Serbian Orthodox Church
The Dormition Fast
August 14 to August 28
by Fr. Rodney Torbic
The Dormition Fast begins on August 14 and continues until the Divine Liturgy on the
Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God, August 28. The Dormition Fast is one of four
major fast periods in the Orthodox Church. Great Lent, the Nativity Fast, and the Apostles
Fast are the other three major periods of fasting.
Serious Orthodox believers fast with joyful anticipation. Serious Orthodox Christians
firmly believe in the value of fasting. Serious Orthodox Christians consider fast periods as
times to redirect life toward the Kingdom of God.
The Dormition Fast concerns itself with the Mother of God. The Mother of God is near
and dear to Orthodox Christians. The Mother of God is unique among women in salvation history.
Out of all women, in all centuries, Mary was chosen to give birth to Jesus Christ. She has an
unprecedented and unduplicated relationship with Jesus Christ.
Prayers are offered to the Mother of God with regularity. Orthodox Christians beseech
the Mother of God to intercede with her Son. Miracles are attributed to the Mother of God.
Books have been written about the Mother of God. Churches have been named after the Mother
of God. People and communities have been named after the Mother of God.
A person could spend a lifetime researching everything written about and attributed
to the Mother of God. The Dormition Fast is an opportunity for Orthodox Christians to
seriously contemplate the Mother of God.
The Dormition Fast is an opportunity for Orthodox Christians to reflect upon the
Annunciation of Jesus Christ's birth. The Dormition Fast is an opportunity to think about
the Nativity of Jesus Christ. The Dormition Fast is an opportunity to remember Jesus Christ's
first miracle at the wedding of Cana.
The Mother of God holds a prominent position on the iconostasis of each Orthodox Church.
The Mother of God is referred to with great consistency in the services of the Holy Orthodox
Church. The Mother of God is held carefully in the heart of each Orthodox Christian.
The Dormition Fast invites us to reach deep within our hearts and minds to consider
the purity of the Mother of God. The Dormition Fast invites us to reach deep within our
hearts and minds to reverence the Mother of God. The Dormition Fast invites us to reach
deep within our hearts and minds to consider the obedience of the Mother of God.
The Holy Apostle Paul told the Romans: "And do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good
and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Rom.12:2)
The Dormition Fast provides us with a great period for renewal. The value of
the Dormition Fast increases for each person when he or she uses the time seriously
for spiritual wellness.
The Dormition Fast has a direct benefit for the world. By the action of the Church,
by the actions of Orthodox Christians in the Dormition Fast, life improves. Enough attention
is not given to the value of the Fasts of the Church in the betterment of communities.
Periods of fasting, the Dormition Fast included, are times for increased prayer.
Everyone is to pray. Orthodox Christians are familiar with certain prescribed prayers
and times for prayer. The Holy Apostle Paul set the lasting standard of prayer for all
believers. He told the Thessalonians: Rejoice always and pray without ceasing."
(I Thessalonians 5:17)
The goal for each Orthodox Christians is the goal of praying without ceasing.
Fast periods increase attention to prayer and give impetus to strive toward the goal
of unceasing prayer.
The Mother of God lived on earth. She was born to earthly parents. Her earthly
existence is recorded in Holy Scripture. She was chosen by God from among all women to
give birth to Jesus Christ.
The world is different due to the birth of Christ. The world is different to the life,
death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Mary is a constant figure in the life of
Christ. She was cared for by Him when He hung upon the Cross.
Centuries have passed. Interest in the Mother of God continues.
Orthodox believers speak of the Mother of God in the present tense. Though she gave birth
to Jesus Christ centuries and centuries ago, time is transcended when one talks about the
Mother of God.
Distance is transcended when Orthodox Christians speak of the Mother of God.
She is considered near to Orthodox believers regardless of their geographic location.
The earthly life of the Mother of God came to an end. This end is given great
attention on the Feast of the Dormition. The end of the Mother of God's earthly life
in no way ended her being venerated by Orthodox Christians. The end of the earthly life
of the Mother of God in no way ended her ability to intercede with her Son.
The value of intercessory prayer is known among Orthodox believers. It is common
for Orthodox Christians to pray for each other and to ask for the prayers of others
particularly in times of illness.
A person does not have to spend much time in an Orthodox environment before
realizing prayers are offered to the Mother of God that she may intercede with her Son.
Akathist services to the Mother of God are served in Orthodox Churches around the
world. Miraculous icons of the Mother of God draw large crowds of believers coming to
The Dormition to the Mother of God Fast is time limited. The Fast is a two week
period of time. A believer can find many ways to benefit from the Dormition Fast and many
ways to observe the Fast.
While fasting is an expectation for Orthodox Christians, Orthodox Christians exercise
the choice to fast freely. Each person knows him or herself the best. Each person knows when
he or she is honoring the fast.
God is not to be fooled. God will not be fooled. God knows when a person is fasting
in the intended spirit of the fast. Fasting to win earthly accolades from others has no
The Dormition Fast affords the believer the opportunity to reach beyond the self to God.
The Dormiton Fast affords the believer the opportunity to act in faith. The goal of each fast
period is to arrive at the feast as a better person.
During the fast, believers are to set aside ways of life which hinder the life in Christ.
St. Paul gives us much to think about in his words to the Corinthians when he says:
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being
transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."
(II Cor. 3:18)
The Dormition Fast brings us directly to our relationship with God. The Dormition
Fast brings us directly to our relationship with the Mother of God. The Dormition Fast calls
us to examine ourselves carefully and seriously as Orthodox believers.
We have a great responsibility as Orthodox Christians. We are expected to live our
lives as Orthodox Christians. When our burden is heavy, Jesus is present to help us find
rest for our souls. (Mt. 11:29)
The Dormition Fast draws us toward the joy of Jesus Christ. The Dormition Fast draws
us toward the Mother of God. The Dormition Fast is a daily reminder of the presence of the
Mother of God.
The love of Jesus Christ showed forth from the Cross. He showed love for His Mother.
He showed love for all humanity in all centuries. Mary has been a witness to and for
Jesus Christ unlike any other.
We do well when we invest our time in studying the life of the Mother of God and
in respecting the fast bearing her name. The investment we make in honoring the Dormition
Fast will be known to God. It is an investment in our life for God and an expression of
our love for God.
When we honor the Mother of God, we honor her Son. When we think about the Mother
of God, we come to think more about the Son of God, about her being chosen by God and
about the action of the Holy Spirit.
God honored Mary by choosing her from among all women. We do well when we treat
the Dormition Fast with great seriousness, that we may come to know Christ more,
that we renew our hearts and minds, and live more consistently with the teachings
of our Lord and Savior.
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