Saturday, August 13, 2011

Preparing For Mary's Feast

Byzantine Christians have been observing a two week fast in preparation for the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (the Assumption in the West) on Monday. During this period, they pray a special office of supplication to the Mother of God, the Paraklesis. Here are a few brief selections from this venerable prayer of the Eastern tradition:

*O Virgin, I beseech you who have given birth to God the Savior, deliver me from my afflictions. It is to you that I now come for shelter, to you that I lift my heart and my thoughts.

*O you who alone are the Mother of God, you who are good and the Mother of Goodness, take away the disease of my body and soul: make me worthy of your good care, and of the coming of God.

*O Maiden, you have been given to us as a wall behind which we may seek refuge, as a perfect means of salvation for our souls, as a joy in our tribulations, for in your brilliance we always find delight. O Lady, save us at all times from every danger and evil desire.

*O you who gave birth to the Doer of Good, to the Cause of all Delights, let the wealth of his generosity abound within all souls, for since you have borne the almighty Christ, you have power to act according to your will, O you who are blessed of God!

Also, as the feast of the Dormition/Assumption approaches, I desire to commend in a particular way to the Mother of God all Christians who are facing persecution or the threat of persecution throughout the world. My heart and mind turn especially to the Church in China and to the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East. Mary’s tender love is reflected in this beautiful prayer from the Coptic Egyptian tradition:

O Theotokos, the second heaven
You are the honoured Mother of the Light.

From sunrise to sunset
the faithful offer you praises

You are the bright and unchanging flower
and the mother who remained a virgin
for the Father chose you
and the Holy Spirit overshadowed you
and the Son deigned to take flesh from you.

Wherefore, ask the Lord
to give salvation to the world
which He created
and to deliver it from all tribulations

Let us praise the Lord
and sing to Him a new song
now and forever and from all ages to all ages