August… the month we traditionally think of heaven.
Hmm. This year, I sometimes find myself wishing I could escape to heaven, at least in my imagination. It’s on a lot of people’s minds. Some of them wonder why “heaven” doesn’t do something about what’s been happening on earth this year. And between the Marian feasts of the Assumption (August 15) and the Queenship of Mary (August 22), the “vision” of heaven, though beautiful, seems remote from the struggles breaking our lives and hearts apart as the summer winds to a close.
The lyrics to my favorite hymn for the Feast of the Assumption paint a lovely picture of Mary in the blessed joy and glory of heaven: Who is she ascends so far / next the heavenly King? / Round about whom angels fly / and her praises sing.
The loving, living, giving, and suffering of her earthly life over, Mary now reigns in heaven as Queen of heaven and earth. It could almost seem a kind of well-earned eternal retirement, or a victory march, when she took her place in her coronation at the right hand of her Son. As though she lives now in some inaccessible heavenly “castle” where only royalty live!
Mary, however, as every one of her liturgical feasts reminds us, is a Mother. Still a Mother. Always a Mother. Our Mother. My Mother.
Mothers, by the beauty and grace of their sublime vocation, have an almost-superhuman willingness to sacrifice for the wellbeing of their children. Motherhood is the root and foundation of every other accomplishment and expertise a mother may bring to her role.
And how we need a Mother today! A woman who has been where we are. An exile. An immigrant. A widow. She who stood powerless but with faith beneath the cross as she watched her Son die. The woman who was the first disciple, listening to Jesus, lending her ear and then her heart to his bidding, translating it into action of love and obedient trust. We need this mother, teacher, and queen of the bewildered apostles who watched Jesus return to his Father and who, under his Mother’s guidance, began to find their way into the world as his ambassadors and witnesses.
This year, let’s focus on Mary who is standing next to us, each of us, the Mother we so long for. I don’t know about you, but I feel my mother next to me, even though she can no longer be physically near. It’s been said you never really get over the death of your mother, that you still need to feel her near.
This year we need our Mother more than ever. She does not remain in heaven, but comes into the lives of every one of us. Each of us has our own unique connection to her that grows through the years, shifting and changing, deepening and transforming.
If we feel confused, if we feel angry, if we feel lost, if our hearts are anxious, broken, or numb, she holds us in spirit as only she can, as only a Mother knows how to do.
We need our Mother this year, because so many around us need a mother.
A mother’s ear.
A mother’s embrace that says everything will be alright.
A mother’s patience that loves even as it allows a person the freedom to grow.
A mother’s heart that wisely offers the words, “Do whatever he tells you.”
The Assumption and the Queenship of Mary invite us all, this year, to be a part of her motherly strength and loving care for the brothers and sisters of her Son.
Soul of Mary, sanctify me.
Heart of Mary, inflame me.
Hands of Mary, support me.
Feet of Mary, direct me.
Immaculate eyes of Mary, look upon me.
Lips of Mary, speak for me.
Sorrows of Mary, strengthen me.
O Mary, hear me.
In the wound of the Heart of Jesus, hide me.
Let me never be separated from thee.
From my enemy defend me.
At the hour of my death call me,
And bid me to come to thine Immaculate Heart;
That thus I may come to the Heart of Jesus,
And there with the saints praise thee
For all eternity. Amen.
Click here for a VIDEO Adoration Guide, Entrusting Ourselves to Mary