Month of May, month of Mary

By Marge Fenelon at the National Catholic Register:

Guillaume Perrier (1600-1656), “La remise du rosaire”

It’s here.

May, the month in which the earth springs into bloom (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) and we start thinking about planting gardens, family picnics, and making vacation plans.

It’s also the Month of Mary.

Having gone to a Catholic grade school run by the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, my early childhood memories include honoring Mary during May – a practice I’ve continued all of my life and taught my children to do as well. It’s as natural and essential to me as my morning coffee (only far, far more joy-filled if you can even imagine that).

I know a number of Catholics who see May as the Month of Mary, and we all get the same question from time to time:

Why is May Mary’s month?

Here’s a brief explanation.

For centuries, the Catholic Church has set aside the entire month of Mary to honor Mary, Mother of God. Not just a day in May, mind you, but the entire month.

The custom spans both centuries and cultures, with roots going back as far as the Ancient Greeks. In early Greece, May was dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of fecundity.

In Ancient Rome, May was dedicated to Flora, the goddess of blooms, or blossoms. They celebrated ludi florals, or floral games, at the end of April and asked the intercession of Flora for all that blooms.

In medieval times, similar customs abounded, all centering around the practice of expelling winter, as May 1 was considered the start of new growth.

During this period, the tradition of Tricesimum, or “Thirty-Day Devotion to Mary,” came into being. Also called, “Lady Month,” the event was held from August 15-September 14 and is still observed in some areas.

The idea of a month dedicated specifically to Mary can be traced back to baroque times. Although it wasn’t always held during May, Mary Month included thirty daily spiritual exercises honoring Mary.

It was in this era that Mary’s Month and May were combined, making May the Month of Mary with special devotions organized on each day throughout the month. This custom became especially widespread during the nineteenth century and remains in practice until today.

The ways Mary is honored in May is as varied as the people who honor her.

It’s common for parishes have a daily recitation of the Rosary during May, and many erect a special May altar with a statue or picture of Mary as a reminder of Mary’s month. Additionally, it’s a long-standing tradition to crown the statue of Mary during May – a custom known as May Crowning. Often, the crown is made of beautiful blossoms representing Mary’s beauty and virtue. It’s also a reminder to the faithful to strive to imitate our Blessed Mother’s virtue in our own lives. May Crowning, in some areas, is a huge celebration and is usually done outside of Mass, although Mass may be celebrated before or after the actual crowning.

But May altars and crownings aren’t just “church” things. We can and should be doing the same in our homes. When we echo the customs and traditions of the Church in our homes – our domestic churches – we participate more fully in the life of the Church.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to erect a prayer corner in your home. No matter how fancy or simple it is. The main point is that it’s a place designated for God, and more specifically, for spending time with him. Just as you need proper atmosphere to sleep, you also need proper atmosphere to pray.

For May, give Mary a special spot in your prayer corner. It can be a statue or picture, but place there some representation of our Blessed Mother. Make it appealing and a real tribute to her beauty and virtue.

Then, crown Mary. You can give her an actual or spiritual crown and you can make it a subtle gesture or ornate ceremony of your own device. The meaning is far more important than the action. You can do it in the beginning, at the end of May or anywhere in between.

Just do it.

Why?

Not because it’s a long-standing tradition in the Church, although it is. Not because there are any special graces connected to it, although there is.

No, do it because Mary is Mother – your mother, my mother, everyone’s mother – and because she cares for all of us day-in-and-day-out without fail, interceding for us in even the tiniest matters.

For that, she deserves an entire month in her honor.

 

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5 Responses to Month of May, month of Mary

  1. toadspittle says:

    Another tradition with pagan roots. Nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s how most customs evolve.The author has neglected to mention the ancient ceremony of dancing round the Maypole – an upstanding phallic symbol – to ensure fertility.

  2. Robert says:

    Pagan roots? Wrong way round its the pagans Gods (demonic as demonstrated by St Augustine) that tried to blot out the Virgin.
    The Mazzaroth is as old as man,
    The Virgin has always been in the Mazaroth
    The Virgin was first not the pagan Godesses..

    Its simply Original Sin and the woman (Immaculate Conception) as revealed to Adam and Eve who would crush the serpents Head.

    The Church here is acting in accord with the Holy Ghost (Our Lady is Spouse of the Holy Ghost). These wretched Catholics who deny the Divine Revelation. Christ restores all things including Mary’s Month which the demon had perverted to His own pagan worship!

    Attack Mary and you are denying the Trinity!! Calling the Trinity a lier. May is Mary’s month the Church teaches this infallible!

  3. toadspittle says:

    Who’s attacking Mary? I didn’t even mention her.
    “The Virgin was first not the pagan Godesses..”
    Nobody suggested she was

  4. Robert says:

    Toad
    “..Another tradition with pagan roots. Nothing wrong with that, of course. It’s how most customs evolve.The author has neglected to mention the ancient ceremony of dancing round the Maypole – an upstanding phallic symbol – to ensure fertility ..”

    In New Scientist “Nicolas Baurnard Evolutionary psychologist at the Ecole Normale Superierure in Paris” “Before Christianity, most religions did not place a high value on morality” His argument is the decline of moralising religion because of affluence “.. if this is true, and out environment continues to improve, then like the Greco-Roman religions before them , Christianity and other moralising religions could eventually vanish”
    In other words materialism and naturalism against the myth of God!

    So Toad getting back to your comment. You are just going along with the falsity of Evolution that denies that the Faith, the Fall and the Virgin were there at the very beginning of Creation.

    The Maypole? Its what comes out of a man. The carnality of his thoughts Toad. But beastility and freedom without morality (SIN) well that’s the broad Road to Hell. Now in Heaven there is NO SIN and guess what Fire is used to purge and make reparation for SIN (Purgatory).

  5. toadspittle says:

    “So Toad getting back to your comment. You are just going along with the falsity of Evolution that denies that the Faith, the Fall and the Virgin were there at the very beginning of Creation.”
    Evolution neither asserts nor denies anything, Robret. It is a process, not a person. It has nothing to say about Faith, Falls, or Virgins.
    Many believers in evolution deny those things, no doubt. I don’t know, myself.
    Nor do you, really.

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