A few weeks ago my wife, Maria, my mother, my father, and I traveled to the Atlantic Highlands in NJ to enjoy a great seafood dinner at Bahrs Restaurant. I am a real seafood lover and my mouth was fairly watering as we sat down to our late afteroon meal which featured raw clams on the half-shell, New England clam chowder, and a broiled seafood sampler platter. We had a window table that overlooked Sandy Hook Bay and a marina where small clamming vessels were docked. It was a bit misty and overcast, but that didn’t detract too much from the beautiful view.
After polishing off our desserts, we exited the restaurant and saw Gertrude Ederle Park across the street. This park was dedicated to the first woman who swam across the English Channel in 1926. Gertrude Ederle had been taught to swim by her father in the Atlantic Highlands where her family had a summer home. As a competitive swimmer she won a gold and two bronze medals in the 1924 Olympics in Paris before her historic swim across the channel two years later. Two million people turned out for a ticker tape parade in NYC to honor her for her swimming feat.
We then drove up to the Navesink Twin Lights which are a pair of lighthouses overlooking Sandy Hook Bay, NY Harbor, and the Atlantic Ocean at an elevation of 246 ft. The current lighthouses were built in 1862 to help guide ships navigating the hazardous waters while entering NY Harbor. The view from the twin lights was beautiful and we could see cruise ships many miles away out in the ocean. We enjoyed the panorama for a while until our excursion was cut short by the incoming rains.
I contemplated the twin lights and the role that they played in guiding ships. Jesus is truly the LIGHT who guides us into the port of heaven if we allow Him to guide us. Jesus says of himself, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8: 12) “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1: 4-5) Just as the Twin Lights guide ships into the NY Harbor, so too does Jesus in His twin lights of the Eucharist and Holy Scripture guide us to heaven. Catholics who avail themselves of these twin lights of the Eucharist and Holy Scripture themselves become lights to others to help them reach the port safely. Jesus explains this in the Sermon on the Mount when he says that, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5: 14-16)
In her Autobiography St. Therese described the first time that she saw the sea at age six or seven and witnessed the glow of the setting sun on the waves. She wrote that, “I contemplated this luminous trail for a long time. It was to me the image of God’s grace shedding its light across the path the little white-sailed vessel had to travel. And near Pauline (her older sister), I made the resolution never to wander far away from the glance of Jesus in order to travel peacefully toward the eternal shore!” (Story of A Soul, p. 49) She knew that following the light of God’s path for her would guide her through the stormy seas of this life to the calm shore of heaven.
That evening we drove back to my parent’s house and watched some of the coverage of the Olympics together. I sat in my favorite chair in the corner and smoked the Romeo and Julieta cigar that my Dad had generously bought for me. As both the fun day and the cigar wound down, Maria and I said our goodbyes and drove back to the Keystone State.
Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption in the Catholic Church where we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. On November 1, 1950 Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus declared the following, “by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” (Munificentissimus Deus, par. 44) Happy Solemnity of the Assumption!