Today we celebrated the Dormition of the Virgin Mary in many churches named after the Mother of God according to the ancient calender and rites of the Syriac Orthodox church in the World.
The Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on August 15. This feast, which is also sometimes called the Assumption, commemorates the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ's mother. It proclaims that Mary has been "assumed" by God into the heavenly kingdom of Christ in the fullness of her
In Orthodox Tradition, St Mary died like all humanity, "falling asleep," like all people die - not "voluntarily" like her Son.
The Apostles were miraculously summoned to this event, and all were present except Thomas when Mary passed from this life. She was then buried. Thomas arrived a few days later, and desiring to see her one more time, convinced the others to open her tomb. Upon doing so, the Apostles discovered that her body was no longer present. The event is normally called the Dormition. The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary that Mary truly needed to be saved by Christ as all human persons are saved and that she truly died and was raised up by her Son as the Mother of Life and participates already in the eternal life of paradise. This life of paradise is prepared and promised to all who "hear the word of God and keep it." ~ St Luke 11:27-28.
The feast is preceded by 14 days of strict fasting, with the exceptions that fish is eaten on the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6).
On the eve of the feast, Vespers is served and contains three Old Testament readings that have New Testament meaning.
1. In Genesis 28:10-17, Jacob's Ladder which unites heaven and earth points to the union of God with men which is realized most fully and perfectly in Mary the bearer of God. "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!"
2. In Ezekiel 43:27-44:4, the vision of the temple with the door to the East perpetually closed and filled with the glory of the Lord, symbolizes Mary.
3. In Proverbs 9:1-11, Mary is identified with the "house" which the Divine Wisdom has built for herself.
Divine Liturgy is served on the day on the feast. The epistle reading is from Philippians 2:5-11, and speaks of "Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men." The gospel reading is taken from Luke 10:38-42 and 11:27-28 together; this reading is also always read on all feasts of the Theotokos. In it, the Lord says,
"Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"
Source of Photo: Holy Virgin Mary with Infant Jesus depicted in the Rabbula Gospels http://sor.cua.edu/