The feast day that we celebrate on August the 15th was originally named “the Dormition” or “the falling asleep” of Mary, the mother our God. It is still called the Dormition in the Eastern Church. Unfortunately, our Anglican tradition stopped celebrating this day in all places except in a few Anglo-catholic parishes for nearly 400 years. It was not until the revisions of 1960 & 70’s that this feast day was included once into our calendars once again.
The collect for this feast day of the “Dormition” stresses 3 points which are perfectly inline with the early church's celebration of this day:
O God, you have taken to yourself the Blessed Virgin Mary,
mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we,
who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
1] This collect confesses that upon her death (Dormition), God has taken Mary to himself. 2] Like the early church the collect addresses Mary as both blessed & still a virgin, & 3] Like the early church the collect uses her earliest title theotokos & translates it as “mother of your incarnate son,” meaning, mother of God!
After having made those 3 assertions, the prayer then beseeches God to help us who have been purchased by the blood of Christ (redeemed) to share in her glory eternally. This then is a prayer that connects us to MARY in a very particular way; it makes her our exemplar!
While ther are many ways that serves as our example, today's gospel (The Magnificat) presents Mary to us as one with great honor, and one who is highly elevated, yet full of humility in the midst of her elevation. Like Mary, the church also possesses the living God within her very body, and is called to go around as servants helping all who are in need, with no pomp or motivation of temporal recompense, possessing all yet poor.
Second, the magnificat presents Mary as an eternal portrait of God’s victorious (saving) work. This is no less true for the church, like Mary, the church is that same portrait. Mary's example to us is to treat our temporality as a fraction of reality. In short, as we face the problems of this life we are to be painting portraits of Christ’s eternal life. The story told by this portrait is life and its problems inbedded in etrnality. More specifically, we see in the magnificat that Mary saw this present life through the eyes of a mystical theologian. By that I mean that she seemed to be living in the end of the ages while even she was here in the middle of the age. We, the church, are to follow her lead and embrace the present knowing that we have arrived at the end of all things. Consider your problems in light of the reality that our time like Mary's will never running out, & you will turn your responses to those problems on their heads! You will live like a saint who already dwells in the heavens; you will live like Mary with God in her, here and now.
Grant O Lord that we, who have been redeemed by Christ’s blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom.
(An excerpt from the Homily on the Dormition 2010, by The Rev Fr. Carlos Miranda)