I hope you are well and safe, as we cope with the coronavirus pandemic and the protests on our streets. Don’t forget, all the friars are praying for you and for your intentions.
I attended a funeral for a man who died recently from the coronavirus, and his wife of 42 years was inconsolable. They had planned to have all this time together and now that would never happen. A few weeks after the funeral, the wife’s daughter told me that she and her widowed mother were having heated discussions almost every day. The widow wanted to spend thousands of dollars on a huge memorial tombstone for her husband, but the daughter felt that this was not what her father would have wanted, and that instead it was money that could be donated to a charity. The daughter asked me to speak with her mother.
In talking with this lovely widow, I could understand the grief she was feeling and how she thought that this enormous monument to her husband would be a tribute and a lasting memorial to their love for each other. As we continued to speak over the course of a few days, she began to see that no monument could ever capture their love for each other. A monument that didn’t have life and love in itself could not reflect their life together and their love for each other.
As you know, there are many stories and customs surrounding Mary’s death, where she died and how old she might have been. Tradition tells us that as the time of her death approached, the disciples of our Lord, who were preaching throughout the world, returned to Jerusalem to see Mary, the Mother of God. Except for the Apostle Thomas, all of them, including the Apostle Paul, were gathered together at her bedside.
Following her death, Mary’s body was taken in procession and laid in a tomb near the Garden of Gethsemane. When the Apostle Thomas arrived three days after her repose and desired to see her body, the tomb was found to be empty. The bodily assumption of the Virgin Mary was confirmed by the message of an angel.
Many of these stories come to mind as we celebrate The Feast of the Assumption of Mary.
Please join us in prayer as we honor our most Blessed Mother with our Great Novena of the Assumption!
On this Feast Day, we rejoice that God reunited Mary with Jesus. And we recall that upon her Assumption Mary became the “Queen of Heaven,” continuing her role as God’s special servant by offering her prayers and help to all of us.
Imagine the joy of the Lord Jesus as He is reunited with His Mother, the woman who stood by Him throughout His life, whether in good times or in the difficult times of His ministry, Passion and death on the Cross.
Imagine the wonderment of Mary as she opened her eyes in heaven and saw the beatific face of her Son, filled with joy at being with Him again.
Her joy is the same as ours will be when, in our death, we will open our eyes to see the face of the Lord we love so much!
Did you also know that August 15th is St. Anthony’s birthday? This is wonderful, because St. Anthony is one of the reasons we understand and try to emulate Mary today. By caring for the least among us… By reaching out with a kind heart when others find themselves homeless, hungry, ill or in despair… By mirroring her faith and her actions… we show gratitude to Mary for her prayers, her help and the comfort she provides when we are in pain, lonely or ill. God has been generous to each of us, and we should be generous to God’s poor and to those who need our care and support.
This is what the Franciscans and St. Anthony’s Guild are trying to do every day – and we need your help to continue. Mary’s great love led her to greater love, and so does yours.
So many depend on your love for them and the generous action that must come with that love. Please continue to help us help the poor and needy. We cannot do this alone, and so many depend on us every day for food, shelter and love.
Thank you again for your generosity and care for the Mother of God and for your gift in honor of her Assumption, the celebration of the reuniting of Mother and Son in heaven forever. May Our Lady of the Assumption always intercede for you!
Fr. David Convertino, OFM
St. Anthony’s Guild