Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God

Attributed to Modestus of Jerusalem

When she had successfully completed her voyage through life, the human ship which had carried her God reached the haven of perfect peace beside the helmsman of the world who, with her help, had saved the human race from the flood of godlessness and sin, and given it life. He who gave one law on Sinai, and issued another from Zion, our God himself, sent there to have the ark which he had sanctified brought to him, the ark of which David her ancestor had sung: Go up, Lord, to your resting place, you and ark which you have sanctified.

This ark was not drawn by oxen like the Mosaic ark of old but guided and guarded by a heavenly army of holy angels. It was not an ark made by hands and plated with gold, but a living ark created by God, wholly luminous with the radiance of the all-holy and life-giving Spirit who had visited her. Within this ark there was no jar of manna, no tablets of the covenant, but instead the bestower of manna and of the promised blessings of eternity, the Lord of the new and old covenants, who from this ark came into the world as a child and freed those who believe in him from the curse of the law. This ark did not have Aaron’s rod within and the glorious Cherubim above but possessed the incomparably greater glory of being herself the rod of Jesse, and of being overshadowed by the divine, the almighty power of the supremely exalted Father. And instead of preceding the Hebrew people like the earlier ark, this ark followed God when he appeared on earth in the body received from her. Blessed by angels and humans alike to the glory of him who exalts her above all creatures in heaven and on earth, her holy lips exclaimed: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.

In order to shine out clearly, this light-bringing spiritual dawn came to dwell in the radiance of the Sun of Righteousness, in obedience to him who rose by his own power to give light to all creation. Through her the splendour that outshines even the rays of the sun sheds his light upon us in mercy and compassion, stirring up in the souls of believers the desire to imitate as far as they can his divine kindness and goodness. For Christ our God, who from this maiden who remained always a virgin and from the Holy Spirit had clothed himself in a human body possessed of soul and mind, called her to himself and clothed her in immortality, since she was his own flesh and blood. Because she was his most holy mother, he bestowed on her the highest honour by making her is heir; as the Psalmist sings: The queen stands on your right robed in raiment wrought with gold and diverse colours.

Today the human tent which in a wonderful way received God, the Lord of heaven and earth, in the flesh is taken away. She, his own flesh and blood, is made by him immortal, to become together with him for ever strong to defend, protect, and save all of us who are Christians.

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