Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mary's tomb, a place of grace

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The Tomb of Virgin Mary lies at the bottom of the Mount of Olives at Gethsemane. This is considered to be the site where the Virgin Mary was laid to rest upon her death. The church, together with the Crypt cut into the live rock, is known as the Church of the Assumption and was first constructed in the Byzantine period (fifth century). It was rebuilt in 1130 by the Crusaders and since then it has been shared by Greeks, Armenians, Syrians, Copts and Muslims.
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Homily on the Dormition by John Damascene

Your holy and all-virginal body was consigned to a holy tomb, while the angels went before it, accompanied it, and followed it; for what would they not do to serve the Mother of their Lord?
Meanwhile, the apostles and the whole assembly of the Church sang divine hymns and struck the lyre of the Spirit: "We shall be filled with the blessings of your house; your temple is holy; won­drous injustice" (Ps 65:4). And again: "The Most High has sancti­fied his dwelling" (Ps 46:5); "God's mountain, rich mountain, the mountain in which God has been pleased to dwell" (Ps 68:16—17).
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The assembly of apostles carried you, the Lord God's true Ark, as once the priests carried the symbolic ark, on their shoulders. They laid you in the tomb, through which, as if through the Jordan, they will conduct you to the promised land, that is to say, the Jerusalem above, mother of all the faithful, whose architect and builder is God. Your soul did not descend to Hades, neither did your flesh see cor­ruption. Your virginal and uncontaminated body was not abandoned in the earth, but you are transferred into the royal dwelling of heaven, you, the Queen, the sovereign, the Lady, God's Mother, the true God-bearer.

O, how did heaven receive her, who surpasses the wideness of the heavens? How is it possible that the tomb should contain the dwell­ing place of God? And yet it received and held it. For she was not wider than heaven in her bodily dimensions; indeed, how could a body three cubits long, which is always growing thinner, be com­pared with the breadth and length of the sky? Rather it is through grace that she surpassed the limits of every height and depth. The Divinity does not admit of comparison.
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O holy tomb, awesome, venerable, and adorable! Even now the angels continue to venerate you, standing by with great respect and fear, while the devils shrink in horror. With faith, men make haste to render you honor, to adore you, to salute you with their eyes, with their lips, and with the affection of their souls, in order to obtain an abundance of blessings.

A precious ointment, when it is poured out upon the garments or in any place and then taken away, leaves traces of its fragrance even after evaporating. In the same way your body, holy and perfect, im­pregnated with divine perfume and abundant spring of grace, this body which had been laid in the tomb, when it was taken out and transferred to a better and more elevated place, did not leave the tomb bereft of honor but left behind a divine fragrance and grace, making it a wellspring of healing and a source of every blessing for those who approach it with faith.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was born in Jerusalem, and the church of the Virgin Mary is one of my most favourite spots to visit. Amazing!