“In birth, you preserved your virginity; In death, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. As mother of life, you departed to the source of life, delivering our souls from death by your intercessions.” — Hymn of the Dormition of the Theotokos

Dearly beloved in the Lord,

The month of August is recognized by our Church as a time when we commemorate the Holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary. From August 1 - 14 we fast and pray beseeching her to intercede with her Son and our Savior for the health and well-being of mankind. Her obedience to God and her distinction as the handmaid of the Lord has endeared her to our Church from the beginning. We remember the importance of her life in God’s divine plan to bring salvation to all people and therefore, celebrate the Dormition of the Theotokos on August 15.

The feastdays of our Church are a celebration of life! Of course, we know this to be true every time we celebrate the Feast of feasts - PASCHA! Attentive to the teachings of our Church and aware of the Saints’ lives, we know that “...whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:15 & 16).

Life’s experiences mean that at some given time, we will face the death of a loved one. As Orthodox Christians, however, we look upon death in a triumphantly different way. The Dormition of the Theotokos is a reminder that we, too, will depart from this life “to the source of life.” We must also call to mind the words St. Paul uses when instructing the Philippians about death: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

The first two weeks of August have always provided me the opportunity to grow in faith and be strengthened by the intercessions of the Holy Mother of God. Anticipating these two weeks of prayer and fasting I have been reflecting upon the events of the last year. We can point to a number of successful endeavors in our Holy Metropolis and I am grateful for your prayers and support.

During these two weeks our parishes will be offering the services of Paraklesis (Supplication) to the Theotokos for the health and well-being of the parish family. Take time to submit your name and the names of your loved ones so that we might pray for your “health, salvation, visitation, pardon and remission of sins….”

For you, the faithful stewards of our Holy Metropolis, I ceaselessly pray: “Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed and glorious Lady, Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, with all the saints let us commit ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God….”

With Paternal Love in Christ,
+ G E R A S I M O S
Metropolitan of San Francisco