Feasts & Memories of Virgin Saint Mary
The Reason behind the Fast of our Lady the Virgin Mary
Our Lord Jesus Christ promised her that on the time assigned for her soul to part with her body that He will be attending to her to receive her pure soul unto His gracious Divine hands.
Thus when the blessed hour for Virgin Mary to part with this world approached, the apostles attended and those who were far away in distant places away from Jerusalem, they were carried on the clouds to the Virgin Mary who was lying on her bed. Also the ‘nuns’ of Mount Zeitoun, who followed Virgin Mary as their role model in prayers, fasting and dedication to the Lord in purity and holiness, attended this hour, together with a number of believers. Our Lady Virgin Mary extended her hands and blessed the disciples as she bid them farewell. Then all of a sudden, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared enclosed in heavenly divine light, surrounded by angels and archangels under the leadership of Archangel Michael. The Lord Jesus drew near to His mother, consoling and encouraging her, revealing to her, her perpetual happiness. As her soul parted normally with her body, the Lord received her pure soul unto His gracious Divine hands and handed this precious soul unto Archangel Michael, then Lord Jesus in His sovereignty ascended with His angels and archangels unto Heaven.
Hence, the pure disciples stepped forward and enshrined the body of their Lady St. Mary, placed it in a coffin and carried it heading towards Gethsemane (located near Mount Zeitoun), the place that witnessed the pains and sufferings of our Redeemer. But the evil Jews, having known that Virgin Mary passed away, didn’t want the disciples to bury her body peacefully. They blocked the way and they insisted to snatch her body in order to throw it over the side of the mountain – to be devoured by the beasts. One of them was rash and evil enough to get a hold of the coffin! However, a horrifying thing happened to him – Arch Angel Michael struck him by his sword, and his arms were cut off. The man screamed out of pain, crying with regret, asking the disciples to plead for him. The pure apostles prayed to God asking the Virgin Mary to intercede on his behalf. As a result, his arms were restored to his body, and he walked away in shame.
According to the tradition of our church, as handed down to us by Saint Pope Cyril the 1st well known as “the pillar of faith” (417-444) A.D., this man is the same man of infirmity whom Jesus healed when He saw him lying near the poop of Bethesda, and was sick for 38 years. Yet Jesus Christ, after healing him said unto him, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him,“See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” (John 5:14). But the man didn’t take heed by this warning, and did not benefit from Christ’s advice. He sinned again as “a dog returns to its own vomit” (2 Peter 2:22), (Proverbs 26:11). He was not grateful to Lord Jesus Christ who healed him and was generous with him, but rather, in an evil brutal way, attacked the coffin of Virgin Mary mother of the Saviour, intending to do evil to her pure body. But God intervened at the right time and His archangel Michael separated his arms from his body by his sword. So he repented in tears and hopefully had benefited from this severe punishment.
After this occasion, the blessed disciples were able to carry the body of their lady safely unto Gethsemane, placing it peacefully into the tomb which still exists until today. After sealing the tomb, the disciples couldn’t leave the site after the funeral process was over, because they could hear the voices of angels saying praises and hymns for 3 days continuously …
When the heavenly voices were no longer heard, the disciples considered this as permission for them to leave Gethsemane and return to their home places, in order to carry on with their spiritual services.
On their way back, they met St. Thomas their partner in the apostolic service coming back from India, carried on a cloud that put him down at Gethsemane. They blamed him for the delay and informed him of the departure of Virgin Mary and all the spiritual events that accompanied her departure. They explained to him that the Lord Christ personally attended during the moments of her departure i.e. the departure of His blessed mother receiving her saintly soul unto his Divine hands, and then He returned up to heaven unto His throne.
St. Thomas. The apostle was listening silently without any interruption. After St. Thomas heard all about the event, he asked the disciples to take him back to Gethsemane to see the body of the Virgin Mary for himself, so that he may take blessings of the pure body as they did. St. Thomas also wanted to verify what happened, especially that he is the only apostle who was skeptical about the resurrection of Lord Jesus Christ and His apparition to the disciples, which he did not witness; hence, he asked to see Him in person and to see and touch the marks of His wounds in order to believe (John 20:24,25). The disciples consented to his request. They accompanied him back to Gethsemane. They opened up the grave, but to their astonishment, they didn’t find the body of the Virgin Mary, instead the atmosphere was overwhelmed by a sweet scent of incense that was spiritually refreshing. The disciples thought that most probably the Jews came and stole the body of Virgin Mary out of their evil intentions.
Hence, St. Thomas said, “Calm down brothers, the Jews did not steal the body of our lady, mother of our Redeemer, but rather, it is the will of God –Almighty that the pure body of Virgin Mary does not remain buried in the grave. The reason being, is that this body is now considered a second heaven, where our Lord dwelled for 9 whole months, receiving His human body and being nourished, after which He was born - thus appearing among humans.”
St. Thomas added, “That is why it is the will of God that this pure body does not remain buried and become liable to decay and be eaten-up by worms & insects. So the pure body was dignified by being raised up to heaven, carried on the wings of angels. I myself, your brother and partner, who partook in the pains of the Christ, have witnessed the pure body of our lady Virgin Mary carried on the wings of angels up to heaven as I was carried by a cloud coming from India, passing onto the mountains of ‘Akhmum’ in Upper-Egypt.”
The disciples listened with awe and admiration as well as happiness. According to the ecclesiastic sources, the apostles fasted and prayed so that He may reveal to them the location of the body of our Lady the Virgin Mary in paradise. Indeed, God heeded their prayers and He revealed it to them.
May the blessings, the prayers, and the intercessions of our Lady the Virgin Mary be with us all, amen.