May, the Month of Mary
In many Catholic countries, May is dedicated to our Blessed Mother. To show love and devotion to the Mother of God, children joyfully gather flowers in the morning and go to the church in the afternoon to offer these with songs, prayers, and rosaries.
Why is May Mary’s Month?
The seeds of this devotion dates back to the ancient Greeks who dedicated May to Artemis, the goddess of fecundity. In Ancient Rome, May was dedicated to Flora, the goddess of blossoms. Around the 13th century, the tradition of dedicating May to Mary came about as May is when spring is at the height of its beauty. Spring is also connected with nature renewing itself. Mary gave new life to the world when she gave birth to our Savior Jesus Christ.
In 1945, Pope Pius XII established the feast of the Queenship of Mary on May 31. With this feast, the crowning of Mary became part of the May devotions. After the Vatican Council, however, the feast was moved to August 22 and May 31 became the feast of the Visitation of Mary.
Why should we honor Mary?
In the Davidic Kingdom, when the King was away or difficult to approach, the people turned to the queen, the King’s mother. They were certain that the king would grant their petitions because the son could not refuse his mother. The same is true with Mary and Jesus. Jesus grants our prayers through Mary's intercession.
How can we honor Mary this month?
In a Letter for the Month of May, published on the feast of St Mark the Evangelist (25 April), the Pope notes that it is a tradition to pray the Rosary at home with the family during this month. This year, he continues, “the restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this 'family' aspect, also from a spiritual point of view”.
That is why he is proposing to everyone to “rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May”, whether individually or as a group, “making the most both opportunities”. Pope Francis says, “the key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow”
Pope Francis also proposes two new prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which can be recited at the end of the Rosary. (See FIRST PRAYER on page 8 of the May English Bulletin, Publications Section、and the SECOND PRAYER below). In his letter, he assures the faithful that he too will be reciting those prayers throughout the month of May, “in spiritual union with all of you” The Pope says, “contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial”. He concludes his letter with the promise that he is praying for all of us “especially those suffering most greatly”; and he asks for our prayers as well.
“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.
In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.
Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.
Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.
Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.
Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.
Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.
Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.
Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.
Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.
To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.