Happy feast!

“What a marvel! She hath fallen asleep! She who gave birth to the life and resurrection of the world hath fallen asleep! By the grace that came from her, every spiritual and intellectual nature shares eternal life. Her Son is He that hath despoiled the underworld and death, who hath destroyed him that had the power of death [Heb 2:14], who will raise up by His command [cf. 2Thess 4:16] them that have died since time began and that sleep in Him – the one who is LORD, and who saith, ‘I am the resurrection and the life’ (Jn 11:24). She followeth him as His Mother, the all-holy one, and saith unto Him in prophetic manner, ‘My heart hath not grown tired of following after Thee, and hath not longed for the woeful day (Jer 17:16).

“To-day, she who gave rest in her arms to the joy of the Cherubim and Seraphim and all the heavenly powers hath fallen asleep. He is the rest of the angels and of all things, and the holy and life-giving Spirit, who proceeds from the Father, rests in Him as the Son who shares God’s very substance; He is the true rest, who saith in the Gospel, ‘Come to me, all that travail and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest,’ (Mt 11:28). She now closes her holy eyes, who once set the light of the world shining, who carried the maker of lights Himself in the world like a golden processional torch, untouched by human hands: ‘he it is who planted the ear and formed the eye,’ (Ps 93:9), and who summons men from all the ends of the earth ‘into His marvelous light,’ (1 Pet 2:9). Her glorious body, the receptacle of life, must be laid to rest by holy hands, for it was the source of immortality and incorruptibility, which flowed from the Holy Ghost within that mortal and corruptible nature that belongeth to all of us. She clothed the LORD, who ‘wraps himself in light as in a robe, (Ps 103:2), in the fleshly garments in which He advanced in age, for He was born of her.

“Then, indeed, that holy body of the Mother of God – where Christ was formed, where the God who is over all came truly to be called Man – was lifted up on a bier. O holy bier, who bear that truly immaculate body, through which He who makes all things holy has come forth! O holy bier, bearing another couch not made by hands ‘where the God who laid down the heavens’ has ‘chosen to take his rest’ (Ps 17:10; 131:13). O holy bier, bearing the holy dwelling place – greater than all the world – of the God whom no place contains! O holy bier, bearing God’s workshop for the salvation of the world! O holy bier, bearing the palace of heaven’s king, built by Him as the place of His real yet uncircumscribed presence – the presence of His Incarnation! O holy bier, bearing that wonderful chariot, in which the God ‘who sits upon the Cherubim’ (Is 17:16) came forth to ride over the earth! Having clothed Himself with the purple robe of our nature, ‘he rules over the nations’ (Ps 46:9). About Him, the prophet said, ‘Why are thy robes red, as from a winepress when the grapes have been trodden down (Is 63:2). O holy bier, bearing the pure, chosen spiritual mine, from which the Creator and LORD wrought anew for Himself His own creation! O holy bier, bearing the blessed tent that came from Abraham and David – the tabernacle from which the most high and incorporeal God took His living, spiritual body, which did not exist before Him, but took up its very existence in Him! O holy bier, bearing the spiritual incense that fills the whole world ‘with the fragrance of Christ, our God, (2 Cor 2:15). O holy bier, bearing the sacred vessel filled with the myrrh of a divinity beyond all divinity! O holy bier, bearing the all-holy body of the most glorious Mother of God, which is carried away amidst celebration by the holy angels and the divine apostles, to the praise and glory of her Son and our God!”

From a sermon preached by St Modestus of Jerusalem.

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