“Hail, Dawn of the Mystical Day”

   

The feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos has profound spiritual significance and follows on from the Resurrection of Christ. Christ took His body from the All-Holy Virgin and He resurrected it with His divinity, therefore thebody of the Theotokos also received glory, honour and dignity. All the spiritual gifts possessed by the All-Holy Virginare connected with the fact that she is the Mother of Christ.The All-Holy Virgin has experienced what all the saints will experience at the Second Coming of Christ and in the life that will follow.

The event of the Dormition of the Theotokos directs ourthoughts to the basic issues of our life, which are connectedwith death and dying, heaven and God. We are usually busy with everyday things, and we ignore or avoid problems that relate to such questions as: “What is life?”, “What is death?”, “Why does death exist?”, “Where do we go after death?”, “Where are the people we love who have departed from this world?”, “How are we going to live the rest of our life without them?”, and all the other questions that torment us in different ways.

Many people have pointed out that the worst problem afflicting people in their lives is not economic difficulties but death. One example that confirms this fact is that, when someone dear to us dies, nothing brings us pleasure: delicious celebratory meals do not satisfy us, the beauty of nature does not delight us, and nothing in life brings us joy. Sometimes when we are going through such states of mourning we become eccentric. We behave in a peculiar way, perhaps even aggressively, and this annoys and puzzles those around us. Death is the greatest social problem.

The feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos shows us that within the Church, by the grace of Christ, even deathitself takes on a meaning that banishes every kind of grief. Death does not lead us to destruction and nothingness, but to a relationship and encounter with others who departed before us. Death is actually a crossing or transition from the land of exile to our true home country, just as the Israelites crossed over from Egypt through the Red Sea into the Promised Land. Death is such a crossing. It is an encounter with Christ, the All-Holy Virgin, the saints and the angels, and an entrance into the heavenly Church. Death is not a dissolution, a rift or a separation, but an entry into the heavenly Church, provided, of course, that we live with this longing and according to God’s will.

Extolling the All-Holy Virgin, the hymn-writer says to her: “Hail, dawn of the mystical day.” Dawn is daybreak,the transition from darkness into light. How beautiful the dawn is, when day begins to break and the sun rises! The All-Holy Virgin shows us this spiritual dawn through her glorious Dormition. The day is the uncreated Light of God that illuminates everything. And this day is mystical in the sense that it cannot be understood rationally or through the senses, but is granted to those who know how to love Christ from their heart. They have hope, their life has meaning, and they are optimistic.

The feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos shows us that the All-Holy Virgin is the dawn of the mystical day, and that her death is a glorious Dormition, a meeting with her Son. It also shows us that she is the Mother of Life and she made her way towards Life, as the tomb and death could not hold her back. For us, too, the Dormition of the Theotokos is “the dawn of the mystical day”, the hope of life that banishes tears and mourning. This reminds of the words of the Prophet and King David: “Though I walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Ps. 22[23]:4). When someone loves Christ and lives with Him, he is afraid of nothing, because Christ is the victor over death and the giver of life.

From this perspective, this feast of the Mother of God is a cause of joy and gladness, and gives our life meaning. Or rather, it shows us Christ, Who is Life itself. With this faith we overcome all obstacles, chase away all troubles and our hearts are at peace.

extract from the book

The Feasts of the Mother of God

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Since 1982 the nuns of the Birth of the Theotokos Monastery have been publishing the books of Metropolitan Hierotheos, the founder and spiritual father of the community, and distributing them throughout the world.

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