On the Feast of the Assumption

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There was a beautiful reading in the Office of Readings today. I thought I should share it, especially with John Wright.

St. John of Damascus was a Syrian monk and priest, from the same stock from which the Maronites descended. He lived in the monastery of Mar Saba near Jerusalem in the seventh century.

From a homily by Saint John Damascene, priest
(Homily 9 on the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 3, 7-8, 10: PG 96. 727, 734-735)

You have borne for us the clothing of immortality

Once indeed God ejected the mortals and first parents of the human race from the paradise of Eden, when they had drunk deeply from the wine of disobedience and had become so affected by the hangover of sin through the intoxication of that transgression which led to the sleepiness of the mind’s eye. Now, however, shall not paradise receive her who repelled the onslaught of all sin, producing the seed of obedience to God and Father, and bringing forth life for all races of mortal men? How can death devour this truly blessed woman, who gave birth to the whole person of the Word of God through union with God? How can hell receive her? When Christ, who is the way and the truth, said Where I am, there will my servant be also, why would there not be a dwelling for his own mother with him with an even greater justification? It is well said that precious in the sight of the Lord God of Hosts is the death of his saints: but even more precious is the passing of the Mother of God from this life.

Then Adam and Eve, the founders of our race, exclaimed with a loud voice in great rejoicing: “Blessed are you, O daughter, who bore for us the penalties of the commands that had been broken. When you had gained a mortal body from us, you gave birth to a covering of immortality for us. You repaid us so that it might be well with us, since you received birth from our loins. From beyond the grave you have called us back to our ancient seat: we closed paradise for ourselves, but you made open the way of the tree of life. Through our actions sadness came forth from happiness; through you even more joyful things have returned from sorrow. In what possible way could you be acceptable to death, O Immaculate one? You are the bridge of life and the ladder to heaven: you are a boat over the sea of death reaching to immortality.”

But the woman herself, as she did not shrink from the truth, said: “Into your hands, my Son, I commend my spirit. Receive this soul which is dear to you, which you have preserved free from any sin. I hand over my body, not to the earth, but to you. Take me to yourself, that where you are, you, the child of my womb, so there I also may be your companion. I am hastening to you, who have often come to me on this side of that long distance.”

When she had said this, she heard in reply: “Come to my rest, my blessed Mother: arise, come, my beloved, most blessed among all women. Behold, the winter is ended. You are all fair, my beloved, and there is no spot of stain found in you: the odor of your ointments are more precious than all other aromas.”

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