May - the month of Mary
The ways Mary is honored in May is as varied as the people who
It’s common for parishes to have a daily recitation of the Rosary
during May, and many erect a special May altar with a statue or picture
of Mary as a reminder of Mary’s month. Additionally, it’s a long-
standing tradition to crown the statue of Mary during May – a custom
known as May Crowning. Often, the crown is made of beautiful blossoms representing Mary’s beauty and virtue. It’s also a reminder to the faithful to strive to imitate our Blessed Mother’s virtue in our own lives. May Crowning, in some areas, is a huge celebration and is usually done outside of Mass, although Mass may be celebrated before or after the actual crowning.
But May altars and crownings aren’t just “church” things. We can and should be doing the same in our homes. When we echo the customs and traditions of the Church in our homes – our domestic churches – we participate more fully in the life of the Church.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to erect a prayer corner in your home. No matter how fancy or simple it is. The main point is that it’s a place designated for God, and more specifically, for spending time with him. Just as you need proper atmosphere to sleep, you also need proper atmosphere to pray.
For May, give Mary a special spot in your prayer corner. It can be a statue or picture, but place there some representation of our Blessed Mother. Make it appealing and a real tribute to her beauty and virtue.
Then, crown Mary. You can give her an actual or spiritual crown and you can make it a subtle gesture or ornate ceremony of your own device. The meaning is far more important than the action. You can do it in the beginning, at the end of May or anywhere in between.
Just do it.
Not because it’s a long-standing tradition in the Church, although it is. Not because there are any special graces connected to it, although there is.
No, do it because Mary is Mother – your mother, my mother, everyone’s mother – and because she cares for all of us day-in-and-day-out without fail, interceding for us in even the tiniest matters.
For that, she deserves an entire month in her honor.
Honoring Mary in our Homes
May is a great time to begin new ways of honoring Mary in our homes. Here are a few ideas.
There is an ancient tradition in the Church of creating Marian Gardens. Many of us have statues of Mary in our yards, but did you know that there are many beautiful plants that are symbolic to the life of Mary? For example, ferns are symbolic of Mary’s hair and pansies (with their three petals) are a reminder of the Trinity and sometimes referred to as “Our Lady’s Delight.” There are many online sources for such gardens, and it is a fun way to include the entire family.
Have a May crowning. Many parishes of course have a May crowning, but if you have a statue of Mary in your home or yard, have a May crowning. It doesn’t take much talent to create a small crown (I know this from experience!) with small flowers purchased from a craft store. If you have children, include them! Crown Mary, perhaps sing a Marian hymn or pray the Hail Mary of Regina Caeli together.
Pray the Rosary. Many a good intention has been made to pray the Rosary daily, only to be forgotten in our busy lives. Praying the Rosary is a most powerful prayer (Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world, said Blessed Pope Pius IX), and Mary herself (at Fatima) promised peace if we would only pray the Rosary daily with great devotion. If you aren’t sure how to pray the Rosary, it is easy to learn. Again, involve your children if you have any. And if an entire Rosary is too much for some children (I know it was for a couple of mine!), pray a decade with them before bedtime, and then finish the Rosary on your own. If you have kids, make sure they have child-friendly Rosaries.
St. John Paul II credited Mary with saving his life when he was shot in St. Peter’s Square. He had a great devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, and wrote a beautiful prayer to her. Perhaps your May devotion to Mary could be praying this daily. You can find it here; it begins with the words, “O Mother of all mean and women, and of all peoples, you who know all their sufferings and hopes…”)
The University of Dayton is home to the International Marian Research Institute, a treasure of Marian art, prayers, research and dogma regarding Mary. There is a lot to explore here! Why not take some time during this month of May to learn a bit more about the Blessed Mother?