Archbishop Nicolae’s Meditation for the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos

Archbishop Nicolae
At the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos it is beneficial for us to discover what the Holy Fathers of the Church teach us about honoring the Birthgiver of God, because all those who have dared to write about the Lord’s Mother have employed words of praise about her who gave the world God Incarnate.
St. Gregory Palamas questions even the ability of words to grasp the mystery of the Birthgiver of God: “What word could describe, Mother of God, Virgin, your godly, brilliant beauty? For it is not possible to grasp all your attributes in thought or word, since they are beyond the mind and words. But it is possible for us to praise you, who receive us out of your love for mankind. You are the dwelling place of all graces and the fullness of all beauty and all good, the living icon of virtue and of all goodness, the only one worthy to encompass all the gifts of the Spirit….” It is not possible for us to understand with our mind and to express the mystery of the Virgin Mary, but it is possible to praise her. Another father says that after the word is born in our mind, the soul breaks into song, which means that man’s attempt to contemplate the Mother of God cannot succeed unless that endeavor is transformed into a song of praise to the Birthgiver. We cannot talk about the Virgin, we can only hymn her. We cannot explain through words, we can only witness her mystery in praises.
Song brings us to thanksgiving, and the joy of thanksgiving becomes a new song, says a hymnologist of Mount Athos. And in this élan of song and thanksgiving we discover Christ, her Son, for where the Mother is, there is also the Son: “heavenly delight and joy beyond this world is the moment in which man grasps the mystery of the economy of the Incarnation through the mediation of the Most Holy Virgin. Mary with Jesus, Jesus with Mary, these two names most pure and most sweet—this is Paradise”, says Athanasius the Iberian.
In these words of the Fathers we discover the purpose of song and its benefit. The mysteries of God are unfathomable for the mind and hard to express in words. But in song the veil of mystery is lifted and we become partakers in the revelation of God. That which cannot be grasped with the mind and expressed in words is received directly by the spirit through song. Man’s spirit receives “heavenly delight and the joy which is above this world.”
The service held during the Fast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is the Paraklesis, while on the eve of the Feast the Lamentations for the Mother of God are sung. Both of these services fulfill what the Fathers say, for we marvel at the mystery of the Birthgiver of God and we praise her in songs: “Let us sing to the one who is higher than the heavens and purer than the radiance of the sun. She has delivered us from the ancient curse and is the mistress of the world” (Troparia of the Theotokos from the Paraklesis Service).
Let us too avail ourselves of these songs of praise to the Mother of God, and let us desire the revelation of these mysteries, to the joy and thanksgiving of those who are already entering into the eternal Kingdom of the Son of God and His Mother!
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