Transfiguration of Christ and the Falling Asleep (Успение) or Dormition of the Theotokos

The Transfiguration of Christ is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, celebrated on August 6 and August 19 (according to Old Calendarists), using the Gregorian Calendar, Julian Calendar, and Revised Julian Calendar.

Jesus had gone with his disciples Peter, James, and John to Mount Tabor. Christ’s appearance was changed while they watched into a glorious radiant figure. There appeared Elijah and Moses, speaking with Jesus. The disciples were amazed and terribly afraid.

This event shows forth the divinity of Christ, so that the disciples would understand after his Ascension that He was truly the radiant splendor of the Father, and that his Passion was voluntary (Mark 9:2-9). It also shows the possibility of our own theosis.

This event was the subject of some debates between Gregory Palamas and Barlaam of Calabria. Barlaam believed that the light shining from Jesus was created light, while Gregory maintained the disciples were given grace to perceive the uncreated light of God. This supported Gregory’s larger argument that although we cannot know God in His essence, we can know Him in his energies, as He reveals Himself.

Accounts of the Transfiguration are found in the Bible: Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-9, Luke 9:28-36, and II Peter 1:16-19.

Kontakion (Tone 7)

On the Mountain You were Transfigured, O Christ God,

And Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it;

So that when they would behold You crucified,

They would understand that Your suffering was voluntary,

And would proclaim to the world,

That You are truly the Radiance of the Father!

The Feast of the Dormition of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 15 each year. The Feast commemorates the repose (dormition and in the Greek kimisis) or “falling-asleep” of the Mother of Jesus Christ, our Lord. The Feast also commemorates the translation or assumption into heaven of the body of the Theotokos.

The Holy Scriptures tell us that when our Lord was dying on the Cross, He saw His mother and His disciple John and said to the Virgin Mary, “Woman, behold your son!” and to John, “Behold your mother!” (John 19:25-27). From that hour, the Apostle took care of the Theotokos in his own home.

Along with the biblical reference in Acts 1:14 that confirms that the Virgin Mary was with the Holy Apostles on the day of Pentecost, the tradition of the Church holds that she remained in the home of the Apostle John in Jerusalem, continuing a ministry in word and deed.

At the time of her death, the disciples of our Lord who were preaching throughout the world returned to Jerusalem to see the Theotokos. Except for the Apostle Thomas, all of them including the Apostle Paul were gathered together at her bedside. At the moment of her death, Jesus Christ himself descended and carried her soul into heaven.

Following her repose, the body of the Theotokos was taken in procession and laid in a tomb near the Garden of Gethsemane. When the Apostle Thomas arrived three days after her repose and desired to see her body, the tomb was found to be empty. The bodily assumption of the Theotokos was confirmed by the message of an angel and by her appearance to the Apostles.

The Icon of the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos shows her on her deathbed surrounded by the Apostles. Christ is standing in the center (1.) looking at His mother. He is holding a small child clothed in white representing the soul of the Virgin Mary. With His golden garments, the angels above His head, and the mandorla surrounding Him, Christ is depicted in His divine glory.
The life of the Virgin Mary offers us a great example of obedience and sacrifice. As we pray to Her for her guidance and prayers, may She always be a source of protection and love! Fr. Demetrios Kazakis St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, West Babylon, NY.
Recorded Live services from the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City, PA