May – The Month of Mary
For many centuries, the Catholic Church has set aside the entire month of May to honour Mary, Mother of God. Not just one day in May, but the entire month. The custom of focusing on Mary in a special way during May spans many cultures around the world, and can easily be called globally ancient. The month of May has been important since before Christianity began – both ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated the pagan gods of blossoms and fruitfulness or fertility – Flora and Artemis. May is springtime, when new growth is clear all around us in nature. Many western cultures have come to associate May as a month of life and motherhood.
The Church has kept an entire month dedicated to Mary since at least medieval times (August was the choice early on), but it wasn’t the month of May commonly until the 1700’s.
The Raccolta, a handbook of Catholic prayers from the mid-1800’s, describes May this way:
“It is a well-known devotion, to consecrate to most holy Mary the month of May, as the most beautiful and florescent month of the whole year. This devotion has long prevailed throughout Christendom.”
The ways Mary is honoured in May is as varied as the people who honour her. It’s common for parishes to have a daily recitation of the Rosary during May. Also, it’s a long-standing tradition to crown a statue of Mary during May in the parish. Often, the crown is made of beautiful blossoms representing Mary’s beauty and virtue.
During May, at church and at home, remember Mary in a special way often. Notice and visit Mary in here in our parish churches. Our crowned statues are in the grotto inside the church, and in the garden courtyard of Our Lady of the Assumption. Mary’s crowning was beautifully celebrated May 1.
Saint Bernard says:
“In danger, in anguish…call on Mary. May she never be far from your lips, from your heart…If you follow her, you cannot go astray;
if you pray to her, you cannot despair; if you think of her, you cannot be mistaken. If she sustains you, you cannot fall; if she protects you, you have nothing to fear; if she guides you, do not tire.”