“In that we have beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus,
the only sinless one.

Thy Cross do we adore, O Christ,
and Thy holy Resurrection we praise and glorify.

For Thou art our God,
and we know none other beside Thee;
we call upon Thy name.

O come, all ye faithful,
let us adore Christ’s holy Resurrection,
for, lo!
through the Cross is joy come into all the world.

Ever blessing the Lord,
let us sing His Resurrection,
for in that He endured the Cross for us,
He hath destroyed death by death.”

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The majority of the Christian world will celebrate The Feast of the Assumption today, in honor of the death and rise to heaven of the Virgin Mary, or as the Orthodox refer to her, the Theotokos.  Today, in honor of her life as the mother of Christ, for being a willing servant, for answering the call of God, I’m celebrating by posting a classic homily from Saint John of Kronstadt.  While many evangelicals might be frightened by the language of the homily…Saying Mary was resurrected on the third day after her death…We must keep in mind that this has been a historical teaching of the Catholic and Orthodox world for centuries, and that we evangelicals, though we might think we are the prevalent faction, are the minority in terms of our opinions on Mary.  We don’t hear the story of Mary’s demise in the Bible, but we do know that it is within God’s power to resurrect the dead, and in looking at the example of Enoch and Elijah,  to “assume” a living, glorified body into heaven. 

If the theological implications of  the Catholic/Orthodox view of Mary are just too much for you, don’t stop reading.  After the first two paragraphs, St. John of K. delivers a beautiful lesson on the hope of resurrection, the value of virtue, and the indwelling Spirit.

Hope you enjoy!

Assumption of the Holy Virgin, Irina Kolbneva

Magnify O my soul, the honourable Translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven.” (Refrain for the 9th Ode of the Canon)

Let us be happy, beloved brothers and sisters that we belong to the Holy Orthodox Church, worthily and rightly glorifying the Most Holy Sovereign Theotokos on this eminent day out of all the days of the year with special solemnity. There exists on earth many societies and entire governments that do not consider the need nor the obligation to call upon and glorify the Queen of heaven and earth, the Mother of Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ, and other saints and angels; to submissively serve Her lovingly, as the true Mother of God. Sadly in Russia nowadays we have heretics (among us) who actively dishonor the Mother of God, the saints, their icons, their relics and their festivals. O, if only they also unanimously with us glorified the worthy Queen of heaven and earth!

Today the Holy Church solemnly glorifies the honorable Dormition or translation of the Mother of God from earth to heaven. A wonderful translation – she died without serious illness, peacefully. Her soul is taken up in the divine hands of Her Son and carried up into the heavenly abode, accompanied by the sweet singing of angels. And then, her most pure body is transferred by the apostles to Gethsemane where it is honorably buried, and on the third day it is resurrected and taken up to heaven. You see this on the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos. On it is represented the life-bearing body of the Theotokos laying on a bier, surrounded by the apostles and hierarchs, and in the center of the icon the Lord holding in His hands the most pure soul of the Theotokos. The translation of the Mother of God is a paradigm of the translation in general of the souls of Christians to the other world.

We say that our dead have “fallen asleep” or “passed away.” What does this mean? This means that for the true Christian there is no death. Death was conquered by Christ on the cross. But there is a translation, i.e, a rearrangement of his condition, i.e. his soul is in another place, in another age, in another world beyond the grave, eternal, without end, that is what is meant by “falling asleep”. It is as if it were a temporary dream after which, by the voice of the Lord and the fearful yet wonderful trumpet of the Archangel, all the dead shall live and come forth each to his place: either to the resurrection of life or to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:29). This is what the Christian means by translation. We should be ready for this translation, for the day of the general resurrection and judgment, for this indescribable world event, recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

This preparation for the meeting of the heavenly King before the dread judgment seat, after death, is essentially the person’s preparation throughout the whole of his life. This preparation means a change in all his thoughts, and the moral change of all his being, so that the whole man would be pure and white as snow, washing clean everything that defiles the body and spirit, so that he is adorned with every virtue: repentance, meekness, humility, gentleness, simplicity, chastity, mercifulness, abstention, spiritual contemplation, and burning love for God and neighbor.

Our preparation for meeting the heavenly King, and for the inheritance of eternal life in heaven, should consist of these things. The heavenly King desires souls adorned with immutable virtue, souls prepared so that the Very Lord Himself could abide in them. Do not marvel that the Very Lord wants to live in us. In fact the human soul is more spacious than the heavens and the earth, for it exists in the image of God. And if one removes sins from the soul, the Lord of all will settle in it and will fill it with Himself. “We will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23), says the Lord about the souls who love Him.

And so, ye participants in the Christian feasts, and especially the present feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, ye who are brightly adorned with every virtue and translated to the heavenly kingdom, to Her Son and God, proclaim to each and every one about preparing their souls to be the dwelling place of the Lord, about continual repentance, and about the incorruptible adornment of Christian virtue. Let your death also be unashamed and peaceful, serving as the pledge of a good answer at the dread judgment seat of Christ. Amen.

Saint John of Kronstadt

To learn more about the life of St. John of Kronstadt, click here