Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dormition of the Theotokos

This devotional for the Feast of the Dormition of Mother Mary (August 15th) is from Rev. Dn. Abraham (Abey) George, a member of St. Mary's West Sayville, NY. He is a graduate of St. Tikhon's Orthodox Theological Seminary.
On the feast of the dormition of the Mother of our God, what words or phrases can possibly describe the magnificence of her life? The Holy Church exalts her as the second Eve, the queens of the Saints, the second heaven, the preserver of the monastic’s and much more.

If we examine the life of the Mother of God, her life is the greatest example of “synergia". "Synergia" is a Greek word derived from ‘syn’ (meaning "with") and 'ergon' (meaning "work" or "effort") becomes ‘synergia’ or "working together with" and implies a cooperative effort toward a shared goal.

St. Mary worked with the Grace of God through which she was able to be in communion with Him. Her desire to be in communion with God led her to the purification and illumination of her soul, preparing herself to receive the Christ.

In the words of Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, ‘God operates in our life when man co-operates with God’.

She was crowned with the virtue of Humility, which according to the Fathers is a requirement for any kind of spiritual progress. Often times in our daily lives, we may fall into the trap of thinking that being in the Orthodox Church is enough for our salvation. Taking a passive role in our spiritual lives, whether we are Orthodox or heterodox, is deadly to our spiritual lives. We are called to be proactive in our spiritual lives. God expects us to cooperate with Him through our ascetical efforts. The Holy Graces of God which flows from the sacraments do not work like magic.

We cooperate with the Grace of God through our spiritual efforts through fasting, praying, singing, prostrations, reading of the Holy Scriptures, observing lent, divine contemplation and acquiring stillness of mind through the aid of Holy Icons and so on. This cultivates humility, fruit of the spirit and invites the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

This is exactly what we can see in the life of the Mother of the God. As a young child, she spent much time in the temple being in communion with God. Through her ascetic efforts being in the temple of God, she herself became a temple of God, bearing God in her womb. The Church being a hospital for sinners provides us with the medicine for our spiritual healing.

It is right in front of us but what do we do? Often times we just merely gaze at it and fail to embrace and reap spiritual fruits from it. In the process of pursuit after 'Happiness', the world has forgotten the true Christian goal, the pursuit of 'Holiness'.

During this Lenten time let us ask ourselves, why do we rebel against God? Why do resist the Holy Spirit? Why do we refuse to cooperate with God? What prevents us from our healing? How can we incorporate ascetical practices in our daily lives? It does not take much to change our lives. If we can start with the small things in our lives, we can slowly progress towards making big changes in every aspect of our lives.

The Mother of God knows the difficulty of living a spiritual life. She knows the amount of work required for spiritual progress and therefore she is willing to help us in our spiritual struggles through her prayers. On the feast day of the falling asleep of the Mother of God, let us work towards imitating her life and strive to cultivate virtue, obedience and holiness through our spiritual efforts.

Through the prayers of the most pure ever virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Lord Jesus Christ our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen!

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