It’s spring!!! The days have become warmer, the leaves are budding, and everywhere around us we see evidence of the promise of new life. It is a time for the renewal of nature as well as the time of devotion set aside by the Church to honour our Blessed Mother, Mary. Because Mary said “yes” to God, she became the mother of our Lord. In her own way, by giving birth to Jesus, our Saviour, Mary gave birth to new life for the whole world. She is our Mother, our model, and our example, and it is to her that we turn – as a child does to his mother – to ask for her protection and her powerful intercession. Mary is the way by which we are led to Christ, and when we encounter her, we cannot help but encounter Christ as well.1
The tradition of honouring Mary during the month of May began in the 13th century. By 1700, it had become popular among members of the Jesuit Order. From there, it spread to the whole Church. In his Encyclical letter, The Month of May, Pope Paul VI writes, “The month of May is … a month which the piety of the faithful has long dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. Our heart rejoices at the thought of the moving tribute of faith and love which will soon be paid to the Queen of Heaven in every corner of the earth. For this is the month during which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne.”2
The Church recommends a number of devotions by which we can honour our Blessed Mother during May. Here are a few suggestions:
- Pray the Regina Caeli – The Church offers this antiphon to Mary as we join her in celebrating the Resurrection of her Son. [Click HERE to view Regina Caeli]
- Pray the Rosary – Inspired by the Bible, the Rosary is considered one of the most excellent Marian prayers. In it, we contemplate important events in the life of Christ and His Mother, such as Jesus’ birth, life, death, and Resurrection. For more information on how to pray the Rosary, go to http://www.newadvent.org/images/rosary.pdf.
- Pray the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (The Litany of Loreto) – The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a series of petitions in which we offer praise to Mary and ask her to intercede with God on our behalf. [Click HERE to view Litany of Loreto]
- Consecration to Mary – St. Louis Grignon de Montfort encouraged the faithful to consecrate themselves to Jesus through Mary as a sure and quick path to the heart of Jesus. For more information on the Consecration to Mary, go to http://www.fisheaters.com/totalconsecrationmontfort.html.
- The Brown Scapular (and other Scapulars) – The scapular is worn as a sign of love and devotion for our Blessed Mother Mary. For more information about the devotion and promises attached to the wearing of the Brown Scapular, go to http://www.catholic-church.org/apcarmel/scapular.htm.
- Medals – Medals witness to our faith. They are a sign of our veneration of the Holy Mother of God and the trust that we place in her maternal protection. Below is a picture of the Miraculous Medal, an image that originated in a vision of Mary, who appeared to St. Catherine Labouré in 1830.
- The Akathistos Hymn: The Akathist Hymn is a well-loved devotion in the Orthodox Church. “Akathistos” means “not sitting,” and normally participants stand while it is being prayed. The Akathist Hymn consists of 24 stanzas, each ending with the singing of Alleluia. For more information, click on the following link: Akathistos Hymn.
– Sharon van der Sloot
1 Cf. Pope Paul VI, Mense Maio (The Month of May: Encyclical of Pope Paul VI on Prayers during May for Preservation of Peace), April 29, 1965, 2.
2 Ibid., 1.