At the time Mary was making all the arrangements for her repose, suddenly there was a loud noise like thunder and a heavy cloud hovered over the home of Saint John. By the command of God all the Apostles were seized from different places in the world and brought on this cloud to Jerusalem. All but Thomas were miraculously placed at the doorstep of Mary. As we know from other stories in Scripture this kind of gathering up was not an unique happening. Sometimes its hard to accept such stories but if God could create the universe then nothing is impossible in His eyes. Think of the miracle of the virgin birth, or the resurrection and ascension of our Lord. With faith everything is possible. So it is best not to close your mind or heart to such potential happenings and place our faith in the all -powerful God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This event is recorded in the writings of many of the Church Fathers.
Saint Cosmos (7th-8th c.) writes,
“carried to Zion as it were upon a swift cloud, the company of the Apostles assembled from the ends of the earth to minister to thee, O Virgin”
Saint John of Damascus (7th c.) writes,
“ It was right that the eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word should see the Dormition of His Mother according to the flesh, even the final mystery concerning her: hence, they might be witnesses not only to the Ascension of the Savior but also to the translation of her who gave Him birth. Assembled from all parts by divine power, they came to Zion, and sped on her way to heaven the Virgin who is higher than the cherubim.”
The Apostles rejoiced when they saw each other and wondered why the Lord had gathered them in this place. Saint John met them and told them about the imminent departure of the Theotokos. This news of her imminent departure brought sorrow to their hearts. They entered the room where the Theotokos lay on her bed and they saw that she had a joyful appearance. They greeted her, “Blessed is the Lord who made heaven and earth!” She replied, “Peace to you, brethren, chosen by the Lord Himself.” She then inquired about how they were able to get there and they explained how the Holy Spirit had brought them there. She marveled how they had come from such distant places. Then the Apostle Paul arrived and he praised her saying “Rejoice, Mother of my life and my preaching! Gazing on you now, I think that I see your Son. Then came Paul’s disciples, St. Dionysios the Areopagite, St. Heirotheos, Apostle Timothy along with others including the rest of the Seventy Apostles.
The Mother of God called each of them by name and praised their faith and work in preaching about Jesus Christ. She wished each of them eternal beatitude and prayed for the peace of the whole world. She told them what the angel had told her and about the Palm branch that was given to her by the angel.
She told them, “The Lord has brought you here for the consolation of my soul which , as our mortal nature demands, is soon to be separated from the body. Already the time appointed by my Creator draws nigh.”
They sorrowfully replied, “During your life on earth we were consoled by looking on you as on our Lord himself. But now deprived of your presence, how can we bear the sorrow that fills our souls? But now by the will of Him who was born of you, Christ God, you are going away to the heavenly home and it is imposssible for us not to rejoice at God’s decision regarding you. At the same time we cannot refrain from weeping that we are left like orphans as we will no longer be able to see you, our Mother and comforter.”
Notice the important role Mary played in the life of the early church. The Apostles said that she "consoled them like the Lord Himself. The feeling of being a "orphan" is surely an exclamation of the loss they would experience in their separation from her.
Mary replied to them “Watch and pray with me, that when the Lord comes to receive my soul, He will find you watching.” They all promised and prayed the whole night with psalms and chants.
The beloved disciple John then spoke emphasizing the important role she played in the church.
My Lady Mother of God and my Mother, thy beloved Son had left you as a consolation; and now you shall leave us? In all the world what will we humble Apostles have to console us? Who will teach and and guide us? What here on earth will encourage us if you leave us?
Hearing this Mary wept. She said,
“ Do not Sorrow, my children, for you make me sad when I see you cry so. Although I will be going to my Son, O friends of my Son, I will not be apart from you, nor from those who call on me. No, I shall be an intercessor and mediatress for all the Christians before my beloved Son. Therefore do not weep. Do not darken my joy by your sorrow and mourning. Rather rejoice with me, for I am going to my Son and God. My body that I have prepared for burial put in the earth in Gethsemane. Afterwords return to the preaching of the Gospel assigned to you. If the Lord wills, you will see me after my departure.
Life of the Virgin Mary pp 453-454
Again she explains her role would continue to be an important one even after her death. She told them that she will be an intercessor and mediatress for all Christians. She encouraged them to continue the important work they had already begun. See how central she was to them? This was a big loss for the Apostles but she assured them again and again that she would be able to help in a different way after her death.
A Matins Hymn
“When the translation of thy most pure tabernacle was being prepared, the Apostles surrounded thy deathbed and look upon thee with dread. And as they gazed at thy body, they were filled with awe. In tears, Peter cried aloud to thee: “O undefiled Virgin, I see thee who art the life of all mankind lying here outstretched, and I am struck with wonder: for He Who is the delight of the future life make His dwelling in thee. Pray the, fervently to thy Son and God to save the city from harm.”
Saint Gregory Palamas writes,
“The precepts and encouragements which she gave to God’s heralds (the Apostles) were sent throughout the whole world. thus she herself was both a support and comfort while she was both heard and seen among men. She labored with the rest in every way for the preaching of the Gospel. In such ways, she led a most strenuous manner of life proclaimed in mind and speech.”
(Homily 37 On the Dormition)