August 3, 2013

August: the Month of the Panagia - the Summer Pascha

It's been said and written thousands of times that the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is called the "Pascha of the Summer" or "Summer Pascha". But why? Are there in fact similarities between this feast and what we celebrated a few months ago?

Pascha means (as we know) "to pass over". That is, it is a feast with an opportunity to renew our spiritual powers, in order to escape from the miserable and vile and resort to the joyful and optimistic, without this bringing social loafing, abandonment, fatalism and frustration. We are not the silly of society, but the hope-bearers of the Church.

What are the similarities between the two passages?

Both have similar fasting as a means of abstinence, and never as torture and an excuse to make Christians hungry. The measure we have with food is an occasion to put a measure, until annihilation, on our failures, our weaknesses, among which could be food as either quantity or quality.

Further, like Great Lent, there is a rich hymnography. The Supplication Canons, the Great and the Small, are not simply wonderful melodies with rich meaning, but a heartfelt and fully-fortified prayer of Christians, particularly for those who have been beaten mercilessly and painfully by the waves of life.

The culmination of the period which commences on August 1st is August 15th. It is at that time when we will sing the Lamentations, like another Good Friday. It is the funeral lamentation to the Theotokos, by Her children, because it seems as if we are losing Her.

The Lord will prove everyone wrong, and at the same time bring great joy. He will receive Her soul and Her body will be assumed into heaven - according to Church teaching and writings. She is alive and intercedes for all of us.

In addition, the feast has an apodosis (leave-taking) - though it ends only after nine days. It is a day which is equal to the primary feast day, just as it occurs for the Resurrection of the Lord after 39 days.

There is also a contrast between the two feasts, the Pascha of the Spring and the Pascha of the Summer. In the first case there is a Marian feast which puts a break on the solemn period, the Annunciation to the Theotokos, while in the Pascha of the coming days there is the Despotic feast of the Transfiguration of the Savior, as a break for commemoration to show that the ultimate goal and purpose of life is the transfiguration of all, from the good to the better, and finally to the excellent, which is His Kingdom.

She is not our savior, for only Jesus saves. Indeed, She is the one who intercedes with prayers for our salvation. In the rich hymns of these days She has an important seat, which is proved by Her miracles which are another proof that She lives. Others will be found to worship Mary, misrepresenting Her to the point of Her being rejected.

She is not the end to our lives, but She practically helps us pass over to our desired salvation. She influences us with Her prayers to our Lord, in order for us to be forgiven and redeemed.

With Her Dormition She reminds us that when it appears an end awaits us, essentially we are experiencing a beginning, joyful and eternal.

A good August 15th to all!

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos