My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Many families have already taken their summer vacation; however, the last two weeks of August seem to be the time when most families take their annual vacation. Families do need vacations; they need a change of scene and hopefully, they find the time to take their vacations together. This is so important, especially for families with minor children, that the family has an opportunity at least once a year to be close together as a family and to be able to do some of the relaxing things that families should do together. Unfortunately, the pace of life today does have its ill effects on family life; most probably the ability to have a meal together each day. Breakfast is on the run, lunch is at school or work and dinner, unfortunately, seldom gathers the entire family together for a variety of reasons. Vacation time can be a good time when families can reconnect and understand their responsibilities to each other, and then reassert their bonds for one another.
Vacation usually takes us to different places and different communities. This is especially true when it comes to our attendance at Sunday Mass. Sometimes the temptation is to take a vacation also from Mass during the summer months. However, vacation is also a great opportunity to experience new venues and new communities who might celebrate the Eucharist in different ways. The old saying, “The family that prays together stays together” is important to remember, especially when the example of attending Mass is followed. It is unfortunate today that instead of showing a good example to their children, adults show a contrary example when they do not accompany their children to Mass and when they seldom worship together. Vacation time gives an opportunity for change and renewal.
I would like to share a vacation story from last year when I was able to visit my brother and his family. My brother and sister-in-law now have 10 grandchildren ages five months to 15 years. When we see them all together, we see a new generation growing in our family. Recently, two of the grandchildren from two different families received their First Communion within weeks of one another. While I was not able to attend either one, I was able to have a celebration with both of them where the whole family gathered together to celebrate a more solemn family Communion. Last summer, I was with them on August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption, when they all gathered together at the Jersey shore where I was able to celebrate Mass for them on the feast day. I will always remember the faces of the smallest children who gathered around the Altar table with extreme inquisitiveness and almost unfailing gaze. This helped me realize that most children really are not that close to the Altar and do not see what a priest does. It was a wonderful experience for me to see their faces and their involvement in the celebration of the Eucharist.
The Feast of the Assumption in mid-summer reminds us that Mary was assumed into Heaven, body and soul. In a certain sense, it was her resurrection and ascension as the Church has taught as dogma that because of Mary’s Immaculate Conception no stain of sin touched her, nor the consequences of sin. Therefore, as the Church has always taught, Mary was assumed bodily into Heaven. She continues to make intercession for us, we who are her children. Mary recognizes that we always need her as our mother and intercessor before the throne of God. Mary’s Assumption is the second pledge, after the Resurrection of Jesus Himself, of our own bodily resurrection someday. We recite this every Sunday in the Creed, however, do we know what it means? Some day in the future, the bodily resurrection of those who have died will occur, when Christ becomes all-in-all, when He brings everything back together again.
During the summer months, we all put out into the deep longing for leisure, rest and, hopefully, for an opportunity to deepen our spiritual relationship with God because we are rested and do have some time to dedicate to reading and prayer. Join me in praying for the people of our Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens that this summer has been and will be an opportunity of renewal, especially a renewal in our faith and in the Lord.