May is upon us! Which means Catholics everywhere are “doing something extra” for their blessed mother in Heaven.
For example, a friend of mine had her prep class commemorate May by presenting flowers to our Lady. You can imagine the exchange:
“Whose mum likes flowers?” Twenty hands go up.
“Can you think of any other mothers who might like flowers?” Then a knowing glance at a nearby image of Mary.
Twenty hands go up again. “Jesus’ mum! She’d like flowers!”
So the preps — and the rest of the school too, I think — celebrated the Feast of St Philip, their patronal feast day, with a Marian procession and presentation of flowers.
It’s not a bad way to celebrate the feast, given the gospel of the day relates the way to the Father.
The way to the Father, of course, is Jesus. And to paraphrase St Louis de Montfort, “the fastest way to Jesus is through Mary — the same way he came to us.”
Jesus is the whole point of Marian devotions. “To Jesus through Mary,” as so many of the saints have put it.
I think displays of affection towards the mother of Jesus “humanise” our faith. They remind us that our faith is not informed by a noble idea, but by a relationship. At an individual level, Christian faith rests on a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, and Marian devotions help us to keep that encounter natural and proximate.
A Marian Resolution for May
Formulating a May resolution is a bit like formulating a Lenten resolution — or come to that, a New Year’s resolution! It’s a personal matter, it probably shouldn’t draw too much attention, and hopefully it is accomplished!
In general, I think it pays to think “small and daily.” Pausing at noon each day to pray the Angelus (or the Regina Caeli during the Easter season) is a good way to commemorate May.
Or, if you’re already in the habit of praying the Angelus, you could commemorate May by adding another short Marian prayer somewhere in your day. There’s lots to choose from: the Salve Regina for example, or the Magnificat, or the Memorare.
This is a very simple way to commemorate the month of Mary, but I think it’s a good one. It’s easy to imagine a small resolution like this pleasing our Lady — just as those flowers from the grade preps must have pleased her.
Nonetheless, our Holy Father in Rome has much greater ambitions for us, and why shouldn’t he? (Fathers are typically more demanding of their children.) When he addressed the crowd in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday — the first day of May and the Feast of St Joseph the Worker — Pope Francis asked us to commemorate May by praying the rosary:
In this month of May, I would like to recall the importance and the beauty of the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Reciting the Hail Mary, we are led to contemplate the mysteries of Jesus, to reflect, that is, on the central moments of his life, so that, as for Mary and for St. Joseph, he may be the center of our thoughts, our attention and our actions.
It would be nice if, especially in this month of May, you would pray together as a family, with your friends, in the parish, the Holy Rosary or some prayer to Jesus and the Virgin Mary! Praying together is a precious moment for making family life and friendship even more stable! Let us learn to pray more in the family and as a family!
Praying a family rosary is a great idea. Praying a rosary with a friend is a bit more challenging to organise. But the idea of a short pilgrimage lends itself. Choose two churches a twenty-minute walk apart, arrange with a friend to meet at the Marian shrine in one church, and walk together to the other while reciting the rosary. Good for the soul and good for the body!