BY CARDINAL TIMOTHY M. DOLAN
Don’t you just hate to see August coming to an end?
Our schoolkids—and even our teachers—sure do, as they start getting the backpacks ready to get back to school.
Those of us who enjoy the abundance of tomatoes, melons, corn, and strawberries sure do.
These “lazy, hazy, crazy days” of summer are in the seventh-inning stretch as August nears its conclusion.
Another reason I relish August is because of the numerous feasts honoring the Blessed Mother of Jesus:
We began with the Feast of St. Alphonsus, whose spiritual children, the Redemptorists, promote devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and of St. Dominic, who preached the power of Our Lady’s Rosary;
We peak with August 15, the Assumption, and, only a week later, Mary Our Queen.
The Irish remind us of the other August feast, Our Lady of Knock, on August 21, and the Poles won’t let us forget Our Lady of Czestochowa, on August 26.
We’ll miss August and her celebrations of Mary.
A number of years back, a friend, an Episcopalian bishop, told me he had often considered conversion to our Catholic faith, but had been put off by our belief in the Assumption of Mary, as God the Father brought her, body and soul, to be with her Son, Jesus, forever in heaven.
I shared with him that this conviction of our faith was actually one of the many reasons I prized my Catholic Faith.
No “up-in-the-sky,” cerebral, “spiritual” religion are we: the body, and the beauty (August!) and mess of God’s creation are essential for us.
God’s Son was incarnate, taking a human nature, and body, from His Mother, Mary. No ghost, no phantom, was He, but flesh and blood.
And the fitting conclusion of His Mother’s earthly journey was that she was taken, assumed, body, and soul into heaven.
The body is sacred. Oh, to be sure, it can be misused and an occasion of sin, as I am reminded each time I stand on the scale!
But, our bodies were fashioned by God, in His image and likeness when united with our soul. St. Paul tells us our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit.” Mary tells us our bodies, and our souls, are destined for eternity in heaven.
Look for a moral lesson here: never would we treat our body, or that of another, with anything but reverence.
Misuse of drugs or alcohol?…no!
Sexual promiscuity, abuse of another, pornography?…no!
Excessive tattoos and piercing of the body?…no!
Mutilation of the body through “gender surgery”?…no!
Scattering of cremated remains, or storing them in a box in the attic?…no!
An observer once asked me, “why do you Catholics anoint the body at Baptism, and incense the body at a funeral? The Bible tells us anointing with oil and use of incense is intended for divine alone.”
I suggested he had just answered his own question.