Feast of Mary Falling Asleep

August 15, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings:   Isaiah 61:10-11 / Psalm 34 / Galatians 4:4-7 / Luke 1:46-55 / Reflection: The Falling Asleep of Saint Mary

NOTE: Because this feast falls on a Sunday this year, celebration of it has been moved to Monday, August 16, 2021.

Invitatory

O come let us worship the King of kings. 

* This day was His Mother taken to the heavens above.

O come let us worship the King.

The Collect

O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. [1]


Icon of the Dormition by Theophan the Greek, 1392. The Theotokos is depicted lying on a bier, surrounded by the Twelve Apostles. At center, Jesus Christ is shown in a mandorla, swaddling the soul of the Virgin Mary (a red seraph is shown above his head). To either side of him are depicted the Hieromartyrs Dionysius the Areopagite and Ignatius the God-Bearer
(source)

Old Testament: Isaiah 61:10-11

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,

my whole being shall exult in my God;

for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,

he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,

and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

For as the earth brings forth its shoots,

and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,

so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise

to spring up before all the nations.


The Response: Psalm 34

Benedicam Dominum

1 I will bless the Lord at all times; *

his praise shall ever be in my mouth.

2 I will glory in the Lord; *

let the humble hear and rejoice.

3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord; *

let us exalt his Name together.

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me *

and delivered me out of all my terror.

5 Look upon him and be radiant, *

and let not your faces be ashamed.

6 I called in my affliction and the Lord heard me *

and saved me from all my troubles.

7 The angel of the Lord encompasses those who fear him, *

and he will deliver them.

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; *

happy are they who trust in him!

9 Fear the Lord, you that are his saints, *

for those who fear him lack nothing.

10 [The young lions lack and suffer hunger, *

but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good.

11 Come, children, and listen to me; *

I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

12 Who among you loves life *

and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?

13 Keep your tongue from evil-speaking *

and your lips from lying words.

14 Turn from evil and do good; *

seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, *

and his ears are open to their cry.

16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, *

to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.

17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears them *

and delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted *

and will save those whose spirits are crushed.

19 Many are the troubles of the righteous, *

but the Lord will deliver him out of them all.

20 He will keep safe all his bones; *

not one of them shall be broken.

21 Evil shall slay the wicked, *

and those who hate the righteous will be punished.

22 The Lord ransoms the life of his servants, *

and none will be punished who trust in him.


Icon of the Dormition by El Greco, 16th century (Cathedral of the Dormition, Ermoupolis).
(source)

The Epistle: Galatians 4:4-7

When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.


The Dormition: ivory plaque, late 10th to early 11th century (Musée de Cluny).
(source)

The Gospel: Luke 1:46-55

Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him

from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”


Uspenje presvete Bogorodice, 40-square-metre fresco from 1265, Sopoćani Monastery, Serbia.
(source)

Reflection 

The Falling Asleep of Saint Mary

“In the Kidron Valley, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, near the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations, lies Mary’s Tomb.” [1] Although most “Christians believe this to be the actual grave site of the mother of Jesus, no one will claim that her remains are still there…” [3]

The Anglican tradition of the Christian Faith was born in the First Century, in what are now the British Isles. Like other First Century Chistian traditions of the Faith, Anglicans mark and celebrate the occasion of Mary’s departure from this world – spiritually and physically (kind of like Elijah). “Most churches in the Anglican Communion commemorate this day as the ‘Falling Asleep of the Blessed Virgin Mary.’” [4] “In Orthodox and Catholic language of Scripture… death is often called ‘falling asleep’, in Greek and Latin coemeterium means a place of sleeping.” [5] 

Anglican theology of this event is vague; “some believe in her Assumption, which for us in an adiaphora (a thing different), the closest we have to a dogma” on this matter. [6] We are drawn to the reality that “[Saint] Mary the Virgin (as the Prayer Book refers to her), the Mother of God, [is] now above with her Son,” and – in a very Anglican way – exactly how this happened is not as important. [7] What is important, is that “the lowly maid who gave us Jesus the Christ; God the Son, with whom she shared a body and for who she was chosen… share[s] that heavenly sphere,” as the “Book of Revelation reveals: ‘a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars,’” (Rev. 12:1). [8] 

For us, Mary’s departure from this world is a model of the common destiny of all Christian people, by the resurrection of Christ, in the new world to come. “Our earthly path ends with the heavenly vision in the sight of God, although it’s not yet time for us to see beyond, for the moment we are here below, but this is what awaits us.” [9]

“Mary’s Tomb is deep under [a] cruciform church,” the Church of the Sepulchre of Saint Mary. [10] Many churches, destroyed over centuries of invasions, have been built to commemorate the site. However, “the crypt [of Mary] was left untouched, as for Muslims it is the burial place of the mother of prophet Isa (Jesus).” [11] Today, “visitors must bend down in order to enter the crypt, where they are greeted by a brilliant display of religious icons and medieval art. Inside, pilgrims pray and light candles, lending the enclosure a profound aura of peace and reverence.” [12] Much of the crypt is cut into solid rock. “The smell of incense fills the air, the ceiling is blackened by centuries of candle smoke, and gold and silver lamps hang in profusion.” [13]

“The New Testament may be silent on the end of Mary’s life, but several early… sources, such as Transitus Mariae, describe her death and burial in Jerusalem… [A]ccording to biblical scholar Lino Cignelli, ‘All of [these written works] are traceable back to a single primitive document, a Judaeo-Christian prototype, clearly written within the mother church of Jerusalem some time during the second century, and, in all probability, composed for liturgical use right at the Tomb of Our Lady. From the earliest times, tradition has assigned the authorship of the prototype to one Lucius Carinus, said to have been a disciple and fellow labourer with St John the Evangelist.’” [14] 

“The Assumption of Mary has been a subject of Christian art for centuries (and its feast day was made a public holiday in England by King Alfred the Great in the 9th century).” [15]

Koimesis Mosaic at the Chora Church, Constantinople.
(source)

Concluding Prayers of the Church

Concluding Prayers of the Church

A Liturgy of Praise for Mothers

We praise you, our God, for all mothers who have loved and laughed and laboured as they cared for their children;

    Blessed be God for ever.

We praise you, our God, for all mothers who have wept in sorrow and joy for their children:

    Blessed be God for ever.

We praise you, our God, for Jesus, born of a woman and nurtured in her love, and for Mary, a reminder of your patient, waiting love.

Blessed be God for ever.


Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] Episcopal Church. (n.d.). The Lessons Appointed for Use on the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin. Saint Mary the Virgin. https://www.lectionarypage.net/YearABC/HolyDays/MaryVirg.html

[2] Cross, P. (2016, September 1). Mary the dawn. Traditional Catholic Living. http://www.traditionalcatholicliving.com/mary-the-dawn-2/

[3] Fanfani, E. (2018, August 15). The Feast of Mary: The Falling Asleep or the Assumption. Retrieved August 07, 2020, from http://romananglican.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-feast-of-mary-falling-asleep-or.html?m=1

[4] Ibid. 3

[5] Ibid. 3

[6] Ibid. 3

[7] Ibid. 3

[8] Ibid. 3

[9] Ibid. 3

[10] The Tomb of Virgin Mary. (n.d.). Retrieved August 07, 2020, from https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/ent/marys-tomb/

[11] Tomb of the Virgin Mary. (2020, July 30). Retrieved August 07, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomb_of_the_Virgin_Mary

[12] The Tomb of Virgin Mary. (n.d.). Retrieved August 07, 2020, from https://www.itraveljerusalem.com/ent/marys-tomb/

[13] Tomb of Mary ” See The Holy Land. (n.d.). Retrieved August 07, 2020, from https://www.seetheholyland.net/tomb-of-mary/

[14] Ibid. 13

[15] Ibid. 13

[16] Church of England. (n.d.). The blessed Virgin Mary. The Church of England. https://www.churchofengland.org/prayer-and-worship/worship-texts-and-resources/common-worship/common-material/common-saints/blessed

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