The Queen of Heaven is so revered for her relationship with Christ and her love and guidance of her earthly children, the Catholic Church has dedicated the month of May in her honor.
In his 1965 encyclical, “Mense Maio,” Pope Paul VI wrote about the importance of Mary’s intercession for all the world, explaining that those who encounter her, encounter her Son, Jesus:
“For what other reason do we continually turn to Mary except to seek the Christ in her arms, to seek our Savior in her, through her, and with her? To Him men are to turn amid the anxieties and perils of this world, urged on by duty and driven by the compelling needs of their heart, to find a haven of salvation, a transcendent fountain of life.”
Pope Paul VI went on to write May is the month Christians offer the Virgin Mother more “fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne.”
During the month of May, we honor her motherly and queenly majesty from every corner of the earth.
Fr. Oliver Mohan, in residence at St. Timothy Parish in Mesa, said Mary is our advocate, and the spiritual mother of all humanity.
“Even for people who are not Catholic,” Fr. Mohan said. “She is the Queen of All Nations. Every country is her field of jurisdiction.”
He said Marian feasts vary from country to country, and that they are specific holy days of the liturgical year that Christians celebrate because of their local, regional, national or international importance.
One example is Knock, County Mayo, Ireland, where Mary appeared in 1879. Today, it ranks among the world’s major Marian shrines.
“It’s the same Mary, she just has the whole world,” Fr. Mohan said.
Pope Francis consecrated his papacy to Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, and he invited everyone to consecrate themselves to her tender, loving care.
By faith, we become the sons and daughters of Jesus, so it should be natural for us to ask Mary to intercede on our behalf.
“Just as a child goes to their mother, we go before her with confidence and she will present our prayers on our behalf,” said Fr. Alphonsus Bakyil, SOLT, pastor, St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Camp Verde.
Fr. Bakyil said the faithful will use the month of May to add more Marian prayers, like the Litany of Loreto, crown an image of Mary with flowers or pray a rosary daily with family or friends.
“Praying the rosary with dignity and respect is a good beginning,” he said. “Through prayer, we connect with Mary’s role in our lives.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls Mary our model of faith and charity, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.
“The Church rightly honors the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…This very special devotion…differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration. The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an epitome of the whole Gospel, expresses this devotion to the Virgin Mary.” (§971)
Traditionally, the month of October is “rosary month” in the Catholic Church while the month of May is devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Among the most prominent Marian feast days in May, according to the ordinary Roman Catholic Calendar:
May 1, Queen of Heaven; May 13, Our Lady of Fatima; May 24, Mary Help of Christians; and May 31, Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
St. Bernard was quoted as saying, “If the winds of temptation arise, look at your star, invoke Mary; if the greatness of your crimes troubles you, think of Mary.”
Gina Keating, a regular contributor to The Catholic Sun, leads children’s faith formation and sacramental preparation at St. Theresa Parish. “Our Faith” is a special Year of Faith feature that seeks to clarify often misunderstood Catholic teachings.
photo credit: Catedrales e Iglesias via photopin cc