May is Mary’s Month

Catholic Standard photo/Michael Hoyt: A mosaic at the Church of the Annunciation in Washington, DC depicts the Holy Family.

During the month of May, we celebrate many Catholic traditions and customs. May processions, the recitation of the rosary, Marian sodality celebrations and seeking the intercession of Mary on Mother’s Day are all part of parish life. Also during May, we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin (May 31). In your family, you may even plant a Mary garden. The tradition of linking Mary and the month of May dates back to medieval times.

Throughout Christian history, devotion to Mary represents and manifests the Christian recognition of the intimacy of the bond between Mary and her son Jesus and her unique and determining role in the unfolding of God’s plan. We Catholics do not worship Mary, but we truly venerate her because she is Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church and our mother.

Gardens in full bloom in the month of May can remind us of the new creation of the world that came through Mary. Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38), sets the stage for all the events that will follow: Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension; the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; the establishment of his Church; and the ongoing work of redemption in which you and I are caught up today by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Mary’s trust in God, her “yes” to following God’s will, is something all of us should emulate.

As the new creation began to take form and as the beginnings of the kingdom of God began to be manifested in a way that would endure century after century, Mary was present. As Blessed John Paul II, in Redemptoris Mater points out, “We see her in the midst of the Apostles in the Upper Room,’prayerfully imploring the gift of the Spirit’” (LG, 8). And he notes that, “at the first dawn of the Church, at the beginning of the long journey through faith which began at Pentecost in Jerusalem, Mary was with all of those who were the seed of the ‘new Israel’” (27.1).

As a mother, Mary brought Christ to the world. As our spiritual mother, she leads us to Jesus. And as the mother of the New Evangelization, she helps us as we lead others to know and love her Son.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God because Jesus is God with us. Mary, the Mother of God, is also our mother because we are caught up through the power of the Holy Spirit in adopted sonship with God. She is Mother of the Church, to whom we turn in intercession in asking to become more closely identified with her son – God’s Son – Our Lord and Savior.

This month can be an ideal time to reflect again on Blessed John Paul’s encyclical letter Redemptoris Mater and join the pope in wonder at the  mystery of a God who so loves us that he sent his Son to us so that we might share in his divine life. “At the center of this mystery, in the midst of this wonderment of faith stands Mary” (Redemptoris Mater, 15).

In a special way, every day is Mother’s Day when we turn to Mary and deepen our love for Christ. Mary, who held baby Jesus in the manger and who prayed for him at the foot of the cross, shows us the way to her Son.