You will not be surprised, given my girth, that I enjoy conversations with good cooks. While I’m hardly a chef myself—I can make a cup of tea or a piece of toast—I sure enjoy the bounty of a chef’s work, and have since my own mom’s wonderful kitchen.
Good cooks tell me that August is their favorite time, because it’s the fullness of the harvest. My own great cook, Antoine, who takes care of the meals for the four of us who live at the archbishop’s house, and our many guests and events, rejoices during the height of summer when tomatoes, corn, green beans, peppers, spices, and melons abound.
The fullness of the harvest, when the lifegiving purpose of the earth is so evident. As Pope Francis eloquently pointed out in Laudato Si’, his encyclical on the environment, when we treat the earth with tenderness, care, and respect, she returns the favor, for God made the earth to bring and sustain life.
Thus the glorious feast we celebrate at the “height of the height” of summer each year, Our Lady’s Assumption. Each Aug. 15 we reverently recall God’s intention for His creation and His creatures: fullness of life. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and our own blessed Mother, is God’s “exhibit A” of His intention for all of us: eternal life, body and soul, united with Him in heaven.
Everlasting life, the “fullness” Jesus told us He came to bring us, is the ultimate harvest.
A country pastor once told me that, when he looks out on his parish cemetery, he pictures a freshly seeded field waiting for harvest. The “seeds” are the bodies of the faithful buried there, awaiting the cosmic harvest of the resurrection of the dead. Not a bad image!
Jesus precedes us; by the might of His dying and rising, His mother is already past, body and soul, of that summer abundance we all anticipate with faith.
No wonder we celebrate her Assumption (Aug. 15), and her Queenship (Aug. 22) these days of abundance. No surprise, the Irish celebrate Our Lady of Knock (Aug. 21) and the Poles Our Lady of Czestochowa (Aug. 26) these happy days. Europe closes down those days of Ferragosto surrounding Aug. 15, to savor nature at its height: the sun, the long days, the abundance of the fields, the flowers and food.
Mary, assumed into heaven body and soul; Mary, our Queen, reminds us of supernature at its height, the fullness of life the Father intends for us in eternity.