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May is the month of Mary

FATHER CHRISTOPHER LIGUORI writes that Catholics rightly honor Mary during May . . .

Fr. Christopher Liguori

Fr. Christopher Liguori

by Fr. Christopher Liguori

Isn’t it beautiful that we have a Mother in heaven who loves us, intercedes for us, treats each one of us as a cherished child, and always leads us to her Son?

Holy Church sets aside the entire month of May as Mary’s month. Traditionally during this month, statues of Mary are crowned with flowers. The new blooms on the trees, the evolving spring flowers, the song of birds, and the great surge of life within nature all speak to us of Mary, whose beauty is reflected deeply within it.

There are many beautiful Catholic traditions, such as building May altars, having May processions in honor of Our Lady, and crowning Our Lady as our queen. For some, these may just be memories from childhood, but they are practices which can bear rich fruit.

Perhaps you are blessed to belong to a parish where such celebrations still take place! In my parish school, children are delighted to participate in the crowning ceremony. The children who made their First Communion that year are also asked to wear their white clothes from that special day. All the children are encouraged to bring flowers and present them to Our Lady.

The heart of every Catholic should turn instinctively toward our heavenly Mother — especially during the month of May. It’s certainly a great comfort to meet the gentle presence of a mother on our spiritual journey, which for many is exhausting and fraught with difficulties, daily disturbances and unexpected trials.

Isn’t it true that with Mary, everything becomes easier? The weary, discouraged heart, disturbed by storms, finds new hope and strength, and continues the journey with fresh courage. Saint Josemaría Escrivá said, “Holy Mary is the Queen of peace. So when your soul or your family are troubled, or things go wrong at work, in society or between nations, cry out to her without ceasing.”

“If the winds of temptation arise,” sings St. Bernard, “if you run into the reefs of trials, look to the star; call upon Mary. In danger, sorrow, or perplexity, think of Mary, call upon Mary.” There are so many times, more than ever in today’s world, that we need her help, the help of Our Mother.

It’s only natural then that we begin our monthly Legatus chapter meetings by praying the rosary. It sets the tone for the spiritual aspect of our meetings and prepares us for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

There are many benefits of praying the rosary: It gradually gives us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ; it purifies our souls, washing away sin; it gives us victory over all our enemies; it makes it easy for us to practice virtue; it sets us on fire with love of Our Lord; it enriches us with graces and merits; it supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellow men; and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces for us from Almighty God.

During the month of May, why not make a resolution to put an image of Our Lady close by — perhaps on your desk at work. Then, throughout the day, glance at the image with a short aspiration such as, “Mary, guide me through the rest of the day,” to sanctify that very moment. Or why not begin a task that may seem tedious by first saying a “Hail Mary”? Then, instead of a burden, it becomes an offering.

Every morning, as I put on my crucifix and Miraculous Medal, I always say this prayer: “O Mary, my mother, I offer myself entirely to you. And to prove my filial affection, this day I consecrate to you my eyes, my ears, my tongue, my heart; in short, my whole being. And now, my good mother, as I am entirely yours, look after me and protect me as someone who belongs to you. Amen.”

Priests, by their very priesthood in Christ, have a unique relationship to Mary. From our vocational call to our ongoing ministry, Mary has a special role in our lives. May our Blessed Mother intercede with her son for all priests, but also that we may have more holy priests.

Mary comes to meet us during this month of May, to take us by the hand, to wrap us under her mantle, to initiate us into the secret of her interior life, which must become the model and norm of our own — especially as Legates striving to help meet the challenges of balancing the responsibilities of faith, family, business and community.

FR. CHRISTOPHER LIGUORI is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Jacksonville, Fla., and co-chaplain of Legatus’ Jacksonville Chapter.