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...
Click here to continue reading at the source: holytrinityorthodox.com
Post a Comment