Today, August 6, 2019, marks 224 days since last Christmas. (It’s important to let this sink in before the retail world starts bombarding us with how many shopping days are left before the next Christmas. If you are interested, there are 141 days before next Christmas—4 months and 19 days…).
There have been approximately four months since the celebration of the Paschal Triduum which normally occurs somewhere around early to mid-April.
So the Church, in her wisdom, bids us stop once more to celebrate liturgical mysteries that transform our lives as much as the Incarnation, death and Resurrection of the Lord. August offers us three heavenly mysteries which reveal to us what has been given us through the immense love of the Father who sent his only Son to redeem the creatures whom he created and with whom he remains madly in love.
The end of December brings us to the crib, where we kneel with shepherds and kings before a child who with his shiny eyes looks on us with such love. That child was both Son of God and Son of Mary, Emmanuel God-with-us, our Redeemer, our Teacher, Healer and Master. How could it be, we wonder in the liturgies of the Christmas Season that God would take on our human nature that we might take on the divine.
Four months later we stand beneath the cross, aware anew at what cost God has loved us. As Mary of Bethany, Jesus breaks the precious vessel of his body on the hill of Calvary and releases over the earth the fragrance of a most extravagant perfume, anointing us his brothers and sisters, co-heirs with him, children of his eternal Father. We stand as witness to the truth of the resurrection of Christ, and the miracle of mercy testified by the resurrections in our own lives.
On August 6 we celebrate the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor, when our Lord appeared in his divine glory before the apostles Peter, James, and John. This event came at a critical point in the ministry of our Lord, just as he was setting out on his journey to Jerusalem. He would soon experience the humiliation, suffering, and death of the cross. However, the glorious light of the Resurrection was revealed to strengthen his disciples for the trials that they would soon experience.
The feast also points to the glorious Second Coming of our Lord and the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God when all of creation will be transfigured and filled with light.
On August 15 we will celebrate the Assumption of Mary body and soul into heaven. Eric M. Johnston helps us think about this great feast in the light of what God wants for all of us. “God wants to bring Mary—and all of us—body and soul to heaven. He wants his Empire to extend that far, to save us in our entirety. And that’s why he did all those other things. That’s why he did the Incarnation and the Cross—so that we could reach the heavenly mysteries of August.”
On August 22 we celebrate the Queenship of Mary. God crowned Mary Queen of heaven and earth. Johnston reflects: “Mary participates fully, in every aspect of her person, in the glorious joys of heaven; everything is at the service of this mystery, everything comes together in the fulfillment prefigured in Mary’s coronation.”
August, then, is about a new heavens and a new earth, the celebration of the Kingdom inaugurated by Jesus Christ by which you and I and the world are saved, body and soul. The glory shining on the face of Christ shines also in our souls even now, to radiate in all its fullness one day when the Kingdom comes to fulfillment in us. For where Mary has gone, we are to follow.
May this month of heavenly mysteries reorient all of us—especially as we cope in our minds and hearts and souls with the darkness wrought by recent acts of violence and hate—to an intentional common pilgrimage to that eternal Jerusalem where we already are citizens, where the saints and angels long to have us as their companions, where the Father waits to receive us and to crown his mercies effected in us for his glory.
Blessings, Sr Kathryn