Friday, 14 November 2008
Well, I am more or less awake tonight, but still not completely back to normal. I have no idea why the sedation had such a powerful effect on me this time; however, I just keep hoping that eventually I will not fall asleep almost every time I sit down to read or work on the computer!
At any rate, I am well enough to post a new icon and comment on it.
This one is called "The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary". The Orthodox do not use this image but rather one called the "Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary". Dormition means "the falling asleep". I plan to draw that icon as well one of these days as it is quite beautiful.
Anyway, the story behind the Assumption is that when Blessed Mary became elderly and died, she did not remain in the tomb and decay as we creatures normally do. Her Son, Jesus, could not tolerate seeing his mother go through this process so he took her from her tomb and brought her to Heaven where He gave her a glorified body like His own. So when people have seen Our Lady through the centuries in various apparitions, what they are seeing is the Blessed Mother in different forms of her glorified and eternal body.
Actually, tradition has a wonderful story about Mary's death and assumption. I am not too sure of some of the details, but will try to tell it anyway.
As most of you know, when Jesus was dying on the cross, he told St.John to look after His mother and He told His mother to let John take care of her. So, she lived with John for many years after that. I am not sure of all the different places they lived, but I do recall that they were in Ephesus for some time.
As Mary was getting older and more sickly, she and John travelled to where the apostles and early church leaders were gathered. For some reason, John had to travel somewhere else for a day and it was during that day that the Blessed Mother died. With great sorrowing, the Christian community prepared her for burial and placed her in a tomb and rolled the stone over the entrance to the cave.
When John returned and discovered what had happened, he was terribly distressed and asked the Church leaders if he could be allowed to see the body. Graves were normally not opened -- especially after someone had been dead for a few days -- however, they agreed to allow John to see the beloved "mother" one last time.
As soon as the stone was rolled away, the people gathered there noticed the sweet smell of roses and other flowers -- not the smell of death and decay. Amazed, they made their way into the inner chamber where they found not the body of Mary, but mounds of roses and lilies and other sweet-smelling flowers where the body had lain.
They left the tomb rejoicing, convinced that their Lord had come for His mother and taken her to be with him eternally in Heaven.
If you look carefully at the icon I have drawn, you will see that at the bottom is an empty coffin surrounded by flowers. This represents the events I have just described. Also, at the top of the icon is the symbol for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- the one God -- drawing Mary up into the heavenly realms.
This icon, by the way, represents the fourth mystery of the five joyful mysteries. These five mysteries are: the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption and the Crowning of Mary as queen of Heaven. I have completed all of these now. I am still working on the Institution of the Eucharist -- one of the five Luminous mysteries.
Now I am feeling very sleepy again so I had better wish you peace and a good night!