonderworking icon representing the Dormition of the Mother of God
was written by the Venerable Dionysius the Deaf in the XV century. Brought by
hermits from its monastery it was put into the parish church of the Semigorodny
District, beyond the Dvinsk River. After the terrible plague that devastated the
Vologda District in XV century, the church stood in desolation for about 150 years.
In 1593, through a special vision, the Starets Julian, from the family of Beloozero
noblemen, found the icon and constructed a monastery on the spot where the holy
icon was found. Now the icon is in the Tupichev Monastery, Mogilev Diocese. The
icon is celebrated on the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

“Mosdok” (13th c.), “Atskursk” (1st. c.), “Tsilkansk” (4th c.), “Vlakhernsk” (Georgia), “Vladimirsko-Rostovsky” (12th c.), Gaenatsky (13th c.), “Bakhchisaraysk”, “Chukhlomsk” (14th c.), “Surdegsk” (1530), “Tupichevsk” (17th c.) Icons of the Mother of God.
      The Icon of the
Mother of God of Galich-Chukhlomsk “Tenderness” [Umilenie]
appeared in the year 1350 to the Monk Avraam of Galich, having come there from
the north for ascetic deeds with the blessing of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh.
On the wild shores of the Galich lake near the large mountain, hidden in the
dense forest, he turned with prayer to the Mother of God, asking Her blessing
for his labours. After prayer the monk sat at rest and suddenly there appeared
on the nearby mountainside a bright light and he heard a voice: “Avraam,
come up the mountain, where is set an icon of My Mother”. The monk went up
the mountain where the light shone, and indeed on a tree found an icon of the
Mother of God with the Praeternal Infant. With tenderness and in gratitude to
God, the holy ascetic took the revealed image and, strengthened by prayers to
the MostHoly Mother of God, he built a the blessed place a chapel, in which he
put the icon. After a certain length of time the Galich prince Dimitrii
Feodorovich, having learned about a trip of the elder, turned to him with a
request to bring the icon. The Monk Avraam rowed across the Galich lake in a
boat and, accompanied by clergy and a throng of people, he took the
wonderworking icon to the cathedral church of the city of Galich. On this day a
large number of the sick were healed from this icon. When the Monk Avraam told
about the appearance of the icon, the prince offered money for the building of
a monastery. Soon there was built a church in honour of the Dormition of the
MostHoly Mother of God, around which arose a monastery. Afterwards the Monk
Avraam founded several more monasteries, the last being founded was the
Chukhlomsk, not far from the city of Chukloma, – from the name of this
monastery the ascetic was named “of Chukhlomsk”, and the
wonderworking icon took on the name “Galich-Chukhlomsk. The commemoration
of this icon is also on 28 May and 15 August.

The Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary .
      The
“Falling-Asleep” or “Repose” (“Dormition”,
“Uspenie”, “Koimesis”) of our MostHoly Lady Mother of God
and Ever-Virgin Mary: After the Ascension of the Lord, the Mother of God
remained in the care of the Apostle John the Theologian, and during his
journeyings She lived at the home of his parents, near Mount Eleon (the Mount
of Olives, or Mount Olivet). She was a source of consolation and edification
for both the Apostles and for all the believers. Conversing with them, She told
them about miraculous happenings: the Annuniciation (Blagoveschenie), the
Conception (Zachatie) without seed and without defilement of Christ born of
Her, about His early childhood, and about all His earthly life. And just like
the Apostles, She helped plant and strengthen the Christian Church by Her
presence, Her discourse and Her prayers. The reverence of the Apostles for the
MostHoly Virgin was extraordinary. After the receiving of the Holy Spirit on
the remarkable day of Pentecost, the Apostles remained basically at Jerusalem
for about 10 years attending to the salvation of the Jews, and wanting
moreover to see the Mother of God and hear Her holy discourse. Many of the
newly-enlightened in the faith even came from faraway lands to Jerusalem, to
see and to hear the All-Pure Mother of God.
      During the time of
the persecution, initiated by king Herod against the young Church of Christ
(Acts 12: 1-3), the MostHoly Virgin together with the Apostle John the
Theologian withdrew in the year 43 to Ephesus. The preaching of the Gospel
there had fallen by lot to the Apostle John the Theologian. The Mother of God
was likewise on Cyprus with Saint Lazarus the Four-Days-Entombed, where he was
bishop. She was also on Holy Mount Athos, about which, as says Saint Stephen
Svyatogorets (i.e. Saint Stephen of the “Holy Mount”), the Mother of
God prophetically spoke: “This place shalt be allotted Me, given unto Me
by My Son and My God. I wilt be the Patroness for this place and Intercessor to
God for it”.
      The respect of
ancient Christians for the Mother of God was so great, that they preserved what
they could about Her life, what they could take note of concerning Her sayings
and deeds, and they even passed down to us the regards of Her outward
appearance.
      According to
tradition, based on the words of the PriestMartyrs Dionysios the Areopagite (+
3 October 96), Ignatios the God-Bearer (+ 20 December 107), – Sainted Ambrose
of Mediolanum-Milan (Comm. 7 December) had occasion to write in his work
“On Virgins” concerning the Mother of God: “She was the Virgin
not only of body, but also of soul, humble of heart, circumspect in word, wise in
mind, not overly given to speaking, a lover of reading and of work, and prudent
in speech. Her rule of life was – offend no one, intend well for everyone,
respect the aged, be not envious of others, avoid bragging, be healthy of mind,
and love virtue. When did She ever in the least hurl an insult in the face of
Her parents, when was She at discord with Her kin? When did She ever puff up
haughtily before a modest person, or laugh at the weak, or shun the destitute?
With Her there was nothing of glaring eyes, nothing of unseemly words, nor of
improper conduct: She was modest of body-movement, Her step was quiet, and Her
voice straightforward; – such that Her bodily visage was an expression of
soul, and personification of purity. All Her days She was concerned with
fasting: She slept only when necessary, and even then, when Her body was at
rest, She was still alert in spirit, repeating in Her dreams what She had read,
or the pondered implementation of proposed intentions, or those planned yet
anew. She was out of Her house only for church, and then only in the company of
kin. Otherwise, She but little appeared outside Her house in the company of
others, and She was Her own best overseer; others could protect Her only in
body, but She Herself guarded Her character”. [trans. note: In context, we
must realise that Saint Ambrose wrote this discourse in exhortation to young
women to conduct themselves maturely and with concern for the reputation of
their good-name, an exhortation equally incumbent upon young men].
      According to
tradition, that from the compiler of Church history Nicephoros Kallistos (XIV
Century), the Mother of God “was of average stature, or as others suggest,
slightly more than average; Her hair golden in appearance; Her eyes bright with
pupils like shiny olives; Her eyebrows strong in character and moderately dark,
Her nose pronounced and Her mouth vibrant bespeaking sweet speech; Her face was
neither round nor angular, but somewhat oblong; the palm of Her Hands and
fingers were longish… In conversation with others She preserved decorum,
neither becoming silly nor agitated, and indeed especially never angry; without
artifice, and direct, She was not overly concerned about Herself, and far from
any pampering of Herself, She was distinctly full of humility. Regarding the
clothing which She wore, She was satisfied to have natural colours, which even
now is evidenced by Her holy head-covering. Suffice it to say, an especial
grace attended all Her actions”. (Nicephoros Kallistos borrowed his description
from Sainted Epiphanios of Cyprus, + 12 May 403, from the “Letter to
Theophilos concerning icons”.
      The circumstances of
the Falling-Asleep or Dormition of the Mother of God were known in the Orthodox
Church from times apostolic. Already in the I Century, the PriestMartyr
Dionysios the Areopagite wrote about Her “Falling-Asleep”. In the II Century,
the account about the bodily Assumption of the MostHoly Virgin Mary to Heaven
is found in the works of Meliton, Bishop of Sardis. In the IV Century, Saint
Epiphanios of Cyprus refers to the tradition about the
“Falling-Asleep” of the Mother of God. In the V Century Sainted
Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, told the holy Byzantine empress Pulcheria:
“Although in Holy Scripture there be no account about the circumstances of
Her end, we know about them otherwise from the most ancient and credible
tradition”. This tradition in detail was gathered and expounded in the
Church history of Nicephoros Kallistos during the XIV Century.
      At the time of Her
blessed “Falling-Asleep”, the MostHoly Virgin Mary was again at
Jerusalem. Her fame as the Mother of God had already spread throughout the land
and had aroused against Her many of the envious and the spiteful, who wanted to
make attempts on Her life; but God preserved Her from enemies.
      Day and night She
spent at prayer. The MostHoly Mother of God went often to the Holy Sepulchre of
the Lord, and here She offered up incense and the bending of knees. More than
once enemies of the Saviour sought to hinder Her from visiting her holy place,
and they besought of the high-priest a guard to watch over the Grave of the
Lord. But the Holy Virgin Mary, unseen by anyone, continued to pray in front of
them. In one suchlike visit to Golgotha, the Archangel Gabriel appeared before
Her and announced Her approaching transfer from this life into the Heavenly
life of eternal beatitude. In pledge of this, the Archangel entrusted Her a
palm branch. With these Heavenly tidings the Mother of God returned to
Bethlehem with the three girls attending Her (Sepphora, Evigea and Zoila). She
thereupon summoned Righteous Joseph of Aramathea and other disciples of the
Lord, and told them of Her impending Repose (Uspenie). The MostHoly Virgin
prayed also, that the Lord would have the Apostle John come to Her. And the
Holy Spirit transported him from Ephesus, setting him alongside that very
place, where lay the Mother of God. After the prayer, the MostHoly Virgin
offered up incense, and John heard a voice from Heaven, closing Her prayer with
the word “Amen”. The Mother of God took notice, that this voice meant
the speedy arrival of the Apostles and the Disciples and the holy Bodiless
Powers. The Disciples, whose number then it was impossible to count, flocked
together, – says Saint John Damascene, – like clouds and eagles, to hearken
to the Mother of God. Seeing one another, the Disciples rejoiced, but in their
confusion they asked each other, why had the Lord gathered them together in one
place? Saint John the Theologian, greeting them with tears of joy, said that
for the Mother of God had begun the time of repose unto the Lord. Going in to
the Mother of God, they beheld Her augustly lying upon the cot, and filled with
spiritual happiness. The Disciples gave greeting to Her, and then they told
about their being miraculously transported from their places of preaching. The
MostHoly Virgin Mary glorified God, in that He had hearkened to Her prayer and
fulfilled Her heart’s desire, and She began speaking about Her immanent end.
During the time of this conversation the Apostle Paul likewise appeared in
miraculous manner together with his disciples: Dionysios the Areopagite,
wondrous Hierotheos, and Timothy and others from amongst the Seventy Disciples.
The Holy Spirit had gathered them all together, so that they might be
vouchsafed the blessing of the All-Pure Virgin Mary, and all the more fittingly
to see to the burial of the Mother of the Lord. Each of them She called to
Herself by name, She blessed them and extolled them in their faith and
hardships in the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, and to each She wished
eternal bliss and prayed with them for the peace and welfare of all the world.
      There ensued the
third hour, when the Uspenie-Repose of the Mother of God was to occur. A
multitude of candles blazed. The holy Disciples with song encircled the
felicitously adorned sick-bed, upon which lay the All-Pure Virgin Mother of
God. She prayed in anticipation of Her demise and of the arrival of Her
longed-for Son and Lord. Suddenly the inexpressible Light of Divine Glory shone
forth, before which the blazing candles paled in comparison. All that saw took
fright. Sitting atop as though immersed in the rays of the indescribable Light,
was Christ the King of Glory Himself come down, surrounded by hosts of Angels
and Archangels and other Heavenly Powers, together with the souls of the
fore-fathers and the prophets, formerly having foretold of the MostHoly Virgin
Mary. Seeing Her Son, the Mother of God exclaimed: “My soul doth magnify
My Lord, and My spirit rejoiceth in God My Saviour, for He hath regarded the
lowliness of His Handmaiden” – and, getting up from Her bed to meet the
Lord, She bowed down to Him. And the Lord bid Her come enter the habitations of
Life Eternal. Without any bodily suffering, as though in an happy sleep, the
MostHoly Virgin Mary gave up Her soul into the hands of Her Son and God.
      Then began joyous
Angelic song. Accompanying the pure soul of the God-betrothed and with reverent
awe for the Queen of Heaven, the Angels exclaimed: “Hail Thou,
Full-of-Grace, the Lord is with Thee, blessed art Thou amongst women! For lo,
it be the Queen, God’s Maiden doth come, take up the gates, and with the
Ever-Existent take ye up the Mother of Light; for of Her is salvation come to
all the human race. Upon Her tis impossible to gaze and to Her tis impossible
to render due honour” (Stikherion verse on “Lord, I have
cried”). The Heavenly gates were raised, and meeting the soul of the
MostHoly Mother of God, the Cherubim and the Seraphim with joy glorified Her.
The graced face of the Mother of God was radiant with the glory of Divine
virginity, and of Her body there exuded fragrance.
      Miraculous was the
life of the All-Pure Virgin, and wondrous was Her Repose, as Holy Church doth
sing: “In Thee, O Queen, the God of all hath wrought a miracle, that
transcendeth the laws of nature. Just as in the Birth-Giving He did preserve
Thine virginity, so also in the grave He did preserve Thy body from decay”
(Kanon 1, Ode 6, Tropar 1). Giving kiss to the all-pure body with reverence and
in awe, the Disciples in turn were blessed by it and filled with grace and
spiritual joy. Through the great glorification of the MostHoly Mother of God,
the almighty power of God healed the sick, who with faith and love gave touch
to the holy cot. Bewailing their separation on earth from the Mother of God,
the Apostles set about the burying of Her all-pure body. The holy Apostles
Peter, Paul, James and others of the 12 Apostles carried the funeral bier upon
their shoulders, and upon it lay the body of the ever-Virgin Mary. Saint John
the Theologian went at the head with the resplendent palm-branch from Paradise,
and the other saints and a multitude of the faithful accompanied the funeral
bier with candles and censers, singing sacred song. This solemn procession went
from the Sion-quarter through all Jerusalem to the Garden of Gethsemane.
      With the start of the
procession there suddenly appeared over the all-pure body of the Mother of God
and all those accompanying Her a vast and resplendent circular cloud, like a
crown, and to the choir of the Apostles was conjoined the choir of the Angels.
There was heard the singing of the Heavenly Powers, glorifying the Mother of
God, which echoed that of the worldly voices. This circle of Heavenly singers
and radiance moved through the air and accompanied the procession to the very
place of burial. Unbelieving inhabitants of Jerusalem, taken aback by the
extraordinarily grand funeral procession and vexed at the honours accorded the
Mother of Jesus, denounced this to the high-priests and scribes. Burning with
envy and vengefulness towards everything that reminded them of Christ, they
sent out their own servants to disrupt the procession and to set afire the body
of the Mother of God. An angry crowd and soldiers set off against the
Christians, but the aethereal crown, accompanying the procession in the air,
lowered itself to the ground and like a wall fenced it off. The pursuers heard
the footsteps and the singing, but could not see any of those accompanying the
procession. And indeed many of them were struck blind. The Jewish priest
Aphthoniah out of spite and hatred for the Mother of Jesus of Nazareth wanted
to topple the funeral bier, on which lay the body of the MostHoly Virgin Mary,
but an Angel of God invisibly cut off his hands, which had touched the bier.
Seeing such a wonder, Aphthoniah repented and with faith confessed the majesty
of the Mother of God. He received healing and joined in with the crowd
accompanying the body of the Mother of God, and he became a zealous follower of
Christ. When the procession reached the Garden of Gethsemane, then amidst the
weeping and the wailing began the last kiss to the all-pure body. Only towards
evening time were the Apostles able to place it in the tomb and seal the
entrance to the cave with a large stone. For three days they did not depart the
place of burial, during this time making unceasing prayer and psalmody. Through
the wise providence of God, the Apostle Thomas had been destined not to be
present at the burial of the Mother of God. Arriving late on the third day at
Gethsemane, he lay down at the sepulchral cave and with bitter tears bespeaking
loudly his desire, that he might be vouchsafed a final blessing of the Mother
of God and have final farewell with Her. The Apostles out of heartfelt pity for
him decided to open the grave and permit him the comfort of venerating the holy
remains of the Ever-Virgin Mary. But having opened the grave, they found in it
only the grave wrappings and were thus convinced of the bodily ascent or assumption
of the MostHoly Virgin Mary to Heaven.
      On the evening of the
same day, when the Apostles had gathered at an house to strengthen themselves
with food, the Mother of God Herself appeared to them and said: “Rejoice!
I am with ye – throughout all the length of days”. This so gladdened the
Apostles and everyone with them, that they took a portion of the bread, set
aside at the meal in memory of the Saviour (“the Portion of the
Lord”), and they exclaimed also: “MostHoly Mother of God, help
us”. (This marks the beginning of the rite of offering up a
“Panagia” (“All-Blessed”) – the custom of offering up at
meals a portion of bread in honour of the Mother of God, which even at present
is done at monasteries).
      The sash of the
Mother of God, and Her holy garb, – preserved with reverence and distributed
over the face of the earth in pieces – both in past and in present has worked
miracles. Her numerous icons everywhere issue forth with outpourings of signs
and healings, and Her holy body – taken up to Heaven, witnesses to our own
future mode of life therein. Her body was not left to the chance vicissitudes
of the transitory world, but was all the more incomparably exalted by its
glorious ascent to Heaven.
      The feast of the
Repose-Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God is celebrated with especial
solemnity at Gethsemane, at the place of Her burial. Nowhere else is there such
sorrow of heart at the separation from the Mother of God and nowhere else such
uplift, persuaded of Her intercession for the world.
      The holy city of
Jerusalem is separated from the Mount of Olives (Olivet) by the valley of
Kedron on Josaphat. At the foot of the Mount of Olives is situated the Garden
of Gethsemane, where olive trees bear fruit even now.
      The holy
Ancestor-of-God Joakim had himself reposed at 80 years of age, – some several
years after the Entry (“Vvedenie vo Khram”) of the MostHoly Virgin
Mary into the Jerusalem Temple (Comm. 21 November). Saint Anna, having been
left a widow, resettled from Nazareth to Jerusalem, and lived near the Temple.
At Jerusalem she bought two pieces of property: the first at the gates of
Gethsemane, and the second – in the valley of Josaphat. At the second locale
she built a crypt for the repose of members of her family, and where also she
herself was buried with Joakim. And it was there in the Garden of Gethsemane
that the Saviour often prayed with His disciples.
      The most-pure body of
the Mother of God was buried in the family cemetery-plot. With Her burial
Christians also reverently honoured the sepulchre of the Mother of God, and
they built on this spot a church. Within the church was preserved the precious
funeral cloth, which wrapped Her all-pure and fragrant body.
      The holy Jerusalem
Patriarch Juvenal (420-458) attested before the emperor Marcian (450-457) as to
the authenticity of the tradition about the miraculous assumption of the Mother
of God to Heaven, and he likewise sent to the empress, Saint Pulcheria (+ 453,
Comm. 10 September), the grave wrappings of the Mother of God, which he had
taken from Her grave. Saint Pulcheria then placed these grave-wrappings within
the Blakhernae church.
      Accounts have been
preserved, that at the end of the VII Century an overhead church had been
situated atop the underground church of the Dormition-Repose of the MostHoly
Mother of God, and that from its high bell-tower could be seen the dome of the
Church of the Resurrection of the Lord. Traces of this church are no longer to
be seen. And in the IX Century near the subterranean Gethsemane church was built
a monastery, at which more than 30 monks asceticised.
      Great destruction was
done the Church in the year 1009 by the despoiler of the holy places, Hakim.
Radical changes, the traces of which remain at present, also transpired under
the crusaders in the year 1130. During the XI-XII Centuries there disappeared
from Jerusalem the piece of excavated stone, at which the Saviour had prayed on
the night of His betrayal. This piece of stone from the VI Century had been
situated within the Gethsemane basilica.
      But in spite of the
destruction and the changes, the overall original cruciform (cross-shaped) plan
of the church has been preserved. At the entrance to the church along the sides
of the iron gates stand four marble columns. To enter the church, it is necessary
to go down a stairway of 48 steps. At the 23rd step on the right side is a
chapel in honour of the holy Ancestors-of-God Joakim and Anna together with
their graves, and on the left side opposite – the chapel of Righteous Joseph
the Betrothed with his grave. The rightside chapel belongs to the Orthodox
Church, and the leftside – to the Armenian-Gregorian Church (since 1814).
      The church of the
Repose of the Mother of God has the following dimensions: in length it is 48
arshin, and in breadth 8 arshin [1 arshin = 28 inches]. At an earlier time the
church had also windows beside the doors. The whole temple was adorned with a
multitude of lampadas and offerings. Two small entrances lead into the
burial-chamber of the Mother of God: entrance is made through the western
doors, and exit at the northern doors. The burial-chamber of the All-Pure
Virgin Mary is veiled with precious curtains. The burial laying-place was hewn
out of stone in the manner of the ancient Jewish grave and is very similar to
the Sepulchre of the Lord. Beyond the burial-chamber is situated the altar of
the church, in which daily is celebrated Divine Liturgy in the Greek language.
      The olive woods on
the eastern and northern sides of the temple was acquired from the Turks by the
Orthodox during the VII-VIII Centuries. The Catholics acquired the olive woods
on the east and south sides in 1803, and the Armenian-Gregorians on the west
side in 1821.
      On 12 August, at
Little Gethsemane, at the 2nd hour of the night, the clergy-head of the
Gethsemane church celebrates Divine Liturgy. With the close of Liturgy, at the
4th hour of the morning, the clergy-head in full vesture makes a short
molieben before the resplendent plaschenitsa, lifts it in his hands and
solemnly carries it beyond the church to Gethsemane proper where the holy
sepulchre of the Mother of God is situated. All the members of the Russian
Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem, with the head of the Mission leading,
participate each year in the procession with the holy plaschanitsa [of the Mother
of God], called the “Litania”.
      The rite of the
Burial of the Mother of God at Gethsemane begins customarily on the morning of
14 August. A multitude of people with hierarchs and clergy at the head set off
from the Jerusalem Patriarchate (nearby the Church of the Resurrection of
Christ) in sorrowful procession. Along the narrow alley-ways of the Holy City
the funeral procession makes its way to Gethsemane. Towards the front of the
procession is carried an icon of the Dormition-Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother
of God. Along the way pilgrims meet the icon, kissing the image of the All-Pure
Virgin Mary and lift children of various ages to the icon. After the clergy, in
two rows walk the black-robed – monks and nuns of the Holy City: Greeks,
Roumanians, Arabs, Russians. The procession, going along for about two hours,
concludes with a lamentations at the Gethsemane church. In front the altar‑table,
beyond the burial chamber of the Mother of God, is set a raised-up spot, upon
which amidst fragrant flowers and myrtle and with precious coverings rests the
plaschanitsa of the MostHoly Mother of God.
      “O marvelous
wonder! The Fount of Life is placed in the grave, and the grave doth become the
ladder to Heaven…”, – here at the grave of the All-Pure Virgin, these
words strike deep with their original sense and grief is dispelled by joy:
“Hail, Full-of-Grace, the Lord is with Thee, granting the world through
Thee great mercy!”
      Numerous pilgrims,
having kissed the icon of the Dormition-Uspenie of the MostHoly Mother of God,
– following an ancient custom, then stoop down and go beneathe it.
      On the day of the
Leave-taking of the feast (23 August), solemn procession is again made. On the
return path, the holy plaschanitsa is carried by clergy headed by the
Gethsemane archimandrite.
      About the rite of the
litany and feast of the Uspenie-Dormition of the Mother of God in the Holy
Land, there is an article in the “Journal of the Moscow
Patriarchate”, 1979, No. 3.

DISCOURSE  ON THE 
ALL-BLESSED DORMITION-REPOSE
OF OUR MOST-PURE
LADY MOTHER OF GOD
AND EVER-VIRGIN
MARY

by
Sainted Gregory Palamas,
ArchBishop of Thessalonika

      My present talk for
your appreciation is occasioned both by love, and by necessity. I speak not
only by reason of my love for you, and whereof I desire that the word of
salvation should gain way to your God-loving hearing, and in such manner, be
imbibed of by your souls; but also, wherein it be very needful for me, in
conjunction with the churchly laudations, to expound on the majesty of the
ever-Virgin Mother of God. And howso this wish, being twofold against the
customary wont, doth impel and incline, and thus also inevitably need compel;
though word canst not comprehend, that which is higher than any word, like as
the sight canst not fix its gaze upon the sun. And insofar as it be not proper
to speak about that which is beyond all words, therein ought primarily the love
for the Mother of God to be consecrated in psalmody. If “venerable in the
eyes of the Lord be the death of His holy ones” (Ps. 115 [116]: 15), and
“the memory of the righteous one is with praises” (Prob. 10:7), then
how much moreso – is the memory of the Holiest of the holy ones, through Whom
– hath become all sanctification for the holy ones, – is the memory of the Ever-Virgin
Mother of God, She Whose memory it now becometh us to celebrate with most
exalted praises? We now make celebration of the holy Dormition, or Repose,
through which was She brought low before the Angels, and yet did She excel
beyond compare the Angels and the Archangels, and being over them by the
consequent Power of Her closeness to God and by the fore-ordained over the ages
wondrous deeds wrought over Her. It was on Her account that the God-inspired
prophets did prophesy, and the miracles that beforehand did point out this
great and universal wonder – the ever-Virgin Mother of God; manifest of the
Spirit; in various ways being the foretype of the future actuality; manifesting
the promise to beget without seed He born of God the Father in eternity… The
King of all greatly desired the mysteried beauty of the ever-Virgin, and within
Her did transpire the incarnating of the Power of the MostHigh, not through
darkness and fire as it was for the God-inspired Moses, and not through means
of storm and clouds as was manifest His Presence to the Prophet Elias (Elijah),
nor by means of some pretext did the Power from on High overshadow the all-pure
and virginal womb. What inexpressibly transpired within Her and of Her was that
the Word of God came forth incarnated in the flesh, “to appear upon earth
and live amongst mankind” (Baruch 3: 38), deifying our nature and
granting us, according to the Divine Apostle, that “which the Angels have
desire to look forward to” (1 Pet. 1: 12) – and in this is the wondrous glorification
and the all-pure glory of the ever-Virgin Mary.
      And what words are
there, appropriate to explain what transpired after the inexplicable birth?
Whereof, the Word of God issuing from on high and begotten through Her in Her
co-operating and co-willing, She also is glorified together with Him in the
dignity with which He is exalted, conjoined in His great and wondrous majesty.
But with the going up to Heaven of He Incarnate of Her, She in turn through
what came to Her of Him, – the excelling majesty of mind and word, as it were
emulating Him with manifold deeds and prayers, and likewise solicitude for all
the world, and the inspiring of preachers to all the ends of the earth. And all
and everywhere She was the sole support and consoler, and in every way
co-operating in the proclamation of the Gospel good-news, and clearly proving
Herself in it with a life filled with struggle and mastery over mind and word.
Whereof, certainly, Her life and death hath carried over into Heavenly and
immortal life; and the remembrance of it is a joyous feast and universal
solemnity. Into the hands of Her Son was taken the God-bearing spirit of the
Ever-Virgin Mary; and indeed a short while afterwards, Her kindred body was
translated by Him into the eternal Heavenly habitations. And all this was fully
just and proper. In actual fact, many were vouchsafed over the ages the Divine
condescension, glory and might, as David likewise sayeth: “For me
exceedingly be esteemed Thine company, O God, and exceedingly assured be their
dominion. I do look over them, and more than the sands be they numbered”
(Ps. 138 [139]: 17-18). “Many a daughter, – according to Solomon, – hath
acquired riches, and many have wrought power” (Prov. 31: 29-30). And here
is She – the All-Pure Virgin Mary, and She is most exceedingly exalted over
all and for all: She alone hath come betwixt God and the human race, She hath
wrought God the Son of Man, and humankind She hath co-made the sons of God; She
hath co-made Heaven of earth and wrought of God the race of man; She alone of
all surpassing all nature is manifest the Mother of God by nature, and through
the mysteried Birth-giving She hath become the Queen of everything both in the
world and of transcendent creation. And in such manner being exalted over all
subject to Her through Her Herself, and having Herself been made participant of
utmost choosing through the Divine Spirit, She is become the highest of any of
the most exalted and most-blest Queen of blessed lineage.
      And now indeed She
hath celestial proper habitation, as it were a palace most becoming Her, into
which today She be translated from earth, to stand at the right side of the
Almighty “adorned in golden robes, aglitter” (Ps. 44 [45]: 9-10), as
expressed of Her by the psalmodist prophet. Beneathe the gilded garb Her
God-worthy body is aglitter with manifold virtues – wherefore She alone with
the Son in God-glorified body hath celestial habitation: for the earth, the
grave and death have not power to hold on ultimately to the life-originative
and God-receiving body more radiant than the heavens and of heaven the
habitation of the heavens. And actually, if a soul having habitation (within
it) of the grace of God, forsaking the mundane, it is borne up to heaven, as
becometh clear from many an example, and we do believe this: therefore, how
could there not be carried up from earth to heaven that body, not only having
accepted within itself the Only-Begotten and Praeternal Son of God, the
inexhaustible well-spring of grace, but moreover having begotten and manifest
Him? How didst Thou, though dust subject to decay, Who being yet three years of
age, and not yet having in Thyself the Prae-Celestial Indwelling, not yet
having begotten the Incarnated One, – how didst Thou come to take up
habitation in the Holy of Holies? [Vide 21 November account of feast of Entry
of the Virgin into the Temple.] Wherefore, it is in that the body, having by
nature begotten, is co-glorified with the God-becoming glory (together) with
He-Begotten, and it is co-resuscitated, as expressed in prophetic song,
together with the three-day first-resurrected Christ, in being His “Ark of
Holiness” (Ps. 131 [132]: 8). There was, moreover, the evidence of Her
resurrection from the dead for the Apostles – the plaschanitsa and burial
cloths, which alone remained in the grave and which alone were found in it by
those having come to look things over: just precisely the way formerly it had
transpired with Her Son and Lord. But here it was unnecessary that She should
tarry a certain while upon the earth, as formerly had Her Son and God; and
therefore, She was straightaway taken up from the grave into celestial
habitation, from whence to shine with a resplendid radiance, illumining from
thence all the earthly realm. And for all the faithful this is something worthy
of veneration, worthy of praise and of song. Moreover, with what was said at
the start, – that She was diminished for a short time before the Angels (in
the sense of tasting of death), – this also should serve to the increase in everything
in the majesty of the Mother of God. Wherefore also it be entirely proper that
everything be united together and considered for the presentday solemnity.
      And thus it is
proper, that She containing the Fulfillment of all and the Existant before all
should Herself achieve all and become foremost of all by Her virtues and utmost
worthiness. And thus it is, that over all the ages it helped matters that all
that all the best individual figures were the best, but that they possessed
only the beneficences of God (each individually) whether angelic or human, –
but all this She doth combine within Herself, and She alone inexpressibly and
supra-abundantly: finding immortality through mortality, and in the flesh
finding heaven together with Her Son and God, and from that time thereof there
is the abundant outpouring of supra-abundant grace for all those honouring Her.
She moreover doth bestow the boldness to hasten unto Her, the vessel of so many
a beneficence: generously doth She distribute blessings and for us doth never
cease this useful bestowing and gracious help.
      Seeing in Her the
source and treasury of every blessing, whosoever declares, that the Virgin is
made perfect by virtue and by living virtuously, is as one for whom there is
the sensory light for the creatures living beneathe it – which is the sun. But
if he transfer his mental gaze to the Sun, eternally shining forth to mankind
from This Virgin, – if gazing towards this Sun, Which by nature and
supra-abundance hath everything, which be granted Her by grace, then the Virgin
therewith doth stand forth amidst the heavens. And this be so because of the
deigning of God through all blessedness, that She hath attained to an
inheritance, by far the most precious, moreso than any beneficence beneathe or
beyond the skies, – just as the sky is more vast than the sun, but the sun
doth shine brighter than the sky.
      What word is there to
describe Thine God-seemly beauty, O Virgin Mother? It is impossible indeed to
explain all about Thee in reasonings and words: so much doth it exceed both
mind and word. But I mustneed sing Thine praises, if Thou permit out of love
for mankind. For in as Thou – art the fount of all gracious gifts and the
fullness of all righteousness, the chosen and inspired image of every blessing
and every good, as only alone worthy of the gifts of the Spirit, and
particularly alone as having held in Thine womb He its treasure, and having
co-wrought miraculous habitation for Him; and wherefore now, having passed
through mortality into immortality, and rightly gone forth from earth to
Heaven, into the Praeternal habitation, Thou art become co-residing in eternal
time, and there (dwellest Thou), not forsaking care for Thine inheritance, but
with incessant supplications to Him moving Him to mercy for all. How much
closer to God of all those closest to God is the Mother of God, and how much
the greatest hath She been vouchsafed, in comparison with all (meaning not only
the earth-born, but all even of the Angelic holy ranks).
      It was about the angelic
chief-ranks that Isaiah earlier once wrote: “and the Seraphim do stand
round about Him” (Is. 6: 2). But concerning Her [the Mother of God] on the
other hand is David: “the Queen stood at Thy right side” (Ps. 44
[45]: 9-10). Do you not see the variance of standing? And from this variance it
is possible to discern also the variance of rank according to worthiness: since
the Seraphim – are but around God, while next right beside Him – the One-Only
Queen, Which be praised of and glorified by God Himself, announcing as it were
concerning Her to His (Angelic) Powers that are round about and saying, as was
said in the Song of Songs: “Thou art fair, My Dear” (Song 6: 4),
a light most sparkling, a Divine paradise most sweet and of all the world both
visible and invisible the most beautiful. And She in all due justice doth stand
not only nearby, but at the right side: since that, where Christ is enthroned
in the Heavens, She also there now doth stand, having gone up from earth to
Heaven, – not only that She did desire this, nor mutually most of all it was
wanted thus in accord with some most essential laws, but rather, it was because
She is His true Throne. This Throne saw also Isaiah amidst the choir of the
Seraphim and he called it high and exalted (Is. 6: 1), thus indicating (by
this) the exalting of the Mother of God over the Heavenly Powers. Wherefore the
prophet also did present these angels as glorifying God of Her and proclaiming:
the blessing of the Glory of the Lord from His place (Ezek. 3: 12). The Patriarch
Jacob, contemplatively surmising this, cried out: “for awesome be this
place: this be naught other than the house of God, and this the Heavenly
gate” (Gen. 28: 17). And David again, in gathering together with the
multitude of the saved, as though it were to avail himself of certain tonal
strings or the consonant varied notes about Her the Ever-Virgin into one
harmony from over the various generations, expresses it in psalmody concerning
Her, saying: “I wilt remember Thy name from every generation unto
generation: whereof people shalt confess Thee unto ages of ages forever”
(Ps. 44 [45]: 17-18).
      Do ye not see, that
the whole of creation doth glorify This the Virgin Mother, and not only over
the course of some prescribed interval, but rather unto ages of ages forever?
It is possible hence to deduce, moreover, that She ceaseth not through all the ages
to be of benefit to all creatures. I speak not only about us as creatures, but
also about the utmost incorporeal and supernatural hierarchies, since they together
with us through Her alone become conjoined and contingent to God, the
Intangible Existant. Isaiah pointed this out clearly: he saw, that the Seraphim
did not directly take hold the offertory coal, but took hold of it by means of
a tong, by which he touched it to the mouth of the prophet, bestowing cleansing
(Is. 6: 6). This vision of the tongs was identical with that great sight which
Moses did contemplate – the bush amidst the flame not consumed (Ex. 3: 2). Who
knows, is not this bush and these tongs the Virgin Mother, without burn
receiving the Fire of Divinity, , such that there was the Archangel present at
the Conception [during the Annunciation], by which through Her was adjoined to
the human race the Burier of the sin of the world cleansing us through this
inexplicable conjoining? And whereof She is the one only Mediatrix betwixt the
created and uncreated nature; and no one can come to God save that they be
lighted forth through Her as through a truly Godly-mete luminant, since that
“God is amidst Her, and wilt not be stirred therefrom” (Ps. 45 [46]:
5-6).
      If recompense be in
measure of love towards God, and the loving Son be beloved of by His Father,
and there be manifest the abode of Both, mysteriedly abiding and dwelling in
such as conform to the promise of the Lord (Jn. 14: 21), – then who would love
Him more than His Mother, for Whom be He the Only-Begotten, but also begotten
virginally, so that for Her there be a twofold cause of love of Him co-united
and conjoined (with Her)? And who more than His Mother would be beloved by the
Only-Begotten, – and moreover Begotten of Her inexplicably in the fullness of
time while yet having been Begotten of the One Only Father in eternity, – how
could there not be increase in conformity in mete propriety and honour
befitting Her under the law, from Him Who was come to fulfill the law?
      And thus, since
through Her alone was come unto us He that did “appear upon earth and live
amongst mankind” (Baruch 3: 38), and before Her being unseen, such that in
the time following He manifest Himself to all as the fount of Divine
illumination, and the fulfilled revelation of the Divine mysteries, and the
full embodiment of spiritual gifts, being moreover uncontained of all, save
Her. She Herself, foremost amongst all the repository of the most exceedingly
excellent plenitude of He That filleth all in all, Herself doth furnish to all
of Him That containeth all, bestowing to each as is possible in accord and in
proportion to the purity of each, since that She is both the repository and the
Mediatrix of the riches of God.
      If such be the
eternal law in the heavens, that through the less there enter into communion
those having great power amidst the great, then certainly the Virgin Mother
doth possess farmost exceedingly incomparable influence. It is through Her that
there be conjoined to God all, who otherwise would not be conjoined. And Her
they do recognise as the repository of He That containeth all, which but know
God, and would praise Her together with God all who but praise God. She Herself
is the pardoner of all that went before Her, and intercessor of all that came
after Her, and Mediatrix of eternal blessings. She – is the reason of the
prophesies of the prophets, the principal of the Apostles, the affirmation of
the martyrs, the foundation of the teachers. She – is the glory of the
earth-born, the joy of the Heavens, and the praise of all creatures. She – is
the source, the fount and tap-root of inexpressible blessings; She – is the
supreme perfecting of all the holy.
      O Virgin Divine and
now Heavenly! How can I relate everything about Thee? How might I glorify Thee,
Thou the Treasury of Glory? Through Thee is illumined the gaze of reason,
through Thee is enlightened the spirit discerned of the Holy Spirit, in as Thou
art rendered repository and vessel of Its gifts; yet not such which Thou
wouldst affirm unto Thyself, but such as Thou wouldst fulfill all with the
gifts of grace. For the Master of inexhaustible treasures foreordaineth them
unto Thee for the bestowing; else why would He have wrought the blessings, and
otherwise remain hidden and unbegotten? Wherefore, O Lady, grant abundantly to
all Thy people and this Thine inheritance both Thy mercy and Thine gifts. Grant
deliverance from the misfortunes afflicting us; behold, how much and how
greatly we are oppressed from both without and within. By Thy might transform
all for the best; bestow for our sufferings Thine help and healing, granting
unto our souls and our bodies abundant grace for every need. And if we be not,
make us worthy receptacles and as such vouchsafe that we, saved and
strengthened by Thy grace, might glorify Him Incarnated of Thee for our sakes
– the Praeternal Word, together with His Father Without-Beginning and
Life-Creating Spirit, both now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Additional Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today

Icon of Sophia, the Wisdom of God (Novgorod).

Venerable Macarius the Roman, abbot (1550), and his disciple St. Chariton.

New Hieromartyr Andrew (Voliansky) priest.

St. Christos of Ioannina (Greek).

St. Stephen, elder of Vyatka (1890).

New Martyrs Priest Paul Szwajko and Presbytera Joanna, of Graboviec (Chelm and Podlasie, Poland) (1943).

Today’s Hymns

Dormition of the All‑holy Mother of God, Troparion, in Tone I
In giving birth thou didst preserve thy virginity,
and in thy falling
asleep thou hast not forsaken the world, O Theotokos.
Thou hast been,
translated to life, as thou art the Mother of Life.
And by thy supplications
thou dost deliver our souls from death.


Hymns, Readings, Feast Day, and Fasting Information provided by Holy Trinity Orthodox Church.

Aggregated and Formatted by OrthoBot OC.

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