Why do Christians celebrate the Dormition? What does it have in common with Easter? Answered by Archpriest Vladimir Shutov, Rector of the Holy Royal Martyrs Church in Alexandro-Kalinovo.
The canonical texts of the Holy Scriptures (the Gospel, the Acts of the Holy Apostles) contain neither any mention of the time and place of the Dormition of the Holy Virgin, nor a description of this event. We draw information about the Dormition from the Holy Tradition of our Church, which we revere on a par with Holy Scripture.
It is generally accepted that the Resurrection of Christ took place in the year 33. The Dormition of the Mother of God, according to Holy Tradition and the chronicle of the church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, took place in the year 48, that is, 15 years after the Resurrection of the Savior. The Most Pure Mother spent these years with the apostles, travelling and having received with them the gift of Pentecost. During this entire period, the main thing that the apostles preached was the Resurrection of Christ. However, not everyone accepted this. Let us remember St. Paul and his sermon in Athens, when people refused to listen to him after he mentioned the Resurrection of the Savior. People were not ready to accept this central event, and yet “if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:14).
In one of his epistles, the apostle says, “[Christ] will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.” (Philippians 3:21). Today it is still very difficult to believe in the resurrection of the dead, although we have many facts testifying to this. It was even more difficult to believe in it during the days when the Disciples of Christ were spreading the light of Christian teaching in the world. It was indeed a stumbling block to some, and foolishness to others. Most of those who agreed that Christ was resurrected considered this possible only because He is God incarnate. How can an ordinary person be resurrected? How can this be possible?
The Dormition of the Mother of God and the events that followed it became the answer to this question. The events described in the Holy Tradition (for example, when they opened the cave at the request of St. Thomas and did not find the body of the Theotokos there) testify that the promised universal resurrection is possible, because the Mother of God was a human being of flesh and blood. This is evidence of yet another victory over death. If the first victory was won by the God-man through the power of His Divinity, the second one was won by a person of earthly life, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who in Her life embodied all that Her Son and our God taught us. This gives us hope that we, too, will be able to achieve this, following in the footsteps of the Savior and the Mother of God. This is why the Dormition is called the second Easter. The Lord, using the example of His Mother, Whose soul and body He painlessly took to heaven, shows what will happen at the time of the Second Coming, when He will resurrect all of us.
It is very difficult to say something about the Mother of God – this topic is very close to every Christian’s heart. Each of us has an earthly mother. Our mothers are usually good, kind and loving people. Losing them on earth, we feel pain because there is no one here to pray so hotly for us. Christians are consoled by the knowledge that there is a Mother who will not die and whose love will never run dry. This gives us great joy. The Most Pure Mother is the embodiment of all-embracing love, kindness and purity. She is meek and kind.
If such love is possible in a human being, then the Resurrection is also possible, because when we resurrect, we unite with the Lord God, Who is love. All we have to do is strive for this love. The Feast of the Dormition is so close to our hearts, because it is a feast of all-forgiving love, which every person is able to achieve. Everyone can rise with Christ and live with Him in eternity — this is God’s plan and the meaning of life for every person. This was also the life purpose of the Most Pure Mother of God, Who strove from an early age for one thing: to please God. Her life and Her Dormition testify that love never dies. It simply cannot die. The Lord Himself greets a person filled with love, painlessly taking his soul and transforming his body. Faith in this gives us hope and joy as great as can only be felt on Easter.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds