celebrated 15/28 August
Wednesday September 1, 2021 / August 19, 2021
11th Week after Pentecost. Tone one.
Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
Martyr Andrew Stratelates and 2,593 soldiers with him in Cilicia (3rd c.). St. Nicholas priest (1933). St. Pitirim, bishop of Perm (1455). Martyrs Timothy, Agapius, and Thecla of Palestine (304). Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos “Of the Don” (1591).
The Dormition (Falling Asleep) of the Theotokos is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on August 15. For those churches using the Julian Calendar, this feast falls on August 28 in the secular calendar. The Feast of the Dormition, which is also sometimes called the Assumption, commemorates the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ’s mother. It proclaims that Mary has been “assumed” by God into the heavenly kingdom of Christ in the fullness of her spiritual and bodily existence.
About the feast
According to Orthodox Tradition, Mary died like all humanity, “falling asleep,” so to speak, as the name of the feast indicates. She died as all people die, not “voluntarily” as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world. The feast was added to the Roman calendar in the seventh century as the Dormitio. In the eighth century, the title was changed to the Assumptio (Assumption).
Thomas arrived a few days later, and desiring to see her one more time, convinced the others to open her tomb. Upon doing so, the Apostles discovered that her body was no longer present. This event is seen as a firstfruits of the resurrection of the faithful that will occur at the Second Coming of Christ. The event is normally called the Dormition, though there are many Orthodox parishes in English-speaking countries with the name Assumption. In Greek, Dormition is Koimisis—falling asleep in death—from which the word cemetery derives.
As with the nativity of the Virgin and the feast of her entrance to the temple, there are no biblical or historical sources for this feast. The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary is without personal sins, as well that Mary truly needed to be saved by Christ as all human persons are saved from the trials, sufferings, and death of this world. She truly died and was raised up by her Son as the Mother of Life and participates already in the eternal life of paradise. This life of paradise is prepared and promised to all who “hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:27-28)
Celebration of the feast
The feast is preceded by 14 days of strict fasting, with the exceptions that fish is eaten on the Feast of the Transfiguration (August 6). On weekdays before the feast, either the Great Paraklesis (service of supplication) or the Small Paraklesis is celebrated.
On the eve of the feast, Vespers is served and contains three Old Testament readings that have New Testament meaning. In Genesis 28:10-17, Jacob’s Ladder which unites heaven and earth points to the union of God with men which is realized most fully and perfectly in Mary the bearer of God. “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” In Ezekiel 43:27-44:4, the vision of the temple with the door to the East perpetually closed and filled with the glory of the Lord, symbolizes Mary. And in Proverbs 9:1-11, Mary is also identified with the “house” which the Divine Wisdom has built for herself.
Sometimes Matins is served on the morning of the feast. The Gospel reading is from Luke 1:39-49, 56. It is read on all feasts of the Theotokos and includes the Theotokos’ saying: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden, for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”
Divine Liturgy is served on the day on the feast. In some churches, it is the custom to bless flowers on this feast before the Liturgy. The epistle reading is from Philippians 2:5-11, and speaks of “Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” The gospel reading is taken from Luke 10:38-42 and 11:27-28 together; this reading is also always read on all feasts of the Theotokos. In it, the Lord says, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Troparion (Tone 1) In giving birth you preserved your virginity,In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos.You were translated to life, O Mother of Life,And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.
Kontakion (Tone 2)Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.For being the Mother of Life,She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.
Troparion (Tone 4)Dance with joy, O peoples!Clap your hands with gladness!Gather today with fervor and jubilation;Sing with exultation.The Mother of God is about to rise in glory,Ascending from earth to heaven.We ceaselessly praise her in song as truly Theotokos.
Kontakion (Tone 4)Today the universe dances with joy at your glorious memorial,And cries out to you, O Mother of God:”Rejoice, O Virgin, pride of Christians!”
The icon of Panagia Ierosolymitissa located inside the Sepulcher of the Theotokos.
Source Sermon by Reverend Thomas Hopko
St. Martyr Andrew Stratelates
The Martyr Andrew (Andreios) Stratelates
Commemorated on August 19
The Martyr Andrew (Andreios) Stratelates was a military commander in the Roman armies during the reign of the emperor Maximian (284-305). They loved him in the Roman armies because of his bravery, invincibility and sense of fairness. When a large Persian army invaded the Syrian territories, the governor Antiochus entrusted Saint Andrew with the command of the Roman army, giving him the title of “Stratelates” (“Commander-General”). Saint Andrew chose for himself a not large detachment of brave soldiers and proceeded against the adversary. His soldiers were pagans. Saint Andrew himself had still not accepted Baptism, but he believed in Jesus Christ. Before the conflict he persuaded the soldiers, that the pagan gods – were demons and unable to render help in battle. He proclaimed to them Jesus Christ, the omnipotent God of Heaven and earth, giving help to all believing in Him. The soldiers went into battle, calling on the help of the Saviour. The not large detachment set to flight the numerous host of the Persians. Saint Andrew returned from the campaign in glory, having gained a total victory. But the jealous reported on him to the governor Antiochus, that he – was a Christian, converting to his faith the soldiers under his command. Saint Andrew was summoned to trial, and there he declared his faith in Christ. For this they subjected him to torture. He reclined himself upon a bed of white-hot copper, but as soon as he recoursed to help from the Lord, the bed became cool. They crucified his soldiers on trees, but not one of them renounced Christ. Having locked the saints away in prison, Antiochus dispatched the report of charges on to the emperor, being undecided on whether to impose the death sentence upon the acclaimed victor. The emperor knew, how the army loved Saint Andrew, and fearing a mutiny, he gave orders to free the martyrs, and secretly he ordered that each under some pretext be executed separately.
Having been set free, Saint Andrew together with his fellow soldiers went on to the city of Tarsus. There the local bishop Peter and bishop Nonos of Beroeia baptised them. Then the soldiers proceeded on to the vicinity of Taxanata. Antiochus wrote a letter to the governor of the Cilicia region Seleukos, that under the excuse of deserting their military standards he should overtake the company of Saint Andrew and kill them. Seleukos came upon the martyrs in the passes of Mount Tauros, where they were evidently soon to suffer. Saint Andrew, calling the soldiers his brothers and children, urged them not to fear death. He prayed for all who would honour their memory, and besought the Lord to send a curative spring on the place where their blood would be shed. At the time of this prayer the steadfast martyrs were beheaded with swords (+ c. 302). During this time a spring of water issued forth from the ground. Bishops Peter and Nonos, with their clergy secretly following the company of Saint Andrew, buried their bodies. One of the clergy, suffering for a long time from an evil spirit, drank from the spring of water and at once he was healed. Reports about this spread amongst the local people and they started to come to the spring, and through the prayers of Saint Andrew and the 2593 Martyrs suffering with him, they received gracious help from God.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
September 14th/1st September
1. THE BEGINNING OF THE CHURCH YEAR, OR THE BEGINNING OF THE INDICTION
The First Ecumenical Council [Nicaea, 325] decreed that the Church year should begin on September 1. The month of September was, for the Hebrews, the beginning of the civil year (Exodus 23:16), the month of gathering the harvest and of the offering of thanks to God. It was on this feast that the Lord Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21), opened the book of the Prophet Isaiah and read the words: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2). The month of September is also important in the history of Christianity, because Emperor Constantine the Great was victorious over Maxentius, the enemy of the Christian Faith, in September. Following this victory, Constantine granted freedom of confession to the Christian Faith throughout the Roman Empire. For a long time, the civil year in the Christian world followed the Church year, with its beginning on September 1. The civil year was later changed, and its beginning transferred to January 1. This occurred first in Western Europe, and later in Russia, under Peter I.
SAINT SIMEON THE STYLITE
Simeon the Stylite, the first of the pillar-dwellers, An illuminated elder, with the radiance of an immortal, Bound himself to the pillar as a willing sacrifice; He was fully alive to heaven, and dead to the earth. Fasting and prayer and all-night vigils– By this hard path he sought salvation. Early one morning, his mother came by: “O Son, come down and let your mother see you!” Thus she spoke, but Simeon was silent. The mother repeated her plea again and again…. Simeon at last replied to his mother: “I am in the service of the Heavenly King. This life is a struggle and a preparation. There is no time for empty conversation here. But go, Mother, and choose the pure path– Take care for your soul and live according to Christ! After the present struggle is the next world; If Christ finds us worthy, You will see your son there, Mother, And your son will delight in his mother’s face.” REFLECTION
We should use all that is necessary in this world for the cultivation of our souls, for when death separates us from this world we will take nothing to the other world except our souls, in whatever state they have been formed here. When he was eighteen, St. Simeon the Stylite was so concerned about the salvation of his soul that one day he fell face down on the earth and prayed to God that He would show him the path of salvation. And lying thus in prayer for a long time, he had a vision that he was digging a trench for a foundation and, exhausted from digging, stopped to catch his breath. A voice spoke to him, saying: “Dig deeper!” Then he began, with greater labor and effort, to dig yet deeper. Again he stopped to catch his breath. But again he heard the voice: “Dig deeper!” He again began to dig, with even greater labor and effort. At this the voice spoke to him again: “Stop, it is sufficient! Now build what you wish to build; for without labor, you will succeed in nothing.” Those who labor little, and build the life of their soul on sensual shallowness, build on sand, which cannot uphold anything, even in this transitory world–and even more so in eternity.
Contemplate the lawlessness of David (II Samuel 11):
1. How David committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, while Uriah was away at war;
2. How David arranged the death of Uriah;
3. How God became angered with David.
on the Word, the Son of God
In the beginning was the Word (John 1:1).
The Logos–the rational, intelligent Word–existed in the beginning. This pertains to the Divine Nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. Brethren, by saying, In the beginning, do we think that the Word of God has a beginning? Or that there was a certain date in time when the Son of God was born of God the Father? In no way! For the birth of the Son of God can have neither a date nor a beginning, since time is a condition of this transient world, and it does not affect the eternal God, and therefore does not affect anything at all that is of God. Can the sun remain the sun, if the sunlight is separated from it? Will a man remain a man, if his mind is taken away? Would honey still be honey, if its sweetness is separated from it? It cannot. Even less can one conceive of God as separate from His Logos, from His rational Word, from His Intelligence, from His Wisdom–the eternal Father separate from His co-eternal Son.
No, brethren, the words are not about the beginning of the Son of God from God the Father, but rather about the beginning of the history of the created world and the salvation of mankind. This beginning is in the Word of God, in the Son of God. He began both the creation of the world and the salvation of the world. Whoever would speak of the creation of the visible or invisible worlds, or of the salvation of mankind, must begin with the Beginning. And that Beginning is the Word of God, the Wisdom of God, the Son of God. For example, if someone were telling a story about boating on a lake, he might begin it like this: “In the beginning there was a lake, and on it sailed a white boat….” No reasonable person would interpret the words, “In the beginning there was a lake…” to mean that the lake came into existence on the same day that the boat sailed on it. Thus, no rational man could take the words of the Evangelist, In the beginning was the Word…, as though the Word of God came forth from God at the same moment that the world was created! Just as the lake existed for thousands of years before the boat sailed on it, so the Word of God existed for a whole eternity before the beginning of creation.
O Son of God, co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, enlighten us and save us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.