May Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Catholics have for centuries kept special devotions for our Mother Mary during the month of May, both in public gatherings and in their own homes.
With our household under quarantine, this is the perfect time to bring these beautiful traditions back to our homes. Pope Paul VI, in his 1965 encyclical on the Month of May devotion urged the faithful to make use of this practice which is “gladdening and consoling” — sounds like just what we need now!
THERE ARE ANY NUMBER OF WAYS TO CELEBRATE MARY THIS MONTH — HERE ARE JUST A FEW:
May Altar — We can honor Mary as the Mother of the Church in our homes — the domestic churches. Maybe you already have a prayer corner that could include a special place for Mary during May. You can honor Mary with a May altar easily with things you may already have at home.
Image of the Blessed Mother: Usually a statue of Mary is used, but if you don’t have a statue, a holy card or picture card will do or check your nativity set for a Mary figurine.
Candle: any size or number of candles is fine.
Flowers: a bouquet, or a vase to add flowering branches or blooms from your yard as they start to blossom this month.
This special altar is a visual reminder of Mary’s loving and maternal presence in our lives. Praying before it we can, in the words of Pope Paul VI “let our petitions fly to Our Lady — especially for the needs of the Church and the whole human race — that must urgently require our Blessed Mother’s intercession.”
The Most Holy Rosary — Outside of Mass there is no other prayer more pleasing to our Mother than the Rosary. St. John Paul II in his document on the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary insisted, pleaded that the whole world pray the Holy Rosary for the salvation of the family and for world peace.
On May 13th, we celebrate Our Lady of Fatima who appeared six times to the Shepherd children — Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, insisting upon the praying of the most Holy Rosary. Let us also be obedient children and pray our Mother’s requested prayer.
May Crowning — Many Catholic churches and families hold a “May Crowning,” presenting Mary with a crown made of blossoms or other handcrafted materials to signify her Queenship as the Mother of Christ, the King. You can make a simple crown with ribbon and silk flowers. Sometimes there is a procession with the crown and special hymns can be sung. Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above for example.
Make a Mary Garden — Having a Mary Garden can provide a quiet place for reflection. Maybe it can be a witness to a neighbor to spark a faithfilled conversation. Usually there is a statue or image of Mary at the center if possible. You can include stepping stones or rocks and of course flowers! There are even flowers that signify Mary that you may want to include, i.e. lilies.
Imitate Mary — If we truly love somebody, then we want to get to know them better, follow them more closely and finally imitate their good qualities that we call virtues. St. Louis de Montfort in his classic True Devotion to Mary gives us a list of the ten principal virtues of Mary to imitate: Her deep humility, Her Lively faith, Her blind obedience, Her unceasing prayer, Her constant self-denial, Her surpassing purity, Her ardent love, Her heroic patience, Her angelic kindness, and Her heavenly wisdom!
St. Louis teaches us: “The greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them.”
LEARN OR PRAY A NEW MARIAN DEVOTION (there are a lot of them!) TRY ONE OF THESE:
Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven) — this prayer is prayed during the Easter season, traditionally at noon. Why not pray it three times a day — at 9:00 am, 12 noon, and 6:00 pm to sanctify the morning, afternoon, and evening hours through the holy and sweet presence of Mary.
Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary invokes the many beautiful names of our loving intercessor.
During May entrust a special intention to the Blessed Mother with one of these three Novenas to the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
Novena prayers to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Glorious Virgin Mary, I long to love your Son, Jesus the way he deserved to be loved — with the love of your Immaculate Heart. Unite me to your Immaculate Heart so that I will be open to receive your Son with the same dispositions by which you received him. Your Immaculate Heart is supremely gentle, steadfast, watchful — completely given over to the will of God. Lead me out of the darkness of ignorance, free me from all selfishness and willful self-assertion, and train me in conformity with your Immaculate Heart. Let me always trust your Immaculate Heart as a true source of grace and mercy. In sharing in the Passion of your Son, your Immaculate Heart was pierced. May your immaculate love embrace me in moments of suffering. I beg to make reparation for all offenses against your Immaculate Heart as I offer you my intentions (mention your request). Amen
O Most Blessed Mother, Heart of Love, Heart of Mercy, ever listening, caring consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus, your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially .. (mention your special intentions). We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever. Amen