Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Appearance of the Theotokos to The Apostles

The Virgin also appeared to the holy Apostles after her repose, as did her Son. After the Ascension of our Lord, whenever the Apostles shared a meal together, it was their custom to leave a place at their table for the Master Christ.

After her bodily disappearance from the tomb, it was towards evening and they sat down in order to refresh themselves with a little food.

As was their custom, they would cut a cube of bread and place it at the head

of the table as Christ's portion. And when they finished the meal and offering thanks, they would elevate this portion, proclaiming, "Great is the name of the Holy Trinity! 0 Lord Jesus Christ, help us!" And each would partake of a small piece thereof as a blessing. This custom continued not only when they were together but even when they were far from one another.

At this meal, however, they spoke and thought of nothing but of the Virgin's empty tomb. Now when they had finished eating and had come to the conclusion of their prayers, they again followed their custom of lifting up the portion of bread put aside to honor the Lord and glorify the Trinity. Suddenly, they heard angelic singing. Raising their eyes, they beheld standing, in the air, the Theotokos, who was surrounded by a multitude of angels. She was suffused with an ineffable light, and said to the Apostles, "Rejoice, for I am with you all the days of your liVeS!"32 Indeed, she is not only with her Son's Apostles, but she is also with all the faithful and devout Orthodox Christians of all the ages.

Upon seeing her, they were filled with joy and cried aloud, "All-holy Mother of God, save us!" This is what they exclaimed instead of the usual, "Lord Jesus Christ, help us." Thus they were all convinced that the Mother of God, like her Son, had risen on the third day and had been translated bodily into the heavens. Ever since, a piece of bread has also been set aside in her name, hence the appellation, Panagia, or All-holy (one).33 For a precious keepsake, the Apostles then returned to the tomb and took the shroud for the consolation of the sorrowful and as authentic evidence of her rising from the tomb .

Thus, they were convinced that the Mother of Life, although she had died, yet rose, like her Son, to eternal life; and that her body, having been raised, was lifted up to Heaven by Jesus, her Son and the Saviour of our souls.

Thus, in the pure Virgin, vanquished were the laws of nature. Her virginity was preserved in birthgiving, and life was united with death. And remaining a virgin after giving birth, and alive after death, she prays unceasingly, as our Mother, for her inheritance.

Then, Peter, in fervent faith and abundant tears, exclaimed: Rejoice, Mother of the Creator, ascending to the world on high. Rejoice, thou who wast taken above the heavens, being more spacious than heaven. Rejoice, thou who brought gladness unto the heavenly hosts with thy passage above. Rejoice, thou who art received into the most splendid Jerusalem on high. Rejoice, thou who art entering most joyfully the temples not made with hands. Rejoice, Queen of the cherubim and seraphim. Rejoice, refuge and deliverance of the faithful. Rejoice, help and defense of thy heritage. Rejoice, 0 intercessor unto God for all the Christian world. Rejoice, 0 all-good bestower of all that is good.

As we know, through divine providence, the Apostle Thomas was not present during the funeral procession. Having thoughts within himself, he also rejoiced in her

Dormition and translation, and cried out, Rejoice, thou who wast taken from the earth in the hands of thy Son. Rejoice, thou who ascended on high to enjoy His glory. Rejoice, thou who wast escorted above by all the leaders of the angels. Rejoice, thou who wast extolled with majestic hymns at the gates of heaven by the superior hosts. Rejoice, 0 earthly heaven raised up unto the tabernacle on high. Rejoice, 0 throne of the Lord, who ascended from earth into the heavenly kingdom. Rejoice, 0 our intercessor and strong

defense. Rejoice, intercessor of sinners unto salvation. Rejoice, Queen of them that call themselves by thy Son's name and, who, after God, art the hope of the heavenly

kingdom. Rejoice, Mother of Life who, after the Lord, art unto us hope of eternal life.

Then the same cloud by which the Apostles had been brought carried them back each to his own place. Thus, they were witnesses not only to the Ascension of the Saviour but also to the translation of her who gave Him birth.

Each Apostle then continued preaching and telling the great things of God, and praising our Lord Jesus Christ.

Life of the Virgin Mary pp 487-489

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