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May: Mary's Month

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Apr. 30, 2012

For centuries the Church has celebrated month-long devotions to the Blessed Mother.  Various regions and localities chose unique methods and timing for these celebrations, not to mention the widely varied devotions.  How and why May came to be the common standard might stem from pagan rituals that tended to celebrate goddesses of the springtime, of fruitfulness, of flowers.  Our Lady could easily carry the mantle of being one to celebrate for birth, maternity, blossoming.

In May-time the sun rises.  In Mary the Son quickens and is spawn.  In May the winter is stomped out and new life springs forth.  In Mary the God-Man who described Himself as “the Life,” issues eternal.  In May a bleak world whose fields look barren and forsaken teem with a hidden richness that seems deep from within, a richness that emerges and reaches for the Heavens.  In Mary, a virgin womb cultivates a divine seed whose sprout and stock will not only reach Heaven, but bridge two seemingly incompatible worlds into one.

May is Mary’s month.  During this month, I encourage you to investigate ways to foster your devotion to the Mother of God, from a special Rosary novena, to meditations, to spiritual reading, to increased offerings.  As you begin your search, I offer to you two writings that continue to foster great Marian devotion in my own prayer life:

A writing of St. Maximilian Kolbe:

“The Immaculata appears in this world, without the least stain of sin, the masterpiece of God’s hands, full of grace. God, the Most Holy Trinity, beholds the lowliness (i.e. the humility, the root of all her other virtues) of his handmaid, and ‘does great things for her, he the Almighty’ (Lk. 1:49). God the Father gives her his own Son to be her Son; God the Son descends into her womb; and God the Holy Spirit forms the body of Christ in the womb of this most pure virgin. ‘And the Word was made flesh’ (Jn. 1:14). The Immaculata becomes the Mother of God. The fruit of the love of God in his trinitarian life and of Mary the Immaculata, is Christ, the God-Man…Henceforth all the other sons of God must be modeled after this first Son of God, the Man-God, the infinite One. They must reproduce his traits; by imitating Christ souls reach sanctity…This is the union brought about by the spousal love of the soul for Christ, through its resemblance to him, and by God’s action. BUT IF ANYONE DOES NOT WISH TO HAVE MARY IMMACULATE FOR HIS MOTHER, HE WILL NOT HAVE CHRIST FOR HIS BROTHER…SINCE THE FIRST-BORN SON, THE GOD-MAN WAS CONCEIVED ONLY WITH THE SPECIFIC CONSENT OF THE MOST BLESSED VIRGIN, THE SAME MUST HOLD TRUE FOR ALL MEN, WHO MUST BE CONFORMED TO THEIR FIRST MODEL IN ALL THINGS.”

The May Magnificat; by Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ:

May is Mary’s month, and I 
Muse at that and wonder why: 
Her feasts follow reason, 
Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day; 
But the Lady Month, May, 
Why fasten that upon her, 
With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter 
Than the most are must delight her? 
Is it opportunest 
And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother: 
Her reply puts this other 
Question: What is Spring?— 
Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather, 
Grass and greenworld all together; 
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted 
Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin 
Forms and warms the life within; 
And bird and blossom swell 
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing 
Mary sees, sympathising 
With that world of good, 
Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind 
With delight calls to mind 
How she did in her stored 
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this: 
Spring’s universal bliss 
Much, had much to say 
To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple 
Bloom lights the orchard-apple 
And thicket and thorp are merry 
With silver-surfed cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes 
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes 
And magic cuckoocall 
Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth 
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth 
To remember and exultation 
In God who was her salvation.