Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The Assumption of the Virgin
Today is the day no saint died.
My academic specialty is the study of sainthood in the Byzantine Empire. [Useless, huh?] Saints' days, and the readings that go with them are listed a a huge number of parchment documents called, among other things, menologia. Each saint is listed according to the day of his or her "birthday in heaven" (i.e. the day of his or her death). For some days there are tens of listed names. But for this day there are no names given but one.
This is among the oldest of all Christian festivals. It celebrates the arrival in heaven of she who is the "boundary of the created and the uncreated," the ever-virgin and all-immaculate Theotokos, the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Nothing could be further from everyday life. But the world over this day is celebrated. Why?
For Christians it is because She is the first of the redeemed, the first since Adam to give self completely over to God, the first to know that God is not some distant Creator, but a Person who takes responsibility for the chaos of the world, and is involved in it.
Today, no saint died because today is a day that celebrates in advance, and in shadows, the Christian belief that the world is a Comedy where good triumphs, and that the tragedy that surrounds us will all make sense one day.