A conversation between a church father and some children, Anna, Lucy.. … that will help you all understand the dormition story of blessed Mother Mary better….
Church father :In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen. As we celebrate the dormition of the Theotokos, so let’s understand what it is?…What does dormition mean?…Anna….
Anna : It means about the Theotokos…
Church father :Well, What does the word dormition in general mean? It does not mean about the Theotokos specifically…
Child 1 : When someone dies and the soul goes off to heaven…
Church father :When any person dies, its a dormition. Dormition means falling asleep. Now we call the dormition of the Theotokos and we kind of shorten it like the dormition right? Its like you guys have a long name ? For e.g Anna George Park, but people just call you Anna, and everybody knows who you are..So when we say dormition, we say the dormition of the Theotokos. But the word dormition means to sleep. Now why would we say that when someone dies, they fall asleep ?…
Anna :Because they are not really dead, they are going to the next world…
Church father : That’s right…
Child 2 :For God, its just falling asleep…
Church father : That’s right, For God, its just falling asleep. To God everyone’s alive…isn’t it?? True… So we say that Christians sleep, because what’s gonna happen at the end of the world???
Yes go ahead..Lucy..
Lucy :Its going to be the last judgement, when God is going to decide who is going to hell or heaven…
Church father :Yes, that’s true, now we say that a Christian sleeps because when Jesus comes from the east, over the mount of olives, He is going to start the judgement and it is going to be real fast and then we will be with Him, and we will not be asleep, we will be alive, with our bodies and with our souls. Now let’s tell the story about the dormition of the Theotokos. Let’s start backwards, from the time, She was at cross of Christ.
Now…. what did Jesus say to somebody, so that she would go and live in his home?? Anna….
Anna :He said to John ” Behold, thy mother, go and take her to your home “.
Church father :That’s right… So He told John ” Behold, your mother ” and so John took care of her, he took care of the Theotokos and she lived in his home for a long time and she knew many of the apostles, all of them and she was a mother to them. She taught them many many things that her son had taught her, and so she lived, maybe 30 or 40 years after the resurrection and then she was living in Jerusalem or some area near to it, because she was buried in Gethsemane. Now she wanted the apostles to come and visit her before she died. She knew she was going to die.
Tell me the story, what happened??….anybody else wanna say…
Ok Anna go ahead….
Anna :All the apostles visited her, except for one apostle, I don’t remember his name….
Church father :Oh!!! its easy to remember his name..😃
Child 2 :Thomas
Church father :Thomas…Was Thomas ever late before..??
Church father :Where was he late before?
Anna :At the resurrection..
Church father :Ya, remember that story, on the day of the resurrection, Thomas wasn’t there, and when all the apostles said that He appeared to them, he didn’t believe, until eight days later, when the Lord came again….
Child 3 :And Thomas said that he would only believe if he could put his finger on the wound where it was pierced…
Church father :Yeah, that’s right…so Thomas was late again..so they buried the Theotokos, first of all they kissed her and were ready for her to die and she died, then she was put in a tomb, the apostles sang many hymns, and then what happened to Thomas??..
I will tell you what happened. Thomas came
Child 1:Three days later…
Church father :Yes Thomas came but three days later, but what did Thomas want?
Child 2:He wanted to see the Theotokos…
Church father :He wanted to see the Theotokos because he loved her very much. So the apostles went into the tomb and opened up the tomb and Thomas went into the tomb and did he find the Theotokos?
Church father :No, so what happened to the Theotokos?
Child 3 :She went to heaven.
Church father :How?…her son right?…
Jesus came and resurrected her and she came to heaven. There are only two people that have ever died and resurrected and gone to heaven. Do you know those two people?
Children :Yes, Jesus and the Theotokos.
Church father :Yes,Jesus and the Theotokos. Now there are two other people who have not died and went into heaven. Do you know who those two people are?
Church father :Elijah and..??
Child 1 :Lazarus
Church father :Lazarus died, because he was risen from the dead in the tomb and he was wrapped like a mummy and everything. Do you remember that story?…..
It’s Enoch, from a long time ago, in Genesis.
(Children respond we do not know much about Enoch…..)
Church father :You do not know much about Enoch, but you know Elijah right? How did he get to heaven.?
Children :In a fiery chariot…
Church father :Fiery chariot with fiery horses and everything. So, but the Theotokos was raised from the dead. She was the first person that Jesus Christ raised from the dead and brought to heaven. He was resurrected, He resurrected of his own power and went upto heaven and then when the Theotokos died 30 or 40 years later, He resurrected her and she went to heaven. Let us look at the following hymn….
In giving birth, thou didst preserve thy virginity
In thy dormition, thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos
Thou was translated unto life, since thou art the mother of life
And by thine intersessions, dost thou redeem our souls from dead.
What does this hymn mean.?
In giving birth, thou didst preserve thy virginity
Does a virgin have babies?
Church father :What does it take to have babies?
Children :A husband
Church father :Yes, a husband. You got to have a husband. It was a miracle. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The Theotokos was a virgin and the church teaches this, you will understand this later as you grow a little older that the Theotokos is always a virgin, before and during and after the childbirth. If you ever see an icon of her, and there are three stars on her, that means she is a virgin before, during and after childbirth and you will understand more about that when you grow older. So, In giving birth, thou didst preserve thy virginity, so she was always a virgin. Did the Theotokos have any other babies besides Jesus?…
No, not at all, right?
Church father :In thy dormition, thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos
So we said what dormition means?
Dormition means she died right…but we do not say died, we say she fell asleep, because we know that all of us are going to wake up..aren’t we?
Child 2 :On the last judgement
Church father :Yes,
Now, Thou was translated unto life, since thou art the mother of life. Do we understand what that means ?, we already know…
Translated means brought up or moved.
What happened to the Theotokos after she died?
She went to heaven, she was translated to heaven…its a fancy word but you should learn these words because it is used within the church.
she went upto heaven and the hymn tells us why ?….since thou art the mother of life
Who is she the mother of?
Church father :Jesus and He gave us life.
Now let’s talk a little bit about the gospel and we will go on…
Gospel from mathew…When the Theotokos found out that she was pregnant with Jesus, the angel also told her that somebody whom she knew and loved, also was pregnant.
Who is that?
Child 2:Elizebeth with John
Church father :John the baptist
Child 3 :John the baptist knew that Jesus was in Mother Mary ‘s womb.
Church father :Well, how do we know that?
So Mary comes with a womb, and Jesus was very tiny. A baby gets bigger and bigger in a mommy ‘s tummy.
She just found out that she was pregnant and John who was in his mother’s tummy, in Elizabeth’s womb leaped in her womb with joy . How can it happen?
Its a miracle. God can enlighten us.
And so what did Theotokos say about herself and what are reasons why we so often honour her?
She said ” All generations will call me blessed” and so we love the Theotokos because she is the mother of our Lord and she was the most OBEDIENT person other than Jesus who have ever lived.
Do you have any questions about the dormition?
Child 3:Why in the icon is Jesus holding the baby?
Church father :That’s a very good question
Lucy : That’s the Theotokos’ soul.
Church father :That’s right. That’s the Theotokos’ soul and her body because He took the Theotokos up
Let’s take a look at the icon
Obviously this is the bier and a bier is just a bed to put the person on.
And she’s laying there dead on the bed.
Who are all these people with her?
Children :The apostles
Church father :Yes, the apostles.
Child 1 :What’s that four winged thing?
Church father : Just the cherubim angels, because angels are with us all the time.
Anna :This man here tried to cut of the Theotokos’ hand, but by then the angel came and cut off his hand.
Church father :He didn’t try to cut of her hand, he just tried to stop the bier or knock at her..Was he healed?
Anna : Yes
Church father :He repented and he was healed.
Now this is Christ and just look at the Theotokos, does she look like a baby there or does she look different?…
Children : She looks different
Church father :Right, she looks like a little adult. Because Theotokos was not a baby when she died, was she?
Children : No
Church father :So sometime within the three days after she died, we don’t know when, because nobody saw Jesus taking the Theotokos to heaven.
The icon shows two things happening once. The apostles were praying when the Theotokos died, they were having a funeral for her and then sometime later, when the apostles were not there and the Theotokos was in the grave, Jesus took the Theotokos’ body and soul to heaven.
So these were few things about the dormition of the Theotokos. You should pray to the Theotokos everyday. We pray to the Theotokos because we know that God hears the prayers of his righteous ones and his saints. Is there any person more righteous than the Theotokos?…
Children : Yes God.
Church father :Yes Jesus is more righteous than the Theotokos because He is God. But what about a human being more righteous than the Theotokos?…
The Theotokos is the most righteous…we pray to her because we believe from James that “The effective and fervent prayers of the righteous man availeth much”. So always remember to pray to her and ask her to help you in all things.