Rejoice! It’s 1 May and the beginning of the Month of the Blessed Virgin Mary
“God wills that all his gifts should come to us through Mary”
St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) Mellifluous Doctor
It was in Rome, towards the end of the eighteenth century, one fine evening in May. A child of the poor gathered his companions around him and led them to a statue of Mary, before which a lamp was burning, as is the custom in that holy city. There, these fresh young voices sang the Litany of our Lady. The next day, the little group, followed by other children, again gathered at the feet of the Mother of God. Next came their mothers, to join the little assembly. Soon, other groups were formed and the devotion rapidly became popular. Holy souls, troubled by the disorderly conduct which always increases and becomes graver at the return of the pleasant springtime, saw in these growing practices the hand of God and they co-operated with the designs of Providence by approving and promoting this new devotion, as a public and solemn act of reparation. The Month of Mary was founded! … A Carthusian, A Month with Mary, London: Burns and Oates, 1950.
“This is the month in which, in the churches and individual homes, the most affectionate and fervent homage of prayers and devotions from the hearts of Christians are raised to Mary. It is also the month in which from His throne, descend upon us, the most generous and abundant gifts of the Divine Mercy.” … Blessed Pope Paul VI, The Month of Mary,1967
In our own times, we Catholics, wanting to be close to her always, offer her special presents in May: pilgrimages, visits to churches dedicated to her, little sacrifices in her honour, extra Devotions in her honour, floral ‘Crownings’, periods of study and well-finished work offered up to her and a more attentive recitation of the Marian Litanies and the Holy Rosary.
Opening Hymn from the Little Office of Mary
O Mary of all women,
You are the chosen one,
Who, ancient prophets promised,
Would bear God’s only Son;
All Hebrew generations
Prepared the way to thee,
That in your womb the God-man,
Might come to set us free.
O Mary, you embody
all God taught to our race,
For you are first and foremost
In fullness of His grace;
We praise this wondrous honour
That you gave birth to Him,
Who from you took humanity
And saved us from our sin.