Honoring Mary Most Holy During May

May traditionally has been the month we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mother’s Day is always the second Sunday in May. May 13th is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and this year marks the 106th anniversary of the first apparition in 1917. May 31st is also the feast of the Visitation, and parishes all over the country will participate in May crowning ceremonies acknowledging that Mary is the Queen of Heaven and Queen of the Universe

It is fitting that we do so since Mary played the most important role in the history of our salvation as the mother of Jesus. Knowing this, God gave Jesus a perfect, beautiful, sinless model of womanhood and motherhood. As motherhood has been attacked lately and sadly reduced to the banal term “birthing person,” our devotion to Mary is needed now more than ever.

Modern women would also do well to look to Mary for inspiration instead of the usual feminist icons, as it was by becoming a lowly servant that she was genuinely exalted. The Magnificat echoes this great irony:

 My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed.

Mary is also the first disciple and teaches us how to faithfully and lovingly follow Jesus. Through Mary, God became flesh and dwelt among us. Her role cannot be minimized, and her simple but profound “Yes” forever changed human history.

What must it have been like to raise Jesus? How exactly does one guide, teach, and nurture the Savior of the World? What an incredible and frightening responsibility this must have been.  Simeon foretold to Mary at the Presentation that a sword would pierce her heart and she would face many sorrows (Luke 2:35).

What anguish must Mary have felt when Jesus was a newborn, and the family had to flee to Egypt to save his life? What distress must she have felt when Jesus was a baby and cried when cutting his first tooth? What pain did Mary feel when Jesus was little and tumbled down while learning to walk? What suffering must Mary have felt when Jesus was lost for three days in the temple as a boy? What sadness must she have felt when Jesus was no longer with her when he began His public ministry? What agony Mary felt when Jesus was condemned to death, tortured, and crucified? What grief must she have felt when holding Jesus’ lifeless body in her arms and burying him? That is why Mary is often called Our Lady of Sorrows. Any difficulty we are currently facing, she has faced long before us.

Mary, like most mothers, loves children.  Interestingly, Mary often appears exclusively to children, not adults, and trusts these lowly ones to deliver her message of prayer and hope for the world. Mary has made many visitations and apparitions to children worldwide – like Bernadette at Lourdes, France; Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima, Portugal; and Max and Melanie La Salette, France.  

When asked about the apparitions, the children often remarked, without ever knowing Mary’s true identity, that she was the most beautiful woman they had ever seen. Her beauty was far beyond any human being, and she shone like the sun. The beauty that radiated from Mary was her physical appearance and sinless and pure interior beauty. Our culture tries to tell us that beauty is found in the clothes we wear, the products we use, or how we wear our hair. But these outside trappings are not what makes one beautiful. What makes someone beautiful is the kindness, goodness, and purity within one’s heart.

Being the Mother of Jesus is reminiscent of an old poem by Mary Dixon Thayer and made famous by Bishop Fulton Sheen. It’s called:  

Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue 

Lovely Lady dressed in blue
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
Tell me what to say!

Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
Gently on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way
Mother does to me?

Did you hold His hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
O! And did He cry?

Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things-
Little things that happen? And
Do the Angels’ wings

Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now?
Tell me – for you know?

Lovely Lady dressed in blue
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
And you know the way.

Mary does know the way—the way to Jesus. So, if you are ever in need, pray to Mary. You can pray the Rosary, or just a simple Hail Mary will do. Mary will whisper your request into the ear of Jesus and, knowing what a wonderful Son he is, will not say no to His mom. Mary conceived without sin, Jesus’ mother, our intercessor and heavenly mother, pray for us!    

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