Dormition celebrated in the Russian Church in Dandenong
"Dormition ... None born on earth are so glorified, so elevated, so exalted, as the Mother of Christ our God. When we have the great saints pray for intercession to God, we beseech them, "pray to God for us;" but when we look to her as Queen of the Almighty, we beseech her, "Most Holy Mother of God save us." And the Church, present in the great and glorious day of her triumph speaks of her as "Mother of God constant in prayer. . .” Therefore, no matter how sinful and unworthy we may be, we will gladly say that she is the Mother of the human race, and the Heavenly Mother of us all." Metropolitan Filaret (Voznesensky)
Last Wednesday, the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Parish in Dandenong celebrated its Patronal Feast Day. On Tuesday, 27 August 2013, the Vigil Service was celebrated with the placing on the tomb of the shroud of the Mother of God. On Wednesday, 28 August 2013, a solemn service began with welcoming His Grace Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Australia and New Zealand. With the blessing of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, the festal Hierarchical Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Grace Bishop Irinej. Concelebrating clergy came from Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney and Adelaide. Before the Divine Liturgy, the Lesser Blessing of Water took place, with the rite of the Patronal Procession solemnised following the Divine Liturgy. It was gratifying to note that in spite of the duration of the services, the church was filled with worshipers from all Orthodox traditions. There were many communicants, especially children.
At the end of the service, His Grace Bishop Irinej in his homily reminded all once again what it means for the people of the Orthodox faith to celebrate the Great Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God - first of all this is evidence that the Virgin has been translated from the world of temporal life to eternal life. Therefore the repose of the Virgin is known the Dormition, and not death. With any ordinary human death, when the body returns to the earth corruption is initiated; however the corruption of death did not touch the Highly Favoured One. "Winning the laws of nature in you, O Virgin”, the Holy Church celebrates in the Troparion, “In giving birth, you preserved your virginity. In falling asleep, you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos. You were translated to life, O Mother of Life, and by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.” For after three days in the tomb, which could not hold the Mother of Life, her incorruptible body was translated into the heavenly, imperishable abode. She did rest in a sweet sleep, but could not be held by death, for as the Kontakion notes, “Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. For being the Mother of Life, she was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.”
On behalf of the fraternal Serbian Church, Bishop Irinej congratulated the parishioners on their Feast Day. A special honour was then bestowed upon the Dean of the host parish and Vicar General of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in Australia and New Zealand, the Very Reverend Mitred Archpriest Fr Michael Protopopov. “The Serbian Orthodox Church”, noted His Grace, “also claims Fr Michael as its own, not only because of his support, but also by right of his birth in Belgrade.” In conclusion, the Bishop presented Fr Michael with Order of St Sava in the Second Degree for his long-standing assistance to the Serbian Orthodox Church. The award was presented, with the consent of Metropolitan Hilarion, First Hierarch of ROCOR, by decision of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church, signed by His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej.
In his response, Fr. Michael expressed his gratitude to His Grace Bishop Irinej and through him to the entire Serbian Church for the honour. "I am very touched by such attention to my humble contributions” said Fr Michael. “I am truly close to the Serbian people, not only because we are brothers in the faith, but their homeland - this is my home, where I was born.” He continued by noting that he had just returned from a trip to Serbia, where, among all else, he was able to visit the graves of his relatives.
At the Russian Community Centre, where there were laden banquet tables, the clergy warmly congratulated the parishioners on their Feast Day. The Dean, Fr Michael thanked all those who come to share their Parish Feast. In his address, given in the presence of His Grace Bishop Irinej, Fr Michael also voiced his appreciation for all that Bishop Irinej has done whilst in Australia for the Russian Orthodox Church and their faithful. In recognition of the same, on behalf of Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, Head of the House of Romanov, who had earlier bestowed upon the Bishop the Imperial Order of St Anne of the Imperial House of Russia, Fr Michael presented him with a commemorative medal in honour of the 400th Anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty.