SUNDAY WITH THE MOST HOLY VIRGIN THEOTOKOS

Prayer From the Festal Manaion
(tone 1) "By the royal command of God,
the divinely inspired apostles are caught up
from over all the world into the clouds on high.

(tone 5) Reaching thy immaculate body,
the source of Life, they salute it with mighty honour.

(tone 2) The highest powers of heaven
stood by with their own Master.

(tone 6) Seized with dread
they accompany thy inviolate body that had held God,
and they went on high before thee, crying, unseen,
to the hierarchies above:
'Lo, the Queen of all, the Maid of God, is nigh.'

(tone 3) Open wide the gates and receive above the world
the Mother of the everlasting Light.

(tone 7) For through her the salvation of all mankind has come.
We have not the strength to look upon her,
and are unable to render honours worthy of her,

(tone 4) for her excellence is past all understanding.
(tone 8) Therefore, O most pure Theotokos,
who livest forever with Thy Son, the King Who brings life,
pray without ceasing that thy newborn people
be guarded on every side and saved from all adverse assault:
for we are under thy protection,

(tone 1) and we bless thee in beauty and light unto all ages."
From the Vespers of the Dormition (tr. by Mother Mary and Bp. Kallistos Ware)

Assumption Prayer from the Chaldean Church
The lips of man
are not worthy to praise
the Mother of the Lord of angels and of men
for neither can men understand her,
nor angels know her sufficiently

Admirable in her mortal life,
marvelous in her life-giving death
living she was dead to the world,
dying she raised the dead to life.
The apostles hasten to her from distant lands,
the angels descend from on high,
to pay her honour due.

The Virtues animate each other
The Principalities come forward
like flaming clouds,
The Dominations rejoice,
The Powers exult.

The Thrones redouble their praise:
while the Seraphim cry out:
O blessed and glorious body;
and the Cherubim extol her
with their songs,
as she passes through their midst.

The sky and clouds bend down before her;
the thunder claps, praising her Son;
the rain and dew envy her breasts:
for they indeed nourish the plants,
but she fed the Lord of the plants.
The Liturgical Year: Book 13

FROM THE ORTHODOX WAY OF LIFE 
ORTHODOX CHURCH DORMITION OF MARY THE THEOTOKOS

Assumption of Mary into Heaven and Apostle Thomas
The Dormition of the Mother of God took place while Thomas was preaching the Gospel in India. All the other Apostles had been caught up from various lands on the clouds of heaven, and were transported to Gethsemane, to the bier of the all-blessed Virgin. But Thomas was not brought at the time of the others so the faithful could be assured that the Mother of God was bodily assumed into Heaven. For just like they were more assured of the Resurrection of Christ, through the disbelief of Thomas, in a similar way they learned of the bodily assumption into heaven of the all-pure Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, through the delay of Thomas.
It was on the third day after her burial that Thomas was suddenly caught up in a cloud in India and transported to a place in the air above the tomb of the Virgin. From that vantage point, he witnessed the translation of her body into the heavens, and cried out to her,"Where are you going O all-holy one?" And, removing her cincture, she gave it to Thomas, saying, "Receive this, my friend."And then she was gone.
Thomas then descended to find the other disciples keeping watch over her tomb. He sat down beside them, with the cincture in his hand, sad that he was not there with them when she repose. He said,"We are all disciples of the Master; we all preach the same thing; we are all servants of one Lord, Jesus Christ. How, then, is it that ye were counted worthy to behold the repose of His Mother, and I was not? Am I not an Apostle? Can it be that God is not pleased with my preaching? I beseech you, my fellow disciples: open the tomb, that I also may look upon her remains, and embrace them, and bid her farewell.
Taking pity on him, the Apostles opened the tomb so he could venerate the sacred relics. When they opened the tomb, they were all aghast when they discovered that her remains had vanished, not realizing that just moments before she had been bodily transported to paradise. All that remained were the burial clothes, which emitted a wonderful fragrance. They stood in amazement and then each of them kissed the burial clothes which were lying in the tomb. They then prayed to the Lord that He would reveal to them where the body of the Theotokos had been transported.
WHAT IS A CINCTURE ?
In Biblical times, the cincture or girdle was made of leather or cloth. It is significant that the Virgin left her cloth cincture to the Apostle Thomas and, subsequently, to the Church. The girdle, placed around the middle and the loins, wherein is the seat of desire, signifies the mortification of carnal desires. We know that the immaculate Virgin Mother subdued the passions. We chant during the service of the Deposition of the Cincture of the Theotokos (commemorated on the 31st of August) that thy cincture as the garment of thy virginity and bridehood, is truly shown to be a most honorable wedding chamber, O Theotokos. Saint Joseph the Hymnographer understood that the precious relic of the Virgin's cincture or girdle was left to us as a surety of her mediation and assistance to Orthodox strugglers for purity and chastity. Hence, he chants, The heart is renewed which touches the sacred cincture of the Virgin with fervent faith, for it is girded about with invincible power against impure passions and remains unscathed by incorporeal foes. Thus, it is meaningful when, in the taking of the Great Angelic Habit, the candidate receives the girdle and is told to "gird his loins with the power of truth, for mortification of body and renewal of spirit, and for courage and caution, in fulfillment of Christ's commandment."
Life of The Virgin Mary pp 481-483

The Holy Belt, according to the tradition, was made by the Blessed Virgin Mary herself with camel hair. The Empress Zoi, wife of Leo 6th the Wise, out of gratitude for her miraculous cure, embroidered the Belt with gold thread, as it is found today, but divided in three pieces. Originally it was being kept in Jerusalem and later in Constantinople. There during the 12th century under Manuel A' Komninos (1143-1180) an official holiday for the Belt was established on August 31st. In the end, Emperor John the 6th Katakouzinos (1347-1355), who had a special love toward the Holy Great Monastery of Vatopedi, as is evidence by many related accounts, donated the Belt to the Monastery. Since then the Holy Belt is kept at the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi, in a silver case of newer manufacture which depicts the Monastery.
SUNDAY WITH THE MOST HOLY VIRGIN THEOTOKOS SUNDAY WITH THE MOST HOLY VIRGIN THEOTOKOS Reviewed by Francisco Nascimento on 16:43 Rating: 5

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