When I was a young boy, I always enjoyed the turning of the calendar pages from April to May. It may have been only a signal of the approaching end of the school year and summer vacation looming in the distance. The main event for May, however, was the fact that it was Mary’s month. There was always the festive May Crowning in the church and the procession led by the Children of Mary, the Marian Sodality, and the Junior Holy Name Society. The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis (from Stevens Point, teaching in Chicago) made sure that the classrooms of both the elementary and the high school were festooned with a “regulation” statue of Our Lady of Grace and fresh flowers from a local garden. The daily prayers always included either the Regina Coeli or the Angelus as determined by Easter or Ordinary season. The May Crowning in Church always featured the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary—a major event led by our Pastor (of happy memory) Monsignor Smaza. The high school girls in “Our Lady’s Court” were arrayed in multi-colored (prom) gowns, the younger girls of this or last year’s First Holy Communion class in white dresses and boy’s in blue suits. All the children carried white calla lilies.
It’s funny how so much of the symbolic nature of our rituals and sacramental expressions come to us through “the rear-view mirror” of time. As we enter the month of May, we need to refocus ourselves on some of the life of grace that lies before us. So many elements of Catholic devotional life have been lost by our lack of time or, more pitiable still, our lack of enthusiasm and will. Each time I celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation in our Diocese, I present the newly confirmed with a rosary made by the hands of our children at our mission home in Peru, Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II. I am frustrated that they look bewildered or indifferent when I tell them of the beauty of the rosary as a prayerful communication with our Mother. The rosary is part of our Catholic DNA—and should be renewed.
I believe that prayers and devotions such as the rosary need to come back into prominence in the spiritual lives of Catholics. I often introduce the gift of the rosary to the young people by reminding them that the rosary is not jewelry for the dead or a pop culture accessory. May could be a good time to help emphasize that point in your home by praying the rosary together at least once during Mary’s Month.
Another very significant consideration is the daily recitation of the Morning Offering—the first prayer we offer when we wake up at the beginning of the day. Morning prayers and night prayers seem to many of us, old fashioned or out of step with our hurried lifestyles. Again, Mary’s Month may be a time to reignite some of those forgotten habits.
Praying to Jesus through Mary reminds each of us of the love that God has for His Mother and the joy it can bring us to love Her, too. Pope St. John Paul the Great dedicated himself and his entire papal ministry to Jesus through Mary—“Totus Tuus”—or “totally yours.” His life of service in the Church and the great example and spiritual creativity he gave as pope captivated the minds and hearts of many people—especially the young. Hopefully that example will not be lost as we grow older and search newer trends and social developments.
Mary has a special place in the life and heart of the Church. Jesus gave Her to us through St. John as He was dying on the Cross. Mother Mary is for us a gift from Jesus as He founded the Church from the Cross—“Behold Your Mother!”