August 27, 2012

John of Damascus, on the Dormition

John of Damascus, on the Dormition

This day the Ark of the living God even the holy and living Ark, wherein once its own Maker had been held, is borne to its resting place in that Temple of the Lord which is not made with hands. Her ancestor David leapeth before it. And in company with him the Angels dance, the Archangels sing aloud, the Virtues ascribe glory, the Principalities shout for joy, the Powers make merry, the Dominions rejoice, the Thrones keep holiday, the Cherubim utter praise, and the Seraphim proclaim its glory. This day the Eden of the new Adam receiveth her who was the living garden of delight, wherein the condemnation was annulled, wherein the Tree of Life was planted, wherein our nakedness was covered.

This day the spotless Virgin, who had been defiled by no earthly lust, but rather was enobled by heavenly desires, died only to live without returning to dust. For being herself a living heaven, she took her place today among the heavenly mansions. From her the true Life had flowed for all men, and how should she taste of death? But she yielded obedience to the law established by him to whom she had given birth, and , as the daughter of the old Adam, underwent the old sentence, which even her Son, who is the very Life itself, had not refused. But, as the Mother of the living God, she was worthily taken by him unto himself.

Eve, who had said yea to the proposals of the serpent, was condemned to the pains of travail and the punishment of death, and found her place in the shades of the Netherworld. But this truly blessed being had inclined her ears to the Word of God. Her womb had been filled by the action of the Holy Ghost. As soon as she heard the salutation of the Archangel, she conceived. And the Son of God thus was made Man in her womb, without any physical union or delectation, but solely by the Spirit. And she brought forth her Offspring without the pangs of travail. So was she altogether consecrate unto service of God. How was death ever to feed upon such an one as this? How was the grave ever to eat her up? How was corruption to break into that body into which Life had been welcomed? For her there was a straight, smooth, and easy way to heaven. For if Christ, who is the Life and the Truth, hath said: Where I am, there shall also my servant be: how much more shall not rather his Mother be with him?

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