Treasures From Our Tradition
TREASURES FROM OUR TRADITION
In recent weeks, we have reviewed how the Churches of East and West have enriched one another, and this past Thursday’s solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was born in the Eastern Church. It is a gift from the ancient Church of Jerusalem, a commemoration of the death of Mary, and a feast charged with a deep sense of the Resurrection. Mary, the first disciple, is the first to share fully in Christ’s victory over death. In the tradition of the East, August 15 is the “Dormition of the Theotokos,” or the “Falling Asleep of the God‑bearer.” There is no shadow of death or gloom in the theology, since this is seen as a transformation of Mary’s life into a heavenly and immortal existence. There is a sense in the tradition that she who made earth heavenly and exalted the human race by her faithfulness is glorified today.
A persistent legend among Orthodox Christians tells how all the disciples, except Thomas, who was preaching in India, were present at Mary’s death and burial, and sat by the tomb for three days. On the third day, Thomas saw Mary’s body rising to heaven. She greeted him as “my friend,” and he was escorted by angels to proclaim her assumption to the others, who then realized her tomb was empty. Thus Thomas, the one who expressed doubt at the resurrection of Christ, received a gift from Mary: the chance to proclaim resurrection faith to the disciples. —James Field, Copyright © J. S. Paluch Co.