May 6, 2007

May: The Month of Mary, Queen of All, Mother of God

I came across this post at SFO Mom Barb's blog this week and was wanting to share it. It touched me deeply. I hope it does you, too. It also inspired me to write my own, speaking on May.

A number of traditions link the month of May to Mary. In ancient Greece, May was the month dedicated to Artemis and the reverence for this goddess was transferred to Mary with the Christianization of Europe.

More generally, pre-Christian rites of spring (fertility rites), such as the Maypole, were subsumed by the Church into a festival of the Mother of God. This sacred holiday is traditionally known as Beltane, and is practiced today in Earth-based spiritualities. It is also the Celtic holiday for the goddess Brid, who was subsumed into the Catholic church as St. Brigid.

Alfonso X, king of Castile wrote in his Cantigas de Santa Maria about the special honoring of Mary during specific dates in May. Eventually, the entire month was filled with special observances and devotions to Mary.

The tradition of honoring Mary in a month-long May devotion is believed to have originated in Italy, but spread eventually around the Roman Catholic world in the 19th Century together with a month-long devotion to Jesus in June and the Rosary in October.

At one time, the domestic celebrations of the month of May were widespread, especially by setting up a small May altar in the home. May crowning became popular in the United States, especially prior to Vatican II. This practice continues in many parishes today.

There are many ways to celebrate Mary's month:
  • Honor the ever-beautiful Virgin with a Rosary, or at least a decade of the Rosary, each day.
  • Perform a May Crowning
  • Read some inspiring poetry on, or about, her.
  • Set up a little Shrine to her outside or inside your house.
  • Love her!
May Crowning: A statue of Mary is laced with a wreath of blossoms to indicate Mary's virtues - which we, as the faithful, are to imitate.

We will take our foot tall indoor Mary statue and perform our own May Crowing. The children will pick flowers from the garden (I have beautiful grape hyacinths and paperwhites up right now, as well as a few tulips, and the lilacs will be in bloom very soon) to keep in a vase next to her statue.

If you are worried about Catholics worshipping statues, please see this excellent article.

If you are worried about Catholics "praying to" saints or Mary, please see this other excellent article.

If you have any other important questions regarding the Catholic faith or my beliefs in general, please drop me a comment and I will reply as soon as possible.

May Magnificat

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.

-- Gerard Manley Hopkins

Some information from Fr Jack, Wikipedia, The Marian Library, and Catholic Answers.

World Breastfeeding Week: August 1 - 7


Alexandra said...

I like your blog. Just stopping by from the Catholic Blogroll. :)

scribbit said...

very informative. I had no idea!

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