The Dormition Fast: Ending another Year of Grace in Our Lord

The Byzantine Church since at least the 5th century has practiced a period of fasting prior to the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos. This ancient custom has much to offer contemporary Christians. Christians of the East have always recognized the mystery of Our Lady’s Dormition, her ‘falling asleep’ at the end of her natural life. The passage of Mary the Virgin Mother of God from this life to life eternal is a cause

The Great and Small Supplication (Paraklesis) Services to the Theotokos

There are two forms of the Paraklesis Canon to the Theotokos: the Small Paraklesis which was composed by Theosteriktos the Monk in the 9th century (or some say Theophanes), and the Great Paraklesis. During the majority of the year, only the Small Paraklesis to the Theotokos is chanted. However, during the Dormition Fast (August 1—14), the Typikon prescribes that the Small and Great Paraklesis be chanted on alternate evenings, according to the following regulations: –

The Sixteenth Day of Great Lent. Synaxis in Honor of the Archangel Gabriel

On the Leavetaking of the Feast of the Annunciation, the Church commemorates the Archangel Gabriel, who announced the great mystery of the Incarnation of Christ to the Virgin Mary.  Mindful of the manifold appearances of the holy Archangel Gabriel and of his zealous fulfilling of God’s will and confessing his intercession for Christians before the Lord, the Orthodox Church calls upon its children to pray to the great Archangel with faith and love. The Synaxis

Repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian

The Holy, Glorious All-Laudable Apostle and Evangelist, Virgin, and Beloved Friend of Christ, John the Theologian was the son of Zebedee and Salome, a daughter of Saint Joseph the Betrothed. He was called by our Lord Jesus Christ to be one of His Apostles at the same time as his elder brother James. This took place at Lake Gennesareth (i.e. the Sea of Galilee). Leaving behind their father, both brothers followed the Lord. The Apostle

The Dormition of the Ever-Virgin Mother of God

In the Communion of Saints, which is the true Church Universal and Catholic, the mystery of the New Humanity is disclosed as a new existential situation. And in this perspective and living context of the Mystical Body of Christ the person of the Blessed Virgin Mother appears in full light and full glory. The Church now contemplates her in the state of perfection. She is now seen as inseparably united with her Son, who “sitteth

The Fast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin (Part V)

By Father Leonidas Contos We would agree, I think, that to identify the “one thing” is not difficult for the Christian. To define it, however, is rather less easy. And to achieve that set of the soul that keeps us in steady pursuit of it is not easy at all. To say so is to mock the whole meaning of spiritual discipline and to devalue the lives of those few in each generation who are

The Fast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin (Part IV)

By Father Leonidas Contos Walt Whitman, one of our great modern American poets, suggests this inner conflict when he asserts: “There is more to me than is contained between my hat and my shoes!” One of the most celebrated experiments aimed at concentrating on the man between the hat and the shoes was conducted by another American, Henry David Thoreau, who died about a hundred years ago. Thoreau was what you might call a highly

The Fast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin (Part III)

By Father Leonidas Contos During the first fortnight of August, culminating in the Feast of the Dormition, or the Falling Asleep, of the Virgin Mary, there is sung each night in Orthodox churches a very beautiful office of supplication. In this service we alternate between two selections from the Gospel of Luke. In the one we read of the encounter between Mary and her elder cousin Elizabeth who is soon to bear a son in

The Fast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin (Part II)

By Father Leonidas Contos, LOS ANGELES, August 2, 1962 Orthodox theology refuses to see Mary as only the physical instrument of Christ’s birth. She is seen as a cooperating instrument in the work of redemption. Christ did not save the world, so to speak, automatically. He was not on earth as an alien thrust in, but lived as part of humanity, sharing its weakness, knowing its need. The grace He released into the world became

The Fast of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin (Part I)

By Father Leonidas Contos There are in the Orthodox tradition three principal periods of fasting during the ecclesiastical year; they are also the ones that are the least neglected. One is the forty-day period of Advent; the second is the forty-day period of Lent; the third is the fifteen-day fast which begins the first of August, and will end on the fifteenth with the commemoration of the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos. Among the three