A sermon by Father Matthew Stagon
“Father,” someone once asked their priest, “I have a difficult time observing the Dormition Fast. What should I do?”
“Well,” the priest responded, “just keep the first week, and then keep the last week, that should be enough.”
The priest’s name must have been Alec, because he was acting a bit smart.
The Dormition Fast is of course just two weeks in totality, but, its an intense and necessary two-weeks as the Church gathers together at the death bed of the Virgin Mary.
This is what happens when one whom we love is near death, we ought to stop in our tracks and gather at their bedside.
Even the disciples themselves, though they had been scattered across the world spreading the Gospel, were miraculously gathered together at the bedside of the Church’s mother to bid her farewell from this life.
We ought to keep this fast as carefully and attentively as possible because we love God’s Mother. She helps us, she loves us, and with the boldness of a mother she intercedes on our behalf to her Son and our God. It is not that Christ does not know our needs, but, because that is what a loving mother does!
Now that you are convinced to keep it, just how might you do so? Here are my tips:
- Go to Church. Run to Church. We will be open for business. There will be devotional services to God’s Mother on the coming Tuesday and Thursday evenings and the Holy Feast of our Lord’s Transguration always falls in the midst of the fast…
- Pray. Yes. If you come to Church you will surely be praying there, but, consider heightening your daily devotions in one way or another. Look in your prayer books for special prayers that you can add to God’s Mother during this season. Maybe even keep it up after the 14 days!
- Fast. We got the whole way to #3 without even mentioning food. Do your best to abstain from meat and dairy as you are able. The Church provides strict directives as they always do, but, work together as a family to come up with a plan. At the least, do more than you have done in the past. If you have questions ask me.
- Read. Pick up a meditation from the library downstairs, purchase a book, open the Bible, read an account of the Virgin Mary’s passing and bodily assumption to the heavens. I might suggest my favorite meditation during this season (which I read early in order to lend it to of you lucky people) “The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God” by Saint John Maximovitch. It is short, only 70 pages.
- Confess. If you have not confessed your sins since Great Lent (or longer) it’s probably time. This is the perfect opportunity to renew your relationship with Jesus Christ through sacramental confession.
This is a short but prayerfully intense season and our participation in it has the potential to greatly enhance our spiritual life. Do not allow this special time with God’s Mother to pass by without a thought, it is time to be with her, and to pray with her to her Son, and our God.
Now I am not trying to be smart, but, remember all you need to do is keep the first two weeks!