Thursday, August 27, 2020

"You lately appeared to us as a newly-shining star of the Church, O Champion Phanourios..."

St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Newly-revealed, depicted at the famous Mandraki on the Island of Rhodes (where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood) (source)
You lately appeared to us as a newly-shining star of the Church, O Champion Phanourios, and through your revelation, you truly shine upon all the gifts of your hidden riches. Those who praise your all-famed memory cry out to you together: Rejoice, O soldier of Christ all-wondrous, who worked the struggle of piety as a champion. Rejoice, you who were nourished by the light of the Lord, and according to your name, you reveal the knowledge of things unknown. Rejoice, the adornment of the people Rhodes, the radiance of Martyrs, and the intercessor of all the faithful before the Lord. Entreat Him, we pray, on behalf of our souls.
-Doxastikon of the Stichera for the Feast of St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Newly-revealed

St. Phanourios the Great Martyr and Newly-revealed, with the scenes from his martyrdom (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Encomium on the Lord, and on that Cloth that touched His Immaculate Body

Icon depicting the Mandylion of Christ and His Passion (source)
Note: Elsewhere, the possibility that the famed Mandylion of Edessa (the original now seemingly lost to history) is one and the same as the Shroud of Turin, has been discussed (for example, see here for a talk by an Orthodox presenter on the subject). There are many places where the history and science that supports this are discussed and disputed at length. In this post, however, I humbly aim to use the style of the Byzantine Encomium to accomplish several things. First, may we ever give thanks to our Lord and Master for all His many blessings to us, and especially for enduring His Passion for our salvation. Also, I intend this to prayerfully contemplate the Cloth (or Cloths) that touched His Immaculate Body, and both the immense theological implications of this, and the many wonders that He worked and continues to work throughout the world for those simple and humble of heart, who are seeking His face. Finally, I aim to marvel at even the possibility that the Lord, in His love for man, could have somehow left us a vivid Icon of His Passion and Resurrection, and allowed this to pass throughout the world and the centuries, healing the sick, warding off enemies and overcoming nations, and, seemingly more impossible, how He could have allowed this Cloth to even reach our days of hardened hearts and little faith, where scientists continue to be astonished at this Relic. Many are struck to the heart with contrition, humility and repentance, and some are even being brought to faith in Him through this. "Thus shall many nations wonder at him; and kings shall keep their mouths shut: for they to whom no report was brought concerning him, shall see; and they who have not heard, shall consider." (Isaiah 52:15)
Encomium on the Lord, Who suffered, slept, and arose in the flesh for our salvation,
And on that Cloth that touched His Immaculate Body
“Let the light of Your countenance be signed upon us, O Lord” (Psalm 4:6), for to us who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death (Luke 1:79), the Lord has appeared, to bring light to those in darkness. His uncreated light shines upon all creation as the true radiance of the Father (Kontakion of the Transfiguation), though we sinners, filled with countless sins and passions and weakness, cannot bear to behold His glory.
For, if the God-seer was told by the Almighty “You shall not be able to see my face; for no man shall see my face, and live.” (Exodus 33:20), how might we dare to behold the radiance of His face, before which tremble Angels, Archangels, the Cherubim and Seraphim. The Great Moses could scarcely bear to behold His back, bowing to the earth to worship Him, proclaiming: “The Lord God, pitiful and merciful, long-suffering and very compassionate, and true.” (Exodus 33-34).
And His Prophet Isaiah, gazing upon the Lord of hosts in His glorious temple, cried out: “Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, I dwell in the midst of a people having unclean lips; and I have seen with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
For when the Prophet Ezekiel beheld the vision of His glory, he exclaimed “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And I saw and fell upon my face.” (Ezekiel 2:1)
Truly, His glory brings fear and trembling with great awe upon Heaven and earth and the things below the earth, as Prophet Habakkuk sang in prayer: “O Lord, I have heard your report, and was afraid: I considered your works, and was amazed. “(Habakkuk 3:2) It is He “Whose glance dries up the deep, and Whose threatenings melt the mountains” (Prayer from the service of Baptism).
But, despite His endless might and glory and radiance, He, in a manner surpassing understanding, deigns to reveal Himself and to come to us in all humility, in gentleness and simplicity, “the voice of a gentle breeze”, as He appeared to the Zealot Elias (I Kings 19:12). Or as Psalmist chants: “He shall come down as rain upon a fleece; and as drops falling upon the earth.” (Psalm 72:6)
O, Your wonders, surpassing all wonders, O Lord! “Who is like to thee among the gods, O Lord? who is like to thee? glorified in holiness, marvelous in glories, doing wonders.” (Exodus 15:11) For the Son of the Father, “Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father, through Whom all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit, and the Virgin Mary, and became man.” (The Symbol of Faith) “This is our God, and there shall none other be accounted of in comparison of him. He hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob his servant, and to Israel his beloved. Afterward did he shew himself upon earth, and conversed with men.” (Baruch 3:35-37).
The Lord did deign to come to us, humbling Himself, becoming conceived within the Spotless womb of the Virgin. He was born as a babe into a cave most cold and dark, He Who is the Light of the universe. He nursed milk from His creature, He Who nourishes all creation. He shows obedience, He to Whom every knee bows in heaven and earth and under the earth (Philippians 2:10). He puts off His garments, He Who clothes the Heavens with clouds. He is submerged in the waters of the Jordan, Who drowns error and disperses the hordes of the demons. He preaches, and heals both bodies and souls, that in every way, He might lead us back to the Father.
And He does not stop at this, but gives us His own Body and Blood, before His life-giving Passion. Behold! With the eyes of the soul, behold  “the true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” (John 1:9) Behold the Man of Sorrows, Who bends His knee in prayer to His Father, giving us a type of fervent prayer. He pours forth sweat as drops of blood, earnestly seeking to deliver the world from death. He endures the kiss of betrayal from one of His Disciples, and suffers buffetings, and scorn, and slander. The Judge of the living and the dead, the Judge most just, stands condemned as a criminal before Pilate. The Creator is bound by His creation, and bitterly flogged. His flesh is torn apart, Who wove garments of skin for the first-formed. He receives a Crown of Thorns, He Who is the King of Angels, Whose glory cannot be fathomed. He receives spitting, Who formed eyes for the blind man with His spittle, and the Purple Robe of mockery, Who adorned the vault of the Heavens, and Who holds the universe in His palm. He carries His Cross, Who carries time and space upon His shoulders, and stretches out His hands, uniting things that were once sundered.
One of the very early depictions of the Holy Mandylion of Christ, dated likely to the 12th Century (source)
“Let the light of Your countenance be signed upon us, O Lord.” Behold, behold the marks of the nails, the wounds on His precious head, the blood and water pouring from His life-giving side! Behold! The glory that surpasses all things humbles Himself, and endures everything, becoming “obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8) He breathes His last, and gives up His spirit, leaving us His life-giving Body, and the Instruments of His Passion for our consolation, our boast and our healing, for “by his bruises we were healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
Come, O noble Joseph and Nicodemus, gather your boldness to bury the Body of God. Bring your shroud, and your precious myrrh to bury this Stranger in a new Tomb (Homily of St. Epiphanios on Great Saturday), hewn from the rock, Who was hewn from the Virginal Mountain without the hand of man (Daniel 2:45). Cover the face that is the glorious radiance of the Father, soak up the Blood which re-creates all things. Guard with a Stone the Supernatural Stone, from Which our Fathers drank. (I Corinthians 10:4)
And after He dwelt bodily in the grave, and His Soul freed the prisoners in Hades, while dwelling in Paradise with the Thief, and never departing the Throne of the Father (Hymn of Proskomede), He Who is uncircumscribable, arose on the third day. He passes unhindered through the stone, Who traversed the portal of the Virgin (from the Praises of Sunday Matins from Plagal of the First Tone) leaving her unharmed. He sends His Archangels to roll away the stone from His life-giving Tomb, at whose appearance, the guard of soldiers became as dead men. He brings joy to His Mother and her fellow Myrrhbearers, making them the Apostles to the Apostles, to tell of the Resurrection.
Run, O beloved Disciple, and outrun Cephas, and together behold the Tomb, the sudarium that was upon His head, and the grave-clothes that covered the Immaculate Body of the Master. Behold! He is not here! And with panting, and fear and exhilaration, behold the signs of your risen Lord! The Tomb is empty, the Angel sits upon the stone, and the shroud is left behind, bearing the marks of His Passion. “Hear, O heaven, and hearken, O earth: for the Lord has spoken!” (Isaiah 1:2)
Behold the Wisdom of God has built His house, He has been slain (and is alive again), and has poured His Blood, and prepared His table, and calls His servants with a loud proclamation to a feast! “Come, eat of my bread, and drink wine which I have mingled for you.” (Proverbs 9:1-5) He does not leave us orphans (John 14:18), but leaves us another Comforter (John 14:16) to ever abide with us. He leaves us His Divine Mysteries, and leaves us His Image, and the tokens of His Passion, in remembrance of Him. (Luke 22:19)
O Lord, “You did not cease doing everything until You led us to heaven and granted us Your kingdom to come.” (Anaphora of St. John Chrysostom) You use every part of creation, visible and invisible, to lead us to Yourself. After Your face was washed and Your Precious Icon was imprinted upon the Cloth, You sent it for healing and protection through Your Apostle, Thaddeus, to the ailing King Apgar. By grasping in faith and love, he received release from his bodily infirmity. Though beforehand he sought that You might visit his kingdom in life, through his repentance and baptism, You were truly brought to Him together with Your Icon, and he was brought to Your Kingdom.
The king and the people who beheld Your image cried out to Him, as in the words of the Greatly-suffering Job, to Him Who once appeared "through the whirlwind and clouds" (Job 38:1): "I have heard the report of thee by the ear before; but now mine eye has seen thee. Wherefore I have counted myself vile, and have fainted: and I esteem myself dust and ashes." (Job 42:5-6) Your presence remained hidden for many years, while persecutions raged among Judeans, pagan rulers, and apostates, but was later brought to light again to save the city of Edessa.
Suddenly, the divine imprint of Your face, (both, not fashioned by the hand of man) brought joy and consolation and inspiration to Christian peoples. They began to properly depict Your immaculate Icon, as another remembrance of You that strikes fear in the hearts of sinners, and bears hope for those repentant, and brings joy to Your faithful servants. Your face was processed and supplicated by the rich among the people (Psalm 45:12), and soon proceeded to the Queen of Cities, which was greatly enriched by Your presence. “Myrrh, and stacte, and cassia are exhaled from your garments, and out of the ivory palaces” (Psalm 45:8) The king boasted in the King of Kings, and humbly bowed to venerate the Immaculate Icon not made by the hands of man, as He once told His friends: “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Luke 10-23-24)
Though the City fell into the hands of her enemies, the glory of Your face proceeds forth unto Athens and Paris, unto Glastonbury and Torino and all the lands of the West. The humble and burdened among them take courage in You, as you spoke through Your Prophet: “Fear not; for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and will gather thee from the west. I will say to the north, Bring; and to the south, Keep not back; bring my sons from the land afar off, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; even all who are called by my name: for I have prepared him for my glory (Isaiah 43:5-6)
The astonishing photographic negative of the Shroud of Turin, depicting a moving icon of Christ's Passion (source)
Some deny You and are unable to gaze upon Your face, You before Whom tremble things above and below. But You, O Lord Almighty, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, Judge of the living and the dead, You do not cease doing all things and using every tool of creation to reach me, the sinner. You broadly cast out the seed of Your Word unto the ends of the universe, and Your wonders are read, and spoken of, and beheld in all places and in every hour. Technologies and science, though offspring of this fallen world, proclaim and cry out Your miracles, Your life, Your painful endurance of suffering unimaginable, and Your wounds that pour out not just Blood and Water, but forgiveness for mankind. And most of all, Your Resurrection is marveled at, and is praised and glorified unto the ages of ages. Your Icon remains, and becomes more astonishing day by day, for those who would wish to see. You speak to our hearts in a land of death and destruction, and You continue to stand, calling us day by day to return to the Father.
And now I turn to Your immaculate Icon, O Christ God, and the Cloth that depicts for us Your incarnation and Your Passion and Resurrection:
Rejoice, O Cloth, humble working of the hand of man, which was glorified so greatly to touch the Master Himself, He Who bowed the Heavens to embrace the earth in His love for man, and Who, with His hand, wove together all creation, both visible and invisible!
Rejoice, O Cloth, which dried the water and perspiration from Him Whose glance dries up the abyss! You encircled to embrace the Body of God that was dejected and cast off from men!
Rejoice, O Cloth, that gathered the Precious Blood and Water that flowed from the side of the Master, which He continues to pour forth for His servants daily! This is the Lamb of God "broken and distributed, but not divided; always eaten, yet never consumed, but sanctifying those who partake." (Divine Liturgy)
Rejoice, O Cloth, imprinted with the Icon of the Master without the hand of man! You became a teacher and archetype for us that our Lord should be depicted, and showing us how we are to properly paint the Image of God, Who became flesh for our salvation.
Rejoice, O Cloth, for you embraced Him Who is carried by the Cherubim and Seraphim, who cover their faces in fear before His awesome countenance!
Rejoice, O Cloth, which served as another sign of His Resurrection on the third day, both perplexing and bringing joy to the Apostles Peter and John, and later to all the servants of the Master!
Rejoice, O Cloth, which traveled as another Apostle throughout the world, proclaiming the Master's coming in the flesh, His many wonders, and His bodily Passion and Resurrection!
Rejoice, O Cloth, which brought healing to Apgar, and was at the same time, both glorious and humble like your Lord! Through you were enemies driven off and awesome and terrible wonders wrought, while you humbly endured to be hidden for many years.
Rejoice, O Cloth, which brought unending joy to the Queen of Cities! She, and all her faithful continue to depict your icon and chant in praise of the Lord, entreating for forgiveness of offenses.
Rejoice, O Cloth, which was humbly taken as a prisoner like the Redeemer, and brought throughout many lands of the West! You endured marks like the Master, being burnt and cut and put to doubt and scrutiny by men! But these have not diminished the glory of the One you depict. Not at all! But you continue to cry out and proclaim His wonders, bringing more to Him every day.
Rejoice, O Cloth, depicted in Churches throughout the world, in icons of wood and stone and cloth, in mosaics and frescoes, depicting the Christ Who put on flesh out of love for man, and Who endured His Passion, while arising on the third day!
Rejoice, O Cloth, becoming an Icon of what I must become! For the Lord calls me to become washed and pure likely fine linen, and to embrace Him, and to have Him alone marked upon me indelibly, to ever carry within me His Spotless Blood, and to keep His Icon unfaded unto the ages! For "all who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:27)
O Lord God Almighty, "Who robes Yourself with light as with a garment; spreading out the heaven as a curtain" (Psalm 104), receive this humble prayer offered to You in thanksgiving and repentance and supplication. You Who are the Light unapproachable, come and clothe us with Yourself, for You are the protection of the naked, and light for those in darkness (Kontakion of Theophany). Grant speedy consolation to Your servants, O Jesus. Come, draw near to us, draw near, You Who are everywhere (Kontakion of Pentecost), that You might fill all things with Yourself (Ephesians 4:10). Grant us mourning for our sins and weaknesses, repentance and confession, and amendment of our lives, that through Your Passion, You might bring to us victory over our Passions. Grant peace to Your Church, to civil authorities, to all Your people. Unite to Your Church those who have fallen from her and bring to her Your sheep not yet of this fold. Protect the poor, the sick, and those suffering in any way, along with those who travel and those tempted. And let the light of Your countenance ever be signed upon us, O Lord, that we might be made worthy to ever behold Your glorious face in Your Kingdom, "for You, O Christ our God, are the illumination of our souls and bodies, and to You we offer up glory, together with Your Father, Who is without beginning, and Your all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen." (Prayer from the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom)
A famous Russian Icon (this version from the 14th Century from the State Museum of Arkhangelsk): "Do not weep for me, O Mother", which often depicts the Holy Mandylion together with Christ, "Extreme Humility" (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, August 21, 2020

St. Porphyrios: "In the church, we become one..."

Weeping Albanian Icon of the Theotokos (source)

"In the church, we become one with every unhappy, suffering, and sinful person."

— St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

"O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance..."

Hagia Sophia, where the historic and sacred mosaic icons of Christ, the Theotokos and the Saints remain covered, not just at the hour of muslim prayer, but 24 hrs. a day (source)
O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance;(A)
    they have defiled(B) your holy temple,
    they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.(C)
They have left the dead bodies of your servants
    as food for the birds of the sky,(D)
    the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.(E)
They have poured out blood like water
    all around Jerusalem,
    and there is no one to bury(F) the dead.(G)
We are objects of contempt to our neighbors,
    of scorn(H) and derision to those around us.(I)
How long,(J) Lord? Will you be angry(K) forever?
    How long will your jealousy burn like fire? ...
Do not hold against us the sins of past generations;(Q)
    may your mercy come quickly to meet us,
    for we are in desperate need.(R)
Help us,(S) God our Savior,
    for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
    for your name’s sake.(T)
10 Why should the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”)...
13 Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,(Z)
    will praise you forever;(AA)
from generation to generation
    we will proclaim your praise.
-from Psalm 79
The famous frescoes of the Chora Monastery in Constantinople, which was just announced will be converted into a mosque as well (source)
Icon depicting the Theotokos "Dakryrrousa" ("Weeping") and Christ, together with St. Constantine the Great, and the final Byzantine emperor, Constantine Palaiologos, in front of the mourning city of Constantinople (source)
O God, have mercy on our many sins and grant us all repentance!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

"The knees of Mary have withered from praying for all of you."

The Most-Holy Theotokos praying for the world (source)
"Once, when St. Iakovos [of Evia] was casting out demons from a wretched demoniac, his ears heard: 'Hey Iakovos, you should know! The knees of Mary have withered from praying for all of you.' What are we doing? Are we worthy of these prayers or do we fall and get carried away from our passions and fall into sin? And if we fall, do we go afterwards to kneel under the stole of a spiritual father, that our sins might be washed away? Because, we will have to give an account for our deeds, our desires, our while there is still time, let us repent! Let us change our way of thinking and our way of life, to enter into the space of our Church. She is the ark of our salvation, that we might partake of the Spotless Mysteries, in Confession and Divine Communion, and when we commune, we become even more closely related to our Panagia, because our Panagia hosted within her womb the Son of God and her Son, and when we commune, we host, we give a dwelling-place within us, within our body, to God, like our Panagia."
-Quote from a sermon of Elder Gabriel of St. David's Monastery in Evia on the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos
Most-Holy Theotokos save us!

A Prayer of Confession, by Blessed Father Nicholas Pekatoros

An Orthodox Priest and Penitent during Holy Confession (source)
A Prayer of Confession,
by the Blessed Father Nicholas Pekatoros, for use by his spiritual children:
“I confess to the Lord my God and before you, Holy Father, all my innumerable sins, which I have committed to the present day and hour, in deed, word and thought. Daily and hourly I commit the sin of ingratitude toward the Lord for his great and innumerable blessings and gracious providence toward me, a sinner. These are my sins: empty, foolish words; criticizing and verbally abusing others; defiance; pride; lack of mercy; envy; vengeful anger; slander against others; inattention; neglect where my salvation is concerned; carelessness; a carefree attitude; rudeness; irritability; despondency; returning evil for evil; hardness of heart; disobedience; complaining; self-righteousness; contradictoriness; willfulness; conduct that is blameworthy or disgraceful; speaking evil; lying; excessive laughter; yielding to temptation; love of self; ambition; gluttony; drunkenness; vanity; laziness; thinking impure thoughts; heaping up worldly goods; lusting after others; missing Divine Liturgy and other church services because of laziness and carelessness; wandering of mind during prayer in church and at home; sins of deed; sins of word; sins of thought; and sins of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and my other senses, both physical and spiritual. I repent of all my sins and I ask forgiveness. (State here other sins that may be on one’s soul.) I also repent and ask forgiveness for sins I did not confess because of their multitude or because of my forgetfulness. Forgive and release me, Holy Father, and give me your blessing to partake of Christ’s Holy and Life-Giving Mysteries, to the renunciation of sin and the receiving of Life Eternal. Amen.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

"My dear, sweet Mother!"


The Most-Holy Theotokos and Christ sweetly kissing (source)
"All the saints wrote many praises to our Panagia. But I, the poor one, have found no words more elegant or sweet to describe her, than to cry out to her at every moment: "My dear Mother! My dear, sweet Mother! When my soul departs may it come into your hands, and through them may it be given to its Creator, your Only-begotten Son."
-Saint Joseph the Hesychast
Όσιος Ιωσήφ ο Ησυχαστής
St. Joseph the Hesychast (source)
Most-Holy Theotokos, save us!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Homily II on the Dormition of the Theotokos by Metropolitan Avgoustinos

The Dormition of the Theotokos (source)
Homily II on the Dormition of the Theotokos by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes (+2010): "The Glorious Dormition"

"Your glorious Dormition caused the Heavens to rejoice, along with the ranks of the Angels, while the whole earth is glad..." (Sticheron from the Praises of the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos

Panagia was a poor girl from Nazareth, from unassuming parents. She did not have anything that would bespeak of glory. Her nativity passed by unnoticed [by the world]. Humble was her entrance into the world, and humble was her life.

But while her entrance was humble, her exit was glorious, and righteous. For she passed throughout her whole life in purity, humility, and utter obedience to the will of God. Which other woman has a calling that could be reckoned with hers? Every [woman] gives birth to mortals, but she was made worthy to become the Mother of the Son of God. As St. Kosmas Aitolos preached: "There were thousands of thousands of women in the world, but none could be found to fill the side of Adam, except our Lady the Theotokos."

When Panagia gave up her spirit to her Son and God, the earth and Heaven were astonished. The burial of her sacred body had a unique grandeur. The Apostles were brought from the ends of the earth to Gethsemane upon the clouds. Myrrh-bearing women and the faithful people followed. An impious Judean tried to defile the sacred body, but was repulsed...

The earth, with her most chosen children gathered to bury the King's Mother. But what were the honors of the earth before the honors of Heaven? As she ascended to the Kingdom on high, she was given an exceptional reception.

The leaders of the Angels knelt to venerate. The Son received the Mother. And she stood and continues to remain at His right hand, interceding on behalf of sinners.

Humble was her entrance, glorious, all-glorious, was her exit. Are these a phantasy, are these a myth? No, a thousand times, no. Our holy Church confirms this, who ordained that today the Dormition of the Most-Holy Theotokos be celebrated. Today, most-beautiful hymns are chanted, with which the greatness of Panagia is praised, and especially, the event of her repose, of her Dormition.
Detail from the icon of the Dormition of the Theotokos (source)
Many, my beloved, are the lessons of this feast. We will limit ourselves to one thing only, one lesson, which is contained in the word which the Church uses to characterize the event of the repose of the Virgin. Her repose is not called "death", but "dormition". Why? Please pay attention.

In the language of the Holy Scriptures, death does not mean the disappearance of the human existence. No. At death there is a separation. The soul is separated from the body. The soul leaves towards the things above, towards the heavenly world of the spirits. This path is not fantastical, but is a reality, which is confirmed by the word of God. Then, what does the soul meet, how many tollhouses does it pass through, what censures does it undergo, we do not know in detail. The words of holy people, who saw the souls of the reposed pass towards the verdant meadows of Paradise, or towards the dark places of hell, shine some light on this, but this light is dim, and unable to satisfy people's curiosity. To man, through the Scriptures, it has been revealed that the soul that leaves the body does not die (see Luke 12:20, 16:23-26, 23:42-43). This is a fact and the Christian cannot deny this.

But while the soul of man, which has finished this station of his life, ascends as a spirit to the other world, the body, as physical creation is given away to corruption, to temporary corruption. For from this corrupted body, during the universal Resurrection [at the Last Judgment], there will come a renewed and incorrupt body, which will be united with the soul and they will live together unto the ages of ages.

Yes! The body will be raised. In anticipation of the Resurrection, death according to the Scriptures is called "dormition". The Prophet David "slept" (Acts 13:36). The Protomartyr Stephen "slept" (Acts 7:60). The Apostle Paul, when he speaks of those who have left for the other life, does not say that they "died", but he calls them "those who are sleep". "I do not want you to be ignorant, my brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you might not grieve as the others do who have no hope." (I Thessalonians 4:13). Our Lord Jesus Himself called death "sleep". When He entered the house of Jairus and saw them weeping for the dead girl, He told them: "Do not weep. She has not died, but is only sleeping." (Luke 8:52, Mark 5:39) And regarding Lazarus He said that he had "fallen asleep" (John 11:11-15). And He proceeded to resurrect him, with such ease as if he were waking him from sleep.

Dormition! This word of the Scriptures should be sufficient to teach, console and strengthen Christians, at least those who hasten to churches to celebrate and feast at the "glorious", "all-sacred", and "dormition transcending death", of the Most-Holy Theotokos. Do you hear this, O you who celebrate? Panagia has not died, but has fallen asleep! Her body was buried, placed within the grave, but as the Church chants: "the grave and death could not hold her, for as the Mother of Life, she has proceeded to Life, Who dwelt within the womb of the Ever-Virgin." (Kontakion of the Feast of the Dormition) Panagia, shining forth with all the light of the virtues, "as arrayed in gold" (Psalm 44:10) has proceeded towards the Heavens. "Who", cry out the Angels, "is this that appears like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, majestic as the stars in procession?" (Song of Songs 6:10)
The Dormition of the Theotokos (source)
Panagia, from the height of her glory, is heard to say to all Christians who are tempted here: "Faithful children of the heavenly Father, have strength. What do you fear? Death? But death is the gateway to the new life. Here on high where I am there is a new life, which no one on earth could even begin to imagine. This life is preordained for those who will live with faith and virtue. Here there is no partiality. My Son is the just Judge. When I was below on the earth, I heard voices that blessed me, for I was made worthy to become His Mother, and He said that, in the cycle of blessedness, it would not be me alone who gives Him birth, but for all those who hear Him and keep His word. For Christ is born spiritually in every soul who believes in Him and worships Him as the only Savior. 'Yea of a truth, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.' (Luke 11:28) Therefore, I invite you all to the glory of Heaven."

As the Church chants, truly glorious was the Dormition of the Most-Holy Theotokos. Glorious was also the dormition of all the Righteous, who faithfully completed their missions. Each of them, as they left from this world, could say like the Psalm: "In peace I will lie down and sleep, and I awoke, for You, O Lord, have made me to dwell in hope." (Psalm 4:9) The antithesis occurs with those who did not love God and their neighbor, and did not fulfill their holy duties, and did not complete their mission, but were conquered by evils and passions, and trampled upon divine gifts, walling themselves off and making themselves unworthy of their holy calling, betraying the faith. Their dormition was not radiant, but dark, not glorious, but inglorious. Not radiant Angels, but dark demons were their fellow travelers during the exodus of their souls to the other world. For mourning and cutting are heard during the exodus of the unrepentant sinner. Who would not weep?

O Christians! Panagia had a glorious dormition. But we also must have a glorious dormition. Glorious through faith and virtue. May we receive even one laurel leaf from that glory! May the Lord, through the intercessions of the Most-Holy Theotokos, who proceeds to the Heavens, grant us an end like this. May the prayer of the Church be fulfilled for each of us: "For a Christian ending to our life: painless, blameless, peaceful, and a good defense before the dread Judgment Seat of Christ, let us pray."
(+) Bishop Avgoustinos 
The Dormition of the Theotokos (source)
Most-Holy Theotokos, save us!