“The Angels, as they looked upon the Dormition of the Virgin, were struck with wonder, seeing how the Virgin went up from earth to heaven.”
“It is the Day of Resurrection, let us be radiant, O ye people; for Christ is risen, O gladness eternal.” We exclaim so joyfully on the days of the Feast of the Feasts, on the days of the Pascha of Christ. And now, on this day of Our Lady’s Pascha, the day of the Dormition of the Most Pure One, we sing a triumphant song: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
These two bright holidays have one theme and one essence. The theme is the victory over death, the calling of man to eternity.
Thus, in the Pascha of Christ, the Master of Life, Jesus Christ, conquers death on the Cross, when He rises on the third day; here, in the Assumption, in the Pascha of the Mother of God, Jesus Christ, who lifted up our flesh to the Abode of the Father on the fortieth day, prevented the corruption of the body of the Most Pure Virgin, resurrected it from the tomb on the third day. Once again, death is conquered. The One of our kind is not subject to judgment or decay, but is taken with the flesh to the same Abode.
Isn’t that why the Dormition Fast is so similar to the Lent? The same essence of holidays, the same preparation is required from believers: abstinence, prayer, and purification. Remember: “our struggle is against spiritual wickedness in high places,” and “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.”
Whereas the Pascha of the Lord is preceded by the Holy Week, the Pascha of the Mother of God – the feast of Dormition – is preceded by the Day of the Cross: the Light-Giving Cross marks the beginning of the Dormition Fast, blessing us for the feats of fasting abstinence and cleansing of sins, before we can finally bow to the Dormition of the Pure One and Her ascent to the celestial realm. “The Angels, as they looked upon the Dormition of the Virgin, were struck with wonder, seeing how the Virgin went up from earth to heaven.”
The Cross of the Lord is erected in the middle of Lent to maintain spiritual strength, and is placed in the middle of the temple so that believers can draw strength and joy in the contemplation of the Light of Love in the Lord’s feat of the Cross.
The Radiant Feast of Transfiguration is a beacon standing in the middle of the Dormition Fast. It calls the believers to the feat of climbing the rocky and thorny path in the fight against evil, sin, and corruption.
Who is a madman to ask now: why should we abstain from passion? What kind of madman, in the light of Transfiguration, would dare to stop halfway through his ascent to the Light of Christ, to the Goal of our life – to His abode, seeing Christ on Mount Tabor, hearing His conversation with Elijah and Moses, confirming the reality of eternal life, and hearing the voice of the Father: “This is My beloved Son: listen to Him”.
O Man who is called to royal eternity, you are now a traveler who has lost his way. Raise your eyes upward. Bow to the Cross, on which the Love of God is crucified; climb the mountain of transformation of your flesh, embrace the voice of angels praising the bodily ascent of the Most Pure One to heaven. With all power of persuasion, you will exclaim: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
The gates of the Jerusalem on High, the gates of the House of the Heavenly Father, are now open to all who have been baptized in Christ and who have put on Christ. Amen.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds