Title: The Dormition
Subject: Dormition of the Theotokos
Age Group: 8+ years
Liturgical Time: August 15
Welcome the class. Begin with singing or reciting the below Apolytikion and Kontakion for the feast day.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
In giving birth, thou didst preserve thy virginity; in thy dormition, thou didst not forsake the world, O Theotokos. Thou wast translated unto life, since thou art the Mother of Life; and by thine intercessions dost thou redeem our souls from death.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Neither the grave nor death could contain the Theotokos, the unshakable hope, ever vigilant in intercession and protection. As Mother of life, He who dwelt in the ever-virginal womb transposed her to life.
Dormition of the Theotokos by Fr. George Dragas
The narrative [of the Dormition of the Theotokos] tells us the story, which is beautifully depicted on the holy icon of the Dormition. It tells us that the All-Holy Theotokos was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and foretold about her approaching death; that thereupon the Theotokos returned to her home and prepared for this event, praying at the same time that the Apostles should be notified accordingly. John is said to be the first to arrive in a miraculous way, and then all the rest followed. Finally, the Lord Himself appears in His dazzling divine glory, escorted by a myriad of angels, and takes her all-holy soul, which is wrapped up like a newborn babe in swaddling clothes, into His arms in order to transport it to Heaven.
Before she departs, the All-Holy Theotokos greets the Holy Apostles and the people, promising that "whichever soul is to call her name will not be put to shame, but will find mercy and consolation, understanding and boldness in this world and the next."
Her funeral follows. The holy body of the Theotokos is then taken to a tomb in Gesthemane where it is buried. Yet according to the narrative, on the third day after the funeral, the holy body of the Theotokos was translated to Heaven. The first hymn of the Great Vespers of the Feast sums it up.
"O marvelous wonder. The source of life is laid in the tomb, and the tomb itself becomes a ladder to Heaven. Be glad, O Gethsemane, thou sacred abode of the Mother of God. Come, o ye faithful, and with Gabriel to lead us, let us all cry out: Hail, thou who art full of grace, the Lord is with Thee, granting the world through thee great mercy."
Orthodox Christians honor the All-Holy Theotokos as the supreme living icon of the Church, the Mother of all Christians because, as the holy fathers explain in their writings, she is the "New Eve," the new Mother of Humanity who, through her obedience, reversed the curse, which followed Eve's disobedience, and brought to the world the "New Adam," our Savior Jesus Christ, Who restored mankind's communion with God the Creator.
From the Goarch Website:
Concerning the Dormition of the Theotokos, this is what the Church has received from ancient times from the tradition of the Fathers. When the time drew nigh that our Savior was well-pleased to take His Mother to Himself, He declared unto her through an Angel that three days hence, He would translate her from this temporal life to eternity and bliss. On hearing this, she went up with haste to the Mount of Olives, where she prayed continuously. Giving thanks to God, she returned to her house and prepared whatever was necessary for her burial. While these things were taking place, clouds caught up the Apostles from the ends of the earth, where each one happened to be preaching, and brought them at once to the house of the Mother of God, who informed them of the cause of their sudden gathering. As a mother, she consoled them in their affliction as was meet, and then raised her hands to Heaven and prayed for the peace of the world. She blessed the Apostles, and, reclining upon her bed with seemliness, gave up her all-holy spirit into the hands of her Son and God.
With reverence and many lights, and chanting burial hymns, the Apostles took up that God-receiving body and brought it to the sepulchre, while the Angels from Heaven chanted with them, and sent forth her who is higher than the Cherubim. But one Jew, moved by malice, audaciously stretched forth his hand upon the bed and immediately received from divine judgment the wages of his audacity. Those daring hands were severed by an invisible blow. But when he repented and asked forgiveness, his hands were restored. When they had reached the place called Gethsemane, they buried there with honor the all-immaculate body of the Theotokos, which was the source of Life. But on the third day after the burial, when they were eating together, and raised up the artos (bread) in Jesus' Name, as was their custom, the Theotokos appeared in the air, saying "Rejoice" to them. From this they learned concerning the bodily translation of the Theotokos into the Heavens.
Decorate candles and explain how when we ask the Panagia for help even as the candle continues to burn brightly the Panagia continues to pray for us.
Decorate an empty box to represent Panagia's empty tomb. This can also be connected to Christ's resurrection and His empty tomb).
Decorate flower pots and plant seeds; suggest that when they flower, they can be brought to Church and placed before the Panagia's Icon (with priest permission).