Okay, so while some may find the title of this post to be in poor taste, May is fast approaching and I wanted to share some ideas on the blog about ways to celebrate Mary’s month that go beyond the traditional May Crowning.
Mary is one of the trickiest people in religious circles. Many people think that Catholics worship Mary, or are weirdly obsessed with her. Walk into almost any Catholic school or Church and Mary is everywhere. Case in point- to gather info for this post I walked around just the 5 rooms on the floor of the building where I teach and I counted at least 10 statues and other representations of Mary. (The main office door was closed, so I couldn’t check that out.) Mary’s importance in religious art is just one indicator of her importance in our church. While we don’t worship Mary, Catholics understand that aside from Jesus, Mary is one of the primary ways we can learn to serve God and do his will.
So to prepare for a month of ideas for prayer, projects and more about Mary, I wanted to start with 5 Reasons There’s Just Something about Mary.
- Mary’s words are truly words to live by. She doesn’t speak often in the Bible, but when she does, we would all do well to listen. My favorite Mary Bible verses are Luke 1:38- “May it be done to me according to your word” and John 2:5- “Do whatever he tells you.” Mary lived a life completely surrendered to the will of God, which what we are all called to do.
- Jesus made her our mother at the cross. During Holy Week I focused on the 7 last words of Christ, which you can read more about here. While Jesus was completely pouring himself out for us, he took the time to commit his mother into our care, and us into hers. Mary truly is our mother, and like any mother she wants what is best for her children. When people are confused about Catholic traditions and prayers like the rosary, I think that parental relationship make the easiest explanation. We ask Mary for help just like we would ask anyone to help us, pray for us or support us in difficult times. She just has the added bonus of being super close with Jesus.
- Mary chooses to visit us with messages of healing and hope. Marian apparition stories are one of my favorite things about the Catholic faith. Throughout some of the darkest moments in history, Mary comes to bring hope and also to remind us of our responsibilities to pray and work for peace. My personal favorite story of Mary visiting her people is the story of Our Lady of Hope.
- Mary often chooses to give her message to children. I love teaching about Marian apparitions because most of the time when Mary appears to people, she chooses children, often middle school aged ones, as her messengers. This provides plenty of opportunities for reflection- why does Mary choose these people? What would you do if Mary chose you?
- Mary transcends our own human divisions. One of my favorite churches in the whole wide world is the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. If you leave the main body of the Church and descend into the basement, the entire space is filled with shrines to Mary iterations from all over the world, from Our Lady of Guadalupe to Our Lady of Vailankanni. When Mary appears throughout the world, she appears as one of us, from a pregnant Native American woman at Guadalupe to a new mother in Vailankanni, India.
Stay tuned for more ways to celebrate Mary and the month of May coming soon!