The Queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold. Psalm 45:10
August 11: On the weekend preceding the Feast of the Assumption, I was blessed with a weekend away from the city at a friend’s lake home in the woods of northern Wisconsin. I am determined to make the most of the summer weekends before autumn sets in and the warm, sunny days become less frequent. Minnesota natives are acquainted with this feeling of urgency: the summer days are splendid, but in short supply. We must enjoy them while we can, before the long winter returns again.
I have not said the rosary for a number of months. I used to be more devoted to this prayer when I was younger and a newly converted Catholic. Life has intervened with the demands of kids, family and work. The rosary requires discipline and it requires setting aside the time. This is not a ten-minute prayer or even a twenty-minute prayer. This is a forty-five minute prayer. I am determined to make the rosary a part of my routine again in honor of the Feast of the Assumption. Why? Because it is a powerful way to transform your life and break through problems or issues that you cannot resolve on your own. I once had a cataclysmic experience in 2003 while saying the rosary in a gazebo overlooking the rocky shore of Lake Superior. I know without question that several miracles which occurred in my life were the direct result of saying the rosary in that location and asking for Mary’s intercession. One of these miracles was the birth of my second daughter, Isabel Clare, after years of waiting for this to happen. (My two daughters are eleven years apart in age.)
I began the process of my new morning devotion this time overlooking Long Lake from my friend’s sundeck, deep in the woods. It was about 9:00 a.m. and still very quiet. The speedboats were not yet out on the lake, zipping by with water-skiers and inner-tubes of screaming children. It was too early in the day for the pontoons laden with sunburned families and beer coolers.
The upper deck was surrounded by a curtain of greenery. I looked down at the various shapes of leaves on the forest floor: scalloped, pine boughs, lacy ferns. I had moved my chair into a private corner area next to the railing that could not be seen by the neighbors. I felt screened from public view, an impossibility in my suburban backyard at home.
A hummingbird darted by very quickly to say hello. It had a gray-green body, with buzzing imperceptible wings.
I picked up my rosary. The pink crystal beads flashed in the light. This is my original rosary from 2003 so the edges of the beads are a little chipped, they are a little worn, from being carried around for sixteen years. It usually sits on my dresser at home, draped over a Waterford cross, on a lace doily in the shape of a star crocheted by my grandmother.
Hail Mary, full of grace
I began the somewhat daunting task of saying this prayer 53 times.
Since it was Sunday, I began to slowly meditate on the Glorious Mysteries: The Resurrection. The Ascension. The Descent of the Holy Spirit. The beads moved through my fingers.
The Fourth Glorious Mystery is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.
I looked down again at the endless green below me, the forest floor carpeted with moss, the fronds of ferns, fragrant pine boughs. The sunlight flickered through the leaves. What if you turned your head suddenly you saw Her? Our Lady, in the middle of the woods, bathed in luminous white light, her hands extended in prayer for the whole world. This has happened: at Lourdes, Fatima, Paris, and in other places. I hold onto this as a real possibility.
The Fifth Glorious Mystery is the Coronation of Mary as the Queen of Heaven. I said the closing prayer out loud. It is such a privilege to utter these words and believe, without question, that Mary is present for us, that she will intercede for us always.
Hail, Holy Queen, Our Life, our sweetness, our hope
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve
To thee do we send up our sighs
Mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most Gracious Advocate
Thine eyes of mercy toward us
And after this, our exile, show unto us the Blessed Fruit of Thy Womb
O Clement, O loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. AMEN.
August 15: What a beautiful feast day to honor Mary, and her Assumption body and soul into Heaven. There is accessible grace available to us at all times with Mary, our Mother, as our Guide. The Sisters pray the rosary every afternoon in the Health Care Center for the specific intentions of the Community. They know very well the kind of life-changing power this sacred prayer carries.
We heard in the homily today that Mary was the first disciple of Jesus. In order for us to emulate Mary's perfect grace and holiness, one of our spiritual tools is mercy. We must show mercy to others. We must always forgive others, as God forgives us. Praying the Divine Mercy chaplet is a wonderful way to re-awaken this vital mercy in our souls: “…so that in difficult moments we might not despair, nor become despondent, but with great confidence, submit ourselves to Your Holy Will, which is love and mercy itself.”
In the Gospel reading of the Magnificat, Mary refers to herself as a “lowly servant.” This is the Mother of God, giving us an example of true humility. Mary always trusted God and consented completely to His Will: “I am a handmaid of the Lord.”
On August 15, much of the world stops to pray to our Blessed Mother, and honor her on the Feast Day of her Assumption into Heaven. Let us pause in our busy daily lives to say the Rosary. Let us honor Mary on this day. Let us pray for her intercession for peace in the world, peace in our hearts and protection of all families.
A special statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary stands in the Monastery courtyard. It was once located in the shady backyard of 301 Summit Avenue at the first Priory, and the Sisters would have their photographs taken next to the statue on special feast days and holidays. Her simple stone expression is humble. She has been with the Sisters through 71 years of joys and sorrows, radiating serene energy and pure loveliness in all seasons. We hope you will visit the Monastery soon to see her.
May the Feast of the Assumption fill your heart with joy and increased reverence for Mary, our Blessed Mother.