Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dormition of the Ever-Virgin Mary

In birth, you preserved your virginity; in death, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. As mother of life, you departed to the source of life, delivering our souls from death by your intercessions.
Apolytikion (First Tone)

To all Christians celebrating today's Feast (especially to those named Mary, Maria, Panagiotis & Despina), to those still persevering in the Dormition Fast, and even to those yet to honour the Mother of God... through her prayers, may God grant good health and many years!

On Dormition & Assumption
Following her repose, the body of the Theotokos was taken in procession and laid in a tomb near the Garden of Gethsemane. When the Apostle Thomas arrived three days after her repose and desired to see her body, the tomb was found to be empty.

He asked, "Where is it; where is the body?"

The other Apostles replied, "We are not quite sure, but we think her body has been taken up to heaven along with her soul."

"Really?" Thomas queried.

To that, the Apostle Peter said, "Well, that's the assumption."

Most (Catholics & Orthodox alike) often confuse the Catholic dogma of the Assumption of Mary with the Ascension. The Theotokos was assumed (i.e. taken up) into heaven by God's divine power and grace. She could not and definitely did not ascend into heaven as her Son did. Whether she had an earthly death or was assumed into heaven as Elijah was, the Western Church has chosen to remain silent. Both possibilities are allowed.

In defining the dogma of the Assumption, Pope Pius XII in Munificentissimus Deus, left the question open:

"...the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."

Well, I hope that little post clears up some doubts!


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