Freitag, 25. April 2014

The Life History of the All-holy Virgin Mary from the Lord's Ascension Until Her Death - By Protopresbyter Michael Polsky

1.The Accord of All with the Lord's Mother (Acts 1: 14). "Then returned they (from the mount of the Ascension) ... and they went up into an upper room, where abode (all the Apostles).... These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with certain of the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren."
After the Lord's Ascension there came about a fundamental change in the mutual relations of all the first believers. The Holy Apostles had been inseparably close to the Lord, and after them there often followed many women (Luke 8:1-3; Matt. 27:55). Now the orphaned community is all gathered together, not travelling, and they are to be found in one place. And the Mother of Jesus and His brothers are with them. The "unbelief," doubts and uneasiness of His brothers are at an end, as is their closeness according to the flesh with the Great Man. There comes instead a general concord, which is now expressed in prayer and supplication. There were many women among then, for the company numbered about "an hundred and twenty" (Acts 1:15), but only one of them is mentioned by name, the Mother of the Lord, and this even though formerly several of them were accounted for by name. It is fitting that now she alone has a mention, just as it is that earlier in His lifetime she was not mentioned in the number of the female companions of the Lord. That was not her time; she observed her Son from afar; she saw Him at home every time He was in His hometown; then she came to His Cross. Now she, as an active member of the Christian community, is together with the Apostles and all the community. This is why she alone is mentioned here. This fact was therefore worthy of note. The Lord is not with them in the flesh; the Mother of the Lord is. There came about an exceptional solidarity within the whole community and the Lord's Mother took her own appropriate place therein, putting her prayers and supplications behind the general cause. The concord of all was now a concord with the Mother of the Lord in the strength of her participation in the common assembly.
2. The Glorious Dormition of the All-holy Virgin Mary. Several years after the Ascension of the Lord into heaven, at a time when the All-holy Virgin was fervently praying to the Lord that she might "be absent from the body and be present with the Lord," she sighed "desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven" (2 Cor. 5:1-8)—for, to whom would it be more onerous than to her to be separated from the beloved Son?—then the Archangel Gabriel, her heavenly minister, appeared to her with the good tidings that in three days she would indeed be reunited with her Divine Son. The Mother of the Lord, God's dwelling place on earth, would now herself be translated to God's heavenly dwelling place.
The holy Apostles, the eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, of God in the flesh, would behold the demise of her, whose flesh God Himself had born. And in the same way as the holy Apostle Philip, through the prompting of an Angel, went down on the way to Gaza, and was subsequently"caught away" by the Angel and "found at Azotus" (Acts 8:26, 39, 40), so also all the holy Apostles, who were dispersed throughout the world, were, by the Divine omnipotence, caught up from their various places and were gathered together at the death-bed of the All-holy Theotokos.
But the death of the All-holy Virgin was exactly a falling asleep [dormition]: it was without the slightest heaviness or conflict at the separation of her soul from the body that she, as it were, fell asleep. The Lord Himself, appearing with a company of the holy Angels and of the spirits of the righteous, received her immaculate soul. The Son repaid His debt to the mother and received her unto Himself in Heaven, as she had received Him unto herself on earth. The One Who was Himself mortal in the flesh which He had received from her, being a man, willed that she should die and surrender her soul into His hands.
However, the physical nature of mankind, which in Christ had resurrected, could not be wholly given over to death and corruption in the one from whom the Lord had received that nature.
Like her Son, she was subject to the natural law in her death, and she dies with her Son, so that she might with Him rise again unto all eternity Being a heaven herself, she is taken up to heaven; as the throne of God, she goes to God's throne. Her resurrection and ascension into heaven were assured, for she was not lesser than the Prophets Enoch and Elias, who also have not seen corruption and the dissolution of their bodies. And it was not possible that the Lord would permit the dissolution of the most pure and most sanctified divine temple of His Mother, when He Himself had in three days raised up in Himself that temple which was destroyed in Him (John 2:19). Thus the Lord, Who rose on the third day, raised the All-holy Virgin on the third day.
On this day, at the request of the Apostle Thomas, who had arrived late for the repose and burial of the Mother of God, her tomb was opened, but within the body of the Virgin was not to be found. The evening of the very same day, the holy Apostles rose from table and, according to the sacred custom, took a portion which was set aside in the Lord's honour, and they began to glorify the All-holy Trinity and desired to intone "All-holy Trinity" or "Lord Jesus Christ, help us," when they saw the All-holy Virgin in the air with a multitude of Angels, and she spoke to them: "Rejoice! I am ever with you!" The Apostles exclaimed "All-holy Theotokos, help us."
Thus the life of the All-holy Virgin Mary from her birth until the Annunciation is known to Christ's Holy Church from two very important facts: the circumstances of her birth itself and her entry into the Temple and her upbringing therein. And, after the Ascension of the Lord, we know of her repose.
This pure, sacred Church Tradition has been kept as being in complete accord with the spirit and the letter of Sacred Scripture, and has been immovably established in the Church of Christ by the annual festal commemorations on the 8th September (Birth of the All-holy Virgin), 21st November (her Entry into the Temple), and 15th August (Dormition).

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