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Jesus and Saul at the Gates of Damascus

Thus occurs a meeting, unexpected as a thunderbolt, at the gates of Damascus: a light from heaven inundates Saul and he falls prostrate to the ground. Thus begins the first conversation between two lovers. Saul hears an unknown voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” to which Saul replies, “Who art thou, Lord?” The voice replies (its sound can be heard though nothing is seen), “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” (Acts 9:4, 5)  This is the first “thou and I” between Jesus and Saul. How often will such conversations be renewed between them!

We all know the details of this marvellous story: Saul is led by his companions into Damascus. A meeting takes place with Ananias in the home of one of the first Christians in one of the quarters surrounding the Via Recta of Damascus. The Apostle Ananias, first Bishop of Damascus, baptizes Saul in the river Barada and so Saul is transformed from a hateful figure to a “chosen vessel, who will bear (the) name (of Jesus Christ) before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel… and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 9:15, 17)

Dormition

O Mother of God, in giving birth you preserved virginity; * and in falling asleep you did not forsake the world. * You are the Mother of Life and have been transferred to life, * and through your prayers you deliver our souls from death. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Neither the tomb nor death could detain the Mother of God, * who is unsleeping in her prayers and our unfailing hope in her intercession; * for He Who dwelt in her ever-virgin womb, * transferred to Life the Mother of Life. (Kontakion - Tone 2)