by Saint John of Kronstadt
O believers all, let us exult, For into the divine Tabernacle and Holy of Holies on high, as His Mother is Christ now translating her Let us be happy, dear brothers and sisters that we belong to the Holy Orthodox Church, which rightly glorifies the Most Holy Theotokos on this day!
There exists many that do not consider the need nor the obligation to call upon and glorify the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, and other saints and angels. Sadly, some actively dishonor the Mother of God, the saints, their icons, their relics and their festivals. How different it would be if they also glorified the Queen of heaven and earth together with us!
Today in the Holy Church we celebrate the Dormition -the falling asleep- of the Mother of God, and Her translation from earth to heaven. She fell asleep peacefully & without serious illness. Her soul was taken up by the hands of Her Son and carried up into heaven, accompanied by the singing of angels. Her most pure body was then transferred by the apostles to Gethsemane where it was reverently buried, and on the third day it was resurrected and taken up to heaven.
You see this on the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. On it is represented the life-bearing body of the Theotokos laying as if asleep, surrounded by the apostles and hierarchs, and in the center of the icon the Lord holding in His hands the purest soul of the Theotokos. Her falling asleep becomes a paradigm of the translation of the souls of Christians to the other world. We say that our dead have “fallen asleep” or “passed away.” What does this mean? This means that for the true Christian there is no death. Death was conquered by Christ on the cross. But there is a translation, a rearrangement of the condition of the soul, i.e. the soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grave, eternal, without end, awaiting that day when by the voice of the Lord and the awesome trumpet of the Archangel, all the dead shall live and come forth each to his place: either to the resurrection of life or to the resurrection of condemnation. This is what the Christian means by translation.
We should be ready for this and for the day of the general resurrection and judgment, for this will be a dramatic world event, as Scripture attests. Preparation for meeting the heavenly King before the dread judgment seat, after death, is essentially the way we live throughout the whole of his life. Preparing to meet the Lord means a change in our thoughts, and the moral change of our being, so that the whole person may be pure/white as snow. Preparing means washing clean everything that tarnishes the body and spirit, and being adorned with every virtue: repentance, meekness, humility, gentleness, simplicity, chastity, mercifulness, spiritual contemplation, and love for God and neighbor. Our preparation for meeting the heavenly King, and for the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, should consist of these things. The Lord desires souls clothed with virtue; souls prepared so that the He Himself could abide in them.
Don’t be amazed that the Lord wants to live in us. In fact, the human soul is larger than the heavens and the earth, for it exists in the image of God. And if one removes sins from the soul, the Lord of all will settle in and will fill it with Himself. “We will come to him and make our dwelling with him”, says the Lord about every soul that loves Him. And so, as we participate in this great Christian feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, the One who was -in her lifetime- brightly adorned with every virtue and -at her passage from this life- translated to the heavenly kingdom; to Her Son and God, the Church proclaims to each and every one the importance of preparing your souls to be the dwelling place of the Lord, about continual repentance, and about being clothed with Christian virtue. And in this way, your own falling asleep will be unashamed and peaceful, your life of faith well-lived will serve as the pledge of a good answer at the awesome judgment seat of Christ. Amen!