The Octave of the Assumption, which we are celebrating now, culminates on Saturday with the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It’s beautiful that the Church honors our Mother’s glory by venerating especially her Heart. This veneration is the reason why August is traditionally called the Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This feast of Mary’s Heart is the octave feast of the feast of her Assumption into Heaven, which means the two feasts are connected in the logic of the Sacred Liturgy.
The truth of Mary’s Assumption means that her physical Heart is in Heaven, glorified in its resurrection and ascension in her Son. Mary is the first to share in her Son’s Resurrection and Ascension. She followed where He went first. Her Heart, which was always in Heaven by faith, hope, and love, is now in Heaven by glory. As we saw last week, she had first suffered and died with Him in her Heart. We celebrate on August 22 that she has also risen with Him!
Each Christian is invited by grace to this same sharing in Jesus’s Resurrection and Ascension. We are all called and empowered to live, like Mary, with our hearts already in Heaven by faith, hope, and charity, so that they can one day be in Heaven in glory. This is the key to happiness even in this life: to have our treasures and hearts already in the Heavenly happiness that never passes away. We are called by Jesus to live like Mary, suffering and dying with Him so as to rise with Him.
The easiest and most accessible way for us to keep our hearts in Heaven, and thus achieve real happiness, is by the life of prayer, which exercises the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. This is one of the reasons why daily time of prayer is a duty for all Christians. Daily prayer is ordinarily necessary for salvation. It is the way I keep my heart locked in to my eternal happiness so that I don’t deviate by sin from the good path. In my daily prayer, I meditate on divine things and ask for the help I need to be saved. Prayer, along with the sacraments, is the way for me to follow Jesus and Mary.
The Holy Rosary is a most excellent way to exercise our duty and privilege of prayer. If I pray the Rosary with devout meditation on the mysteries, I have entered into the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who “kept these things in her Heart.” In this way, the Rosary is the best and easiest way for me to keep my heart in Heaven, in the glorious abode of Mary’s Heart.
This time of the octave of the Assumption is an excellent opportunity to commit ourselves to the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary. One could, for example, pray five decades of the Rosary upon rising, another five decades on his lunch break or during afternoon naps for the kids, and then another five decades with the whole family at the end of the day. Let this be a kind of back-to-school resolution for us all. If we pray this way, with devotion and attention and love, we will be saints in no time! Immaculate Heart of Mary, Cause of Our Joy, pray for us!
Fr. Joseph Previtali