The Dormition of the Theotokos is part of the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church. It reminds us of the special place that Mary has in God’s plan of salvation. The story of the feast that is part of this session explains the Tradition concerning Mary’s dormition, and as you go over it with students there are a few points to emphasize: First, Mary truly died as all human beings die. She was in need of salvation as all human beings are. This is true in spite of the Church’s teaching that she had no significant personal sins. We believe that Mary was taken up to heaven, body and soul, to be with her Son, rather than lying in the grave. She takes part already in the everlasting life of the Kingdom of God. Another way of saying this is that she was “assumed” into heaven, which is why the feast is sometimes called the Assumption. It is also, though less frequently, called the Falling Asleep or Repose of the Theotokos, with all three titles meaning approximately the same thing. They all place emphasis on the fact that Mary’s death was unusual in that she did not remain in the grave. As with every wonderful thing the Church teaches us, this event of Mary’s dormition or falling asleep has meaning for us in our own lives. It tells us that if we strive to live blameless lives we, too, will eventually share in the eternal life of the Kingdom. Both the Troparion and the Kontakion for this feast emphasize the fact of Mary’s ever-virginity. It is the Church’s teaching that Mary remained a virgin all her life, and never bore any other children than her divine Son. Our teen-aged students are, of course, culturally bombarded with issues of sex and sexual activity. So it’s especially important that they understand that the emphasis on Mary’s virginity does not mean that the Church considers sex to be “dirty.” Sexual intercourse is, after all, the way God created for us to reproduce and to build families. Mary’s ever-virginity is a reflection of God’s greatness, first of all. God chose to emphasize the significance of the Incarnation by making the birth of Christ a miraculous one. But Mary’s ever-virginity also tells us something about her. She was willing to concentrate on the will of God. She did not allow herself to be distracted—to be “pulled off the path”—by worldly pleasures and concerns. As we have seen in previous sessions, she was neither prudish nor naive. But she was dedicated to doing the will of God, and kept herself free of powerful worldly temptations—of which sex is surely one of the strongest. When we call her “pure” and “holy” in hymns and prayers, this is what we mean.