May is Mary’s Month.
This has been a custom in the Church dating back many centuries. And it is beautiful to associate Mary with the coming of Spring and the new birth of flowers and plants and crops in the field.
In this special month, in which we will celebrate Christ’s Ascension into Heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, I encourage you to deepen your devotion to Mary.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we see the beautiful image of the early Church united in prayer around “Mary, the mother of Jesus.” That’s what Jesus wanted. His last wish — some call it his last will and testament — was that his mother should become our mother. He told the apostle St. John and each one of us: “Behold, your mother!”
So we need to make sure that Mary always has an important place in our lives. The Gospel says St. John took Mary into his “own home.” We need to do that, too. We need to develop a deep personal relationship with Mary — one of love, affection, devotion and trust.
The Gospel tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom in the household at Nazareth, with Mary and St. Joseph. And we grow in faith and holiness if we stay close to Mary. If we listen to her words and learn from her example.
At the Annunciation, Mary told the angel, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” She entrusted herself totally to God’s will for her life. She made a commitment to cooperate with his will, to be a “handmaid” to his plan of salvation. I like to think that Jesus learned something of his own attitude of trust in God’s will from Mary.
We can hear her faith reflected in the words that Jesus taught his disciples to pray: “Thy will be done.” And we can hear how deeply Jesus lived this attitude of abandonment to God’s will. On the night he was asked to die for us, he prayed: “Not my will, but thine be done.”
That’s the attitude we need to live as children of God and children of Mary. Like Jesus and like Mary, we need to trust that our heavenly Father knows what is best for us, that he has a plan and a purpose for our lives. We need to say to God in every circumstance, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”
We can also learn a lot from Mary’s habit of reflecting on the life of her Son. The Gospel says she treasured his words and pondered the meaning of his actions: “She kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
In this, too, she can be our model. We should spend some time each day contemplating Jesus’ words and deeds through our prayerful reading of the Gospels. Like Mary, we should keep his words and example in our hearts. We should pray for the grace we need every day to love her more and to be more like Jesus. We turn to Mary because in her arms we always find Jesus Christ. And in him we have safety and peace.
Mary teaches us to always look to Jesus. Her last words in the Gospels, at the wedding at Cana, should be the first words that define how we live: “Do whatever he tells you.” Mary teaches us to be open to what Jesus wants to do in our lives. She welcomed Jesus into her life and gave him to the world. That should also be an example for us. We should be ready always to bring the gift of Jesus to others.
So in this month of Mary, as we pray for one another, let’s all try to take some practical steps to deepen our devotion to Mary. Maybe that means praying the Rosary with more devotion and affection. Maybe it means saying a special Marian prayer, like the Memorare.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Queen of Peace, so throughout this month of May we should offer prayers for peace in our city and in the world. Let us ask Mary’s intercession to help us love her as Jesus loved her. Let’s dedicate ourselves to sharing our lives generously with others — as our Blessed Mother did. And let’s ask the Virgin Mary to be more and more a mother to us.
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