“All the angels and archangels rushed through the air to gather in a joyful visit to this world, sent from heaven by God to be the celebrants of her holy falling-asleep”

How amazing, my brothers and sisters in the love of Christ! Today she who gave birth to the life of all people has moved on to be a sharer in that life. The life which was begotten before the ages from the Father, which is God and the Word of God, which she bore in the flesh and nursed from her own breasts, the life that built all things from nothing and generated life in them—this life she has inherited, and has come as its mother to share in it above all the holy ranks of heaven and earth. The life that is the fountainhead of the universe she received from God and made a spring for this world, the light of mortal beings; for it is written, “The life was the light of men and women” (Jn 1:3f.). She has gone to dwell with this light, the true and substantial light, “the shining-forth of the glory of God the Father” (Heb 1:3), which lightens the world, which has become flesh through her by the Holy Spirit, “enlightening every man and woman who comes into the world” (Jn 1:9). And when Christ our God, co-eternal with his Father and the Spirit, chose by decree to take her to himself, to share in his glory—his most-blessed mother, who is, after him, the greatest of all beings—all the angels and archangels rushed through the air to gather in a joyful visit to this world, sent from heaven by God to be the celebrants of her holy falling-asleep.

All the holy powers of heaven, too, rejoice to learn of the mystery; they praise the kind Savior Christ, who was born of her and who calls her to himself, and give abounding glory, as Scripture says, to him who formed the stars, for revealing her as more glorious than the heavens. She is heaven for his divinity, and through her rational beings on earth now shine like heavenly bodies with the radiance of his divine grace, above the sun and moon and stars; for he says to them, “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5;14). From all of rational and intelligible creation, he has chosen her to be his all-holy Mother, and has endowed her with gifts above all others. The cherubim do not dare to look at him, or have the strength to gaze at him; the spirits worthip him with his all-holy Father and Spirit, ceaselessly crying out, “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of hosts” (Is 6:3). Yet he has, through her, set creation free from slavery, and has brought into reality surpassing joy for the whole cosmos; he has said to the powers above, “Rejoice with us” (Lk 15:9). For through her, the mortal drachma is found, and the good shepherd has put on the skin of his sheep and has saved his intellectual beast from its wandering, laying it across his shoulders. The Lord of hosts rejoices, who became flesh from her without ceasing to be what he is, who sanctified her as a field ready to receive God, where God the Father graciously willed to be the farmer, and the Holy Spirit the workman who planted the seed. Christ, God’s only Son, grew up and bore fruit in her as the true vine, providing joy for the holy powers of heaven and salvation for mortals on earth; for he says in the Gospel, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer” (Jn 15;1). The Mother of God has come to this true vine that she brought forth, to harvest the grapes of incorruption and immortality, rejoicing over her new fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God. She is nourished on the heavenly bread of life, vitalized forever by him who entered our history from her sacred womb and came forth to share our mortal life, strengthening our hearts by right faith in him. Like an olive tree, like God’s cultivated field, she has borne for us the fountainhead of mercy: Christ whose mercy fills all things to overflowing.

St Modestus of Jerusalem

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1 Response to “All the angels and archangels rushed through the air to gather in a joyful visit to this world, sent from heaven by God to be the celebrants of her holy falling-asleep”

  1. Thank you Fr. I have been Orthodox for about 10 yrs now, spent 4 yrs in seminary, and only in the last year or so have I been comfortable accepting the idea of Mary’s literal bodily assumption. Belief in it seemed to come too late in church history to be plausible, unlike Jesus’ resurrection and even Mary’s perpetual virginity, which we first see evidence of around 120-150.

    Only recently, after looking at her alleged appearances at Zeitoun in 1968, which was witnessed by thousands, including Muslims, and has many photographs to back it up, have I been able to come around to the idea. I’m very glad Orthodoxy has not dogmatized this, but the Holy Mother’s several appearances at Coptic churches in Egypt over the years seems to confirm the deeply held conviction of so many Orthodox and Catholics. For Bart Ehrman, I think he just says these appearances just confirm that multiple people can hallucinate the same thing (thousands of people?). That seems wildly irrational to me, but maybe I’m mischaracterizing his view.

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