Friday, August 15, 2014

Aug. 15, 2014 Friday: Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary

Several days ago, I went to Maryland to visit my sister’s family. My sister has three children, ages 9, 7, and 5 year-old. The weather was nice, so I took all the children to the neighborhood for a bike ride. The blue sky was dotted with cotton candy-like fluffy clouds. The 5-year old, Seelos, while pointing to heaven asked me, “How can I get up there in the clouds? I want to be up there in the clouds.” I sensed though, that he

wanted something more than to just be in the clouds. His father later told me of a fascinating conversation he had with with the 5-year old. Seelos asked his dad, “How can I go to Heaven now?” His dad replied, “One has to die in order to go to Heaven.” Seelos replied, “Well then, I want to die now.” His dad then said, “Well, we don’t want you to die now. Mommy and I will be very sad." Seelos then replied, “You and mommy can die now and come with me to Heaven.”

The 5-year old pointed out a profound desire that is innate in all of us. That desire is stirred up whenever we look up in the sky; when we look up, we get in touch with our deep longing to be at a place called Heaven which we do not yet grasp completely with our minds. Perhaps our minds find it easier to visualize it when it is called Paradise. It is as though we want to go back to the Garden of Eden from which our fore parents were expelled through the Original Sin. No human attempt was successful in allowing anyone to re-enter this paradise, until Jesus came and forged a definitive way back to Paradise through his passion, death, and resurrection. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except through me.” And to Martha who was grieving the death of her brother Lazarus Jesus said, “Your brother will rise…I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” The one who believed Jesus’ words to the very core of her being was his mother, Mary.

Blessed Mother was given a privilege that no earthly human person has ever received—being created without Original Sin—or as she told St. Bernadette of Lourdes, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” With this singular privilege, at the time of her death, Jesus not only fulfilled her ardent longing for Heaven by taking her soul but also took her body as well. It was with the resurrection of Jesus that we began to hope for our resurrection. And it was with her Assumption—that is assumption of both her body and soul-that we began to see concretely the promise of our own future bodily resurrection.

My 5-year old nephew is named after Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos who was a well-known and beloved Redemptorist priest in New Orleans. It is Seelos’ parents' hope that he share the same saintly life of Father Seelos, who courageously cared for his parishioners who were dying of Yellow Fever. Father Seelos had tremendous devotion to Blessed Mother. It was while he was the pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption Church in New Orleans that he welcomed the invitation from Jesus to come Home. Perhaps Father Seelos is encouraging my nephew to desire Heaven, which prompted the little one to ask me about getting to the fluffy clouds.

We have a Mother in Heaven who loves us with a love that we cannot fathom. Her desire is for each of us to share her privilege to be in Heaven as saints. She longs for us to grow closer to her Son by imitating her humility and charity. As we pray the Rosary, we become aware of her presence in each moment of our day and her desire for us to do whatever Jesus tells us.

Blessed Mother, may the glory of your holy assumption move us to abandon ourselves to the Lord’s promises. May our minds and hearts always long to accomplish the will of Our Lord here on earth. May we desire to see the glory and the majesty of your Son in Heaven with you.