The first fifteen days of this the month of August we commemorate and honor the most holy Mother of God with daily supplication services and a fasting period. On August 15th of the liturgical cycle, the Orthodox Church commemorates the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Notice here the word dormition, as opposed to words that we often use in modern speech such as dying or passing away. The word dormition expresses the Virgin Mary’s falling asleep. Sleep being temporary, whereas death is permanent. In the Greek language, the word for dormition or sleep is ‘kimisis’ and from this word, the English word cemetery came about. The word cemetery then references a place of rest. This path that the All-Holy (Panaghia) Virgin Mary traveled through her dormition expresses perfectly the Orthodox understanding of ‘death’ or more correctly falling asleep. In the icon of the Dormition of the God-bearer (Theotokos) we see something very profound. Let us recall for a moment the immense dedication, humility and love that the Virgin Mary had for her God even from her earliest years on this earth. In the icon of the feast, it is no longer the Panaghia who was embracing her Son and God, but rather Christ embracing the soul of the Virgin Mary depicted as a baby dressed in a white shroud. The Panaghia is Christ’s mother and she is our mother. Time and space do not separate us, but rather join us closer through Christ. Let us run to her and offer her our prayers together as we chant hymns of praise.
May the Most Holy Virgin Mary and Mother of our God intercede for us always!