Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Celebrating the Afterfeast of the Dormition

Dear Parish Faithful,

“Mary can only be properly understood, her mystery can only be faithfully celebrated, insofar as she is revealed by the person and saving work of her Son. But the converse is true as well. The mystery of Christ’s redemptive suffering, the secret of his saving work hidden from the Prince of this age, is only fully revealed to eyes of faith through the person of his Holy Mother.” (Mary in the New Testament, Fr. John Breck).

We have been blessed with a wonderful celebration of the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. The service of Great Vespers yesterday evening and the Divine Liturgy this morning were very well-attended, with just about forty parishioners at each service, I believe. Considering the one service was on Sunday evening and the other on a workday morning, that was excellent participation. Such an open veneration of the Theotokos within our parish community is deeply encouraging. I regret the fact that others were not able to attend the services, but I wish one and all a joyous feast as we commemorate the mysterious “translation” of the Mother of God into the Kingdom of God following her holy Dormition. Breaking the fast is no little contribution to the over-all joyousness of the day either!

The Feast of the Dormition has the full octave of afterfeast observance, meaning that we continue to honor the Mother of God’s falling asleep and passage into the realm of divine glory for eight days. The Leavetaking is thus on August 23. Practically, that means we should continue to add the troparion and kontakion of the Feast to our daily prayers; as well as using them as a means of blessing before our meals. The respective texts are readily available on our parish website or perhaps in your Orthodox Prayer Book. I would also suggest taking advantage of all of the excellent material on our website under the Dormition. There are some remarkable sermons and summaries of the meaning of the Feast also available there.

Next Sunday’s Liturgy falls within the Afterfeast, meaning we continue to sing and chant the appointed festal material. As yesterday’s homily was devoted to our over-all veneration and its meaning – both theological/spiritual and practical - of the Virgin Mary; then next Sunday’s homily will concentrate more specifically on the Feast of the Dormition itself.

The decorated tomb with the icon of the Theotokos in blessed repose will also remain an open place for our veneration until the Leavetaking.

In Christ,

Fr. Steven

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