August 19, 2023

A Commentary on the Theology of the Apolytikion of the Dormition of the Theotokos (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and agiou Vlasiou

From the beginning of August, beloved brethren, we began to chant in the Sacred Temples the two Supplicatory Canons, the Small and the Great, to the Most Holy Theotokos, every evening after the sacred service of Vespers.

These sacred services have high spiritual meanings regarding the person and work of the Most Holy Theotokos, our Panagia, as we usually call her. This is the Mother of Christ, because from her the Son and Word of God assumed human nature in order to become human, but she is also our Mother, because she prays for us and responds to our prayers.

But also the troparia of the feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos have high theological meanings, and at the same time they radiate a spiritual warmth, they rest our souls that are wounded by various events and difficult situations. Because, when we are disappointed by people and by everyday situations, God, the Panagia and the Saints give us spiritual rest.

We can verify this in the Apolytikion of today's feast, for which there is no Christian who does not know it and chants it softly when the chanters chant it. We chant:

"In giving birth, you preserved your virginity; in your dormition, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. As the mother of life, you departed to the source of life, delivering our souls from death by your intercessions."

I will make some comments on this amazing theological Apolytikion of today's great Theometoric feast.

First of all, the Most Holy Theotokos is a great theological mystery, because she connects virginity with motherhood. In other words, she became the Mother of Christ, the Son and Word of God took flesh from her, through the Holy Spirit, was conceived for nine months in her womb, born from her, without her losing her virginity, psychic and physical. This is a mystery that cannot be understood by human reason. That is why the term Theotokos is related to the term Ever-Virgin, and these two terms (Virgin and Theotokos) cannot be separated from each other.

Just as the Risen Christ came out of the sealed tomb, and entered into the Upper Room to meet with the Disciples while the doors were shut for fear of the Jews, so also God the Word entered into the womb of the Theotokos and emerged from it without destroying her virginity. Everything that happens to Christ and the Panagia is a mystery. Christ heals the sick and does not create wounds. In this lies the great mystery of the ever-virginity of the Theotokos, which the iconographers depict with three stars, one on her head and the others on her shoulders.

Then, Mary the Theotokos, who was the mother of life, with her glorious dormition was translocated to life. By this is meant Christ, Who is the real life of people. After all, He Himself declared: "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 8:7). He is the way which man walks, He is the truth which enlightens man and sees the truth, and He is life because He grants people life.

The metastasis of the Theotokos to her Son and her God is a metastasis of her entire existence, i.e. a metastasis of body and soul. In the holy Fathers, it is said that Christ resurrected her physically, and now she exists in the heavens, close to Christ, physically. Thus, the metastasis of the Theotokos preceded the resurrection of all the dead at the Second Coming of Christ.

However, despite the metastasis of the Theotokos to the heavens, she did not abandon the world she loves, especially those who invoke her. That is why she speaks to her Son and her God for all of us. Christ is the real Redeemer, He defeated death, sin and the devil, but the Panagia intercedes for us to Christ. And her intercession, her mediation is very powerful.

Of course, this in no way diminishes the work of Christ and the love He has for us, but "the prayer of righteousness is very effective" (James 5:16), much more so "the prayer of a mother is very effective." After all, Christ Himself gave a lot of Grace to His Mother, who conceived Him, gave birth to Him, raised Him and suffered, as a human being, for Him.

In the troparion it is clearly said that Christ who is the true life, through the intercessions of the Theotokos, redeems our souls from death. When the human soul, which by the Grace of God is immortal, due to sin is deprived of God's illuminating and deifying energy, then the person invokes the Theotokos and she speaks to her Son and her God and is resurrected spiritually.

There is biological life, there is also spiritual life. Biological life cannot fully satisfy human existence. That is, the biological functions of the body cannot satisfy man's hunger and thirst for eternal life, for his encounter with God.

That is why we should desire this true life and invoke our Panagia in order to have the fullness of the meaning of life, to move above biological and social issues.

I wish you all many years for today's feast, and may God, through the intercessions of the Most Holy Theotokos, give you physical and psychic health.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Become a Patreon or Paypal Supporter:

Recurring Gifts

Contact Form


Email *

Message *