Waking up on Aug. 15

“Our Advocate rose up to heaven, so she will arrange for our salvation as Mother of the Judge, the Mother of Mercy.” —St. Bernard, Homily on the Feast of the Assumption

Peter Paul Rubens, “The Assumption of Mary,” 1626
Peter Paul Rubens, “The Assumption of Mary,” 1626 (photo: Public Domain)

It's 6 a.m. on Aug. 15, and you are faced with a stark choice. There are two different routes you can travel until evening, and no one is forcing you to take either way.

If you choose the first route, you would go back to sleep, and then drag your earthly body out of bed by 7 a.m., and carry on, life as usual. You would go to work, sip a decaf cappuccino and down a granola bar for lunch, grab your paycheck, go home, hug the kids, watch Jeopardy, say a few night prayers and launch into your bed early. You would have made money, and enjoyed life — at least a little.

If you’re a stay-at-home mom and you decide to choose the first route, you’d wake the kids up, get breakfast on the table, do some fun summer school things, and get a whole lot of housework done like you always do (without feeling like you did much), make a nice supper for your husband and watch the Waltons with the kids before you tuck them in bed with a blessing.

By traveling this first path, you would treat Aug. 15 like just another ordinary day.

Or, you can take the second route. You can get out of bed with a joyful heart, and get the family ready to go to Holy Mass (which is a major effort if you have kids) to show your love and devotion to Our Lady. After Mass, you can let the feast day come alive for your children by making ice cream floats with them in memory of the Blessed Mother rising up to Heaven. You can also spend time reading a meditation about the Assumption, and dwell in the sacred silence of this mystery of mysteries. You can savor this glorious dogma, put your hand in Mary’s, and surrender your life to her once again.

With a little effort, you may live and breathe the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and honor your Heavenly Mother as she so deserves. If you do so, she will surely bless you in return, in more ways than you can imagine. Your soul will be touched by grace because you opened it to be so.

Besides, you never know if this may be the last Feast of the Assumption you are privileged to celebrate, or the last one you get to celebrate with others. And if you are a parent, you will make an impression on your children that they will never forget. You will teach them that Holy Days are holy, and that life must stop for a day, in order that God may be placed in the center of our lives and our hearts, where he belongs. You will show them how to rest in awe of Mary, the Queen of Heaven, and crown her with acts of piety all throughout their lives.

Since about the fifth century, the Catholic Church has held implicitly the belief in the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, body and soul, into heaven. This can be safely concluded by looking at the Holy Mass, pious documents and the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. The dogma was officially promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

As we pray the Rosary on the Feast of the Assumption, we may contemplate Mary’s ethereal beauty, meditating on the words of St. Josemaría Escrivá, who once preached on this feast day:

Assumpta est Maria in coelum: gaudent angeli! God has taken Mary body and soul to Heaven: and the Angels rejoice! So sings the Church. And so, with that same outburst of joy, do we begin our contemplation in this decade of the Holy Rosary: The Mother of God has fallen asleep. Around her bed are the twelve Apostles. Matthias in the place of Judas. And we, through a grace respected by all, are also at her side. But Jesus wants to have his Mother, body and soul, in Heaven. And the heavenly Court, arrayed in all its splendor, hails Our Lady. You and I, children after all, take the train of Mary’s magnificent blue cloak, and so we can watch the marvelous scene. The most Blessed Trinity receives and showers honors on the Daughter, Mother, and Spouse of God… And so great is Our Lady’s majesty that the Angels exclaim: Who is she?