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From the August AD 2000
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin
Selections from the Scripture, the Fathers,
Doctors, Popes, and other great spiritual writers appropriate to the Church in our time.

On the Assumption or "Dormition" of the
Blessed Virgin Mother of God
From The Book of the Passing of the Most Holy Virgin, the Mother of God
attributed to
St. Melito of Sardis, Bishop (circa 180 A.D.)

Melito, servant of God, bishop of the church of Sardis, unto the brethren which are established in peace in Laodicea, reverend in the Lord, greeting.

I remember that I have oft-times written concerning a certain Leucius, who, after that with us he had been a companion of the apostles, with alienated sense and rash mind departed from the way of righteousness and put into his books many things concerning the acts of the apostles and spake many and diverse things of their mighty deeds, but concerning their teaching lied much, affirming that they taught otherwise, and establishing his own wicked position as if by their words. Nor did he account this sufficient, but also corrupted with so evil a pen the departure of the blessed Mary ever virgin, the mother of God, that it is unlawful not only to read but even to hear it in the church of God. We therefore at your petition have written simply those things which we heard from the apostle John, and have sent them unto your brotherhood, believing no alien doctrines which sprout from heretics]

Therefore, when the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was hanging on the tree fastened by the nails of the cross for the life of the whole world, He saw about the cross His mother standing, and John the evangelist, whom He peculiarly loved above the rest of the apostles, because he alone of them was a virgin in the body. He gave him, therefore, the charge of holy Mary, saying to him: Behold thy mother! and saying, to her: Behold thy son! From that hour the! holy mother of God remained specially in the care of John, as long as she had her habitation in this life. And when the apostles had divided the world by lot for preaching, she settled in the house of his parents near Mount Olivet.

In the second year, therefore, after Christ had vanquished death, and ascended up into heaven, on a certain day, Mary, burning with a longing for Christ, began to weep alone, within the shelter of her abode. And, behold, an angel, shining in a dress of great light, stood before her and gave utterance to the words of salutation saying: Hail! thou blessed by the Lord, receive the salutation of Him who commanded safety to Jacob by His prophets. Behold, said He a palm branch--I have brought it to thee from the paradise of the Lord--which thou wilt cause to be carried before thy bier, when on the third day thou shalt be taken up from the body. For, lo, thy Son awaits thee with thrones and angels, and all the powers of heaven. Then Mary said to the angel: I beg that all the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ he assembled to me. To whom the angel said: Behold, to-day, by the power of my Lord Jesus Christ, all the apostles will come to thee. And Mary says to him: I ask that thou send upon me thy blessing, that no power of the lower world may withstand me in that hour in which my soul shall go out of my body, and that I may not see the prince of darkness. And the angel said: No power indeed of the lower world will hurt thee; and thy Lord God, whose servant and messenger I am, hath given thee eternal blessing; but do not think that the privilege of not seeing the prince of darkness is to be given thee by me, but by Him whom thou hast carried in thy womb; for to Him belongeth power over all for ever and ever. Thus saying, the angel departed with great splendor. And that palm shone with exceeding great light. Then Mary, undressing herself, put on better garments. And, taking the palm which she had received from the hands of the angel, she went out to the mount of Olivet, and began to pray, and say: I had not been worthy, O Lord, to bear Thee, unless Thou hadst had compassion on me; but nevertheless I have kept the treasure which Thou entrustedst to me. Therefore I ask of Thee, O King of glory, that the power of Gehenna hurt me not. For if the heavens and the angels daily tremble before Thee, how much more man who is made from the ground, who possesses no good thing, except as much as he has received from Thy benignant bounty! Thou art, O Lord, God always blessed for ever. And thus saying, she went back to her dwelling.

And, behold, suddenly, while St. John was preaching in Ephesus, on the Lord's day, at the third hour of the day, there was a great earthquake, and a cloud raised him and took him up from the eyes of all, and brought him before the door of the house where Mary was. And knocking at the door, he immediately went in. And when Mary saw him, she exulted in joy, and said: I beg of thee, my son John, be mindful of the words of my Lord Jesus Christ, in which He entrusted me to thee. For, behold, on the third day, when I am to depart from the body, I have heard the plans of the Jews, saying, Let us wait for the day when she who bore that seducer shall die, and let us burn her booty with fire. She therefore called St. John, anti led him into the secret chamber of the house, and showed him the robe of her burial, and that palm of light which she had received from the angel, instructing him that he should cause it to be carried before her couch when she was going to her tomb.

And St. John said to her: How shall I alone perform thy funeral rites, unless my brethren and fellow-apostles of my Lord Jesus Christ come to pay honour to thy body?  And lo, suddenly by the commandment of God all the apostles were lifted up on a cloud and caught away from the places where they were preaching and set down before the door of the house wherein Mary dwelt.... And on the third day, about the third hour of the day ... suddenly the Lord Jesus Christ came with a great multitude of angels, and a great light came down upon the place, and the angels were singing hymns and praising the Lord. Then the Savior spoke, saying: "Come thou, most precious pearl, enter into the treasury of eternal life...."

    And as the Lord [concluded His discourse], Mary arose from the pavement and laid herself upon her bed, and giving thanks to God she gave up the ghost. But the apostles saw her soul, that it was of such whiteness that no tongue of mortal men can worthily express it, for it excelled all whiteness of snow and of all metal and silver that glitters with great brightness of light.

    Then the Savior spoke, saying: Arise Peter, and take the body of Mary and bear it unto the right-hand side of the city toward the east, and thou wilt find there a new sepulchre where ye shall place it, and wait till I come unto you. And when the Lord had so said, He delivered the soul of the holy Mary to Michael, who was set over paradise and is the prince of the people of the Jews: and Gabriel went with them. And immediately the Savior was received up into heaven with the angels....

    Then therefore the apostles laid the holy body upon a bier and said to one another: "Who shall bear the palm before her bier? Then John said to Peter: "Thou who art before us in the apostleship ought to bear this palm before her bed." And Peter answered him: "Thou only of us art a virgin chosen of the Lord, and hast found such favor that thou didst lie on His breast: and when He hung for our salvation on the tree of the cross, committed her unto thee with His own mouth. Thou therefore ought to carry this palm; and let us take up the body to bear it unto the place of the sepulchre." Therefore Peter lifted up the head of the body and began to sing, saying: "Israel is come out of Egypt, alleluia." And with him the other apostles bore the body of the blessed Mary, and John carried the palm of light before the bier. And the rest of the apostles sang with exceedingly sweet voices....

    The apostles carrying Mary came into the place of the valley of Josaphat, where the Lord had showed them, and laid her in a new tomb and shut the sepulchre. But they sat down at the door of the tomb as the Lord had charged them: and lo, suddenly the Lord Jesus Christ came with a great multitude of angels, and light flashing with great brightness, and said to the apostles: "Peace be with you." And they answered and said: "Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee."

    Then the Savior spoke unto them, saying: "Before I ascended up unto My Father, I promised you, saying that ye who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His majesty, ye also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Now this woman did I choose out of the tribes of Israel by the commandment of My Father, to dwell in her. What then will ye that I do with her?" Then said Peter and the other apostles: "Lord, Thou didst choose this Thine handmaid to become Thine immaculate chamber, and us Thy servants for Thy ministry. All things didst Thou foreknow before the words of Thy Father, with whom to Thee and the Holy Ghost there belongeth equal Godhead and infinite power. If therefore it might come to pass before the power of Thy grace, it appears right to us Thy servants that, as Thou having overcome death now reign in glory, so shouldst Thou raise up the body of Thy mother and take her with Thee rejoicing into heaven.

    The Savior commanded Michael the archangel to bring the soul of the holy Mary. And behold, Michael the archangel rolled the stone from the door of the sepulchre, and the Lord said: "Rise up my love and my kinswoman: thou that didst not suffer corruption by union of the flesh, shall not suffer dissolution of the body in the sepulchre." And immediately Mary rose up from the grave and blessed the Lord, and fell at the Lord's feet, and worshipped Him, saying: "I am not able to render Thee worthy thanks, O Lord, for Thine innumerable benefits which Thou hast granted me, Thine handmaid. Let Thy name be blessed forever, redeemer of the world, thou God of Israel."

    And the Lord kissed her and departed, and delivered her unto the angels to bear her into paradise. And He said to the apostles: "Come near unto Me"; and when they had come near, He kissed them and said: "Peace be unto you; as I have been always with you, so will I be, even unto the end of the world."

    And immediately when the Lord had so said, He was lifted up in a cloud and received into heaven, and the angels with Him, bearing the blessed Mary into the paradise of God.


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