His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH's
Pastoral Message for the Feast of The Dormition
In thy birth-giving, O Theotokos, thou didst keep and preserve virginity; and in thy falling-asleep thou hast not forsaken the world; for thou wast translated into life, being the Mother of Life. Wherefore, by thine intercessions, deliver our souls from death. (Apolytikion of the Dormition)
We greet you with love and joy on this Feast of the Dormition of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos!
The Apolytikion quoted above transmits to us the essence of this feast. The Most Holy Lady Theotokos, in her falling asleep, has shown us the true meaning of the term “falling asleep in Christ”. We do not focus on her death, but rather her translation from her earthly life to her eternal life in heaven.
The life of the Theotokos is a model which shows us that a human being can indeed be completely united with God in her mind, soul, and body. Of course we revere her because she gave birth to our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ. But we also revere her for her virtuous life, her complete and unconditional obedience to God and for her power as our primary intercessor with her Son.
This great feast of the Theotokos marks the final great feast of the Liturgical year, and the new Liturgical year will begin on September 1st. We convey our most heartfelt love to you as we celebrate this joyous feast and we ask the Mother of our Lord to intercede for the salvation of us all.
Yours in Christ,
+ J O S E P H
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America