The month of May is here. That means spring is in full blossom with flowers, green lawns, graduations… and for Catholics it means it’s the month of Mary.
For us, May is a special month in which we honor Mary with prayers, hymns and increased pious devotions. The students at Holy Name School, for instance, participated recently in a traditional May festivity by placing a crown of flowers on a statue of “Our Lady” — an act known as the May Crowning.
The flowers and all the other life springing up around us in this month remind us of Mary’s beautiful virtue and of the fact that she brought forth into the world the source of all life, Our Lord Jesus Christ.
But why do Catholics show Mary our love and devotion in the first place? The simple answer is twofold: because she is our mother and because she leads us closer to Jesus.
When Our Lord was hanging on the cross in his great act of redemptive love for us, he gave us not only his life, but he even gave us his own mother to be our mother too. We read in the Gospel of John, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother’” (Jn 19: 26-27).
Our devotion to Mary with prayers and external gestures like the May Crowning puts us into a relationship with our spiritual mother. We, of course, do not worship her as a goddess; only God receives our worship and adoration. But we give her from our hearts the affection of loving, devoted children. What son or daughter wouldn’t love with great affection a mother who has been loving toward them?
In the words of St. Maximilian Kolbe, “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin Mary too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”
So we give Mary our devotion as sons and daughters and we receive from her a mother’s care. Like a good mother, she nourishes us — with graces obtained in prayer to her Son, the source of all graces. Like a good mother, she teaches us — by her virtuous example, especially by her wholehearted “yes” to the will of God. Like a good mother, she consoles us in our suffering — as she did for her Son on his way to Calvary.
We often ask others to pray for us. “Hey, my dad is sick. Will you say a prayer for him?”
With Mary as both our mother and Jesus’ mother, we ask her to pray to him for us too. By her prayers and example, then, the humble Virgin Mary always leads us closer to Jesus.
Thus, we confidently and lovingly ask Mary at the end of our traditional prayer, the Hail Mary, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Fr. Robert Rodgers is the associate pastor at Holy Name Catholic Church.