The Solemnity of the Assumption (Aug. 15) celebrates the Immaculate Mother of God being taken up body and soul to heaven. The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Aug. 22) memorializes Mary as our royal and heavenly queen due to her entire life lived in perfect union with God.
August also features the memorials of St. Dominic (Aug. 8), who preached widely about the Rosary; St. Maximilian Kolbe (Aug. 14), who founded the Immaculata Movement in Poland, and St. Stephen (Aug. 16), who placed Hungary under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the early 11th century.
Why does the Church offer such a feast of Marian devotion? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Mary personifies “obedience” and the “purest realization” of faith in God, most notably at the Annunciation (CCC, 148-149). But it seems to me that a Catholic man can also explain the answer by affirming how particular women said “yes” to him at some key moments in his life.
First, consider mothers, who stand alone in their ability to make men, literally, by saying “yes” to life. They show how our bodies – at their tiniest, most helpless stages – bear unspeakable beauty within the womb and afterward thanks to her hard labor. In molding us over the years, moms teach us to act in charity and discover dignity in others. It is no wonder that our mothers, even many years after they’re gone, set standards by which Catholic men measure all other women.
Many Catholic men do find such women, of course, who say “yes” to the bold proposal of spending married life together. Wives shine Marian radiance into the lives of Catholic men by helping them achieve their fullest potential. No longer alone, a husband discovers “his equal, his nearest in all things” that God has placed in his life to help hold him accountable (CCC, 1605). Marriage between one man and one woman forms a sacramental bond where “Christ dwells with them, gives them strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens” and “to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love” (CCC, 1642).
The greatest fruit produced from the bond of married love is a child, marking also the birth a father from a man. Daughters, similar to sons, hold their father’s finger at their birth. But daughters hold a special place in their father’s heart for life. Daughters call upon the finest forms offered by masculinity – provider, protector, proponent, and preview of what she wants in her future husband. A dad weeps on his daughter’s wedding day not because his girl has blossomed into a wonderful woman, suggesting one of life’s sunrises. He sheds a tear because his grown daughter sees in her groom a part of him that a little voice once affirmed would be his alone, a happy memory previewing the sunset of his own life.
Catholic men focus on Mary because doing so takes them to her and, consequently, to her Son. Their hearts of faith flow knowing that precisely because Mary said “yes” at the Annunciation, they may find the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven clothed with sunlight and crowned with stars after natural death (cf. Rev 12:1). Their hearts hope for a moment when mother, wife and daughter arrive with him into their true, eternal homeland. And they pray to see the face of God forever because Our Lady says “yes” on their behalf.
Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas. You can find him on Facebook here.