August 15, 2011
Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos
Your depth of compassion grant unto me
as one beseeching you; You have carried the
Compassionate, the Savior of those praising you.
(From the Small Paraklesis to the Theotokos)
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this blessed Feast of the Dormition, we honor the beautiful life and witness of our Most Holy Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. In the services and hymns of this festal period we offer to all humanity a vibrant and joyous testimony of how she revealed the power of the grace of God and how she continues to show compassion upon all who seek solace, healing, and peace through her intercessions.
The compassion of the Theotokos was shown in her commitment to the will of God. Her openness to His divine call, her willingness in service to Him, and her faith in His wisdom revealed her deep love of God. This love and commitment was nurtured by her communion with Him, a life of prayer and holiness seeking all that is true and pure.
Her compassion was also shown in her faith in Jesus Christ. Her uniqueness within humanity in bearing and nurturing the Son of God was the beginning of this. Her faith in Christ as her Savior and Lord and her leadership in sharing the Gospel of salvation revealed the magnitude of compassion. She saw, heard, and knew what was being accomplished for our salvation, and she believed.
The compassion of the Most Holy Lady and Ever-Virgin Mary continues to be shown in her love for all of us. The Feast of the Dormition affirms the love of God for the Theotokos as revealed in the events of her repose. This feast also commemorates her ongoing ministry of compassion for all who are suffering, who are afflicted in body or soul, or who need divine protection. On our behalf and for our deliverance and salvation, she offers continuous intercessions to God. She also stands before us and before all of the blessed saints as a witness of the power of divine love.
May we cherish this witness of the Theotokos and seek the power of God’s grace in our lives. May our compassion be known through our commitment to God’s will, our faith in Christ, and our love and service to others. As we live in communion with God, may we know His grace through the love of Her who is “the depth of compassion,” “a wall most unshakable,” and the “shelter of all humankind.”
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America