It is a centuries-old custom of Catholics to dedicate the month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The month of May is always part of the Easter season, the fifty days we celebrate in the liturgy the Resurrection of Our Lord, a time also of awaiting the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The celebration of May as a Marian month fits well with the liturgical celebrations of Easter and Pentecost as we recall Mary’s great joy in her Son’s victory over death as well as her presence with the apostles in the upper room prayerfully awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
In this Year of Faith, it is good to consider the faith of Mary. At the Visitation, Elizabeth said to Mary: Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. When we think of our Blessed Mother, we recognize that she is indeed blessed, not only because she was the Mother of Jesus, but because she believed in the Lord’s words. She believed with all her heart and said “yes” to become the Mother of the Messiah and Son of God. She allowed herself to be led by God’s grace throughout her life, a life rooted in a deep faith in God. She became her Son’s first and most perfect disciple.
In our pilgrimage of faith, we walk always with Mary at our side. She is our model of faith and she helps us with her prayers to live by faith. She teaches us to believe as she believed.
During this month of May, we pay special honor to our Blessed Mother. In 1965, Pope Paul VI wrote a short encyclical on the month of May. He wrote that May is an occasion for a “moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world pay to the Queen of Heaven. During this month Christians, both in church and in the privacy of the home, offer up to Mary from their hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration. In this month, too, the benefits of God’s mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance.”
I recommend the observance of May as a Marian month. Many churches and schools have celebrations of the crowning of images of Our Lady. This is a beautiful custom that expresses our love for the Mother of God as our Queen. Other Marian devotions are particularly fitting in the month of May. Of course, the holy rosary is always a wonderful prayer to enter more deeply into the mysteries of Christ’s life with Mary. It is a Gospel prayer.
All honor that we give to Mary is ordered to, and leads to, the adoration of God. Devotion to Mary fosters within us a faithful adherence to her Son. When we crown images of Mary, we are honoring her. In honoring Mary, we are ultimately praising God for the grace He bestowed on her.
We all probably have our favorite images of Mary as well as our favorite devotions: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of Perpetual Help, the Miraculous Medal, etc. The many images and devotions express various aspects of Our Lady’s vocation and mission. They help us to know the virtues of Mary and remind us to turn to her for her intercession.
I invite you to pray with Mary during this Marian month. Let us especially commend to her our prayers for life, marriage, and religious liberty. Let us all place ourselves in the school of Mary to learn from her how to love God more fervently and to love one another as her Son has loved us.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for us and draw us closer to Christ her Son!
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