Catholics have been associating the month of May with Mary for the past few hundred years.
There's a lot more beauty in the earth this time of year, especially in parts where winter made the world gray and barren, and this beauty reminds us of Mary.
It was a Jesuit priest in a Jesuit college several hundred years ago who wanted to prevent students from frivolity and licentiousness just at the time of year when the warmth and beauty of the month tempted them to seek wanton delights. The priest had them make a vow to devote the month of May to Mary, rather than to sensual pursuits. From there, the custom spread to other Jesuit schools all over Europe and then generally throughout the church. The May devotions were the first to cover a whole month. Following this example, other devotions were gradually attached to other months (e.g. June for the Sacred Heart of Jesus).
Our local customs on Guam are all due to the strong Marian devotion of the Spanish missionaries.
The true custom is for little girls to dress in white as angels, and little boys to dress as the Archangels, with the girls throwing flowers to Our Lady's statue while the adults sang the standard hymn. This was done every day in May.
May is also the month we celebrate the Queenship of Mary (May 31; traditional Catholic calendar) and in many countries, as a secular observance, Mother's Day.
THINGS WE CAN DO THIS MONTH
1. REFLECT ON THE PRINCIPAL MYSTERIES OF THE LIFE OF MARY
- The Annunciation. What a surprise for the unsuspecting virgin! Yet what obedience to God's will.
- Mary's Visit to her cousin Elizabeth. What profound humility! She just found out she was to become the mother of the Son of God, yet she runs to help her pregnant cousin.
- The Birth of Christ. What mystery! He is born without harming her physical integrity. In a cave, with animals! Shepherds come, sent by angels! Later, wise men from the east!
- The Presentation in the Temple. What disturbing words from Simeon! The child shall be opposed! She herself, in her heart, will be pierced with a sword.
- The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. What anguish! She has lost her son! What confusion! She is told that He must be about His Father's business. The young child astonishes the old teachers!
- The Wedding at Cana. What foreboding! She induces Him to perform His first sign. The door opens to His public ministry, one that will lead to His death - and her greatest suffering.
- At the Foot of the Cross. What misery! For a mother to see her child so brutally mangled! What love! Woman, there is your son!
- Immaculate Conception. Mary is conceived without Original Sin from the first moment of her existence, in the womb of Saint Anne, her mother.
- Divine Maternity. Mary is not just Mother of Jesus; she is also Mother of God (in Greek, Theotokos). Not that she gives Jesus His divinity, but, because He is divine from all eternity, the One she gave birth to, in time, is God Himself.
- Perpetual Virginity. Mary remained a virgin before giving birth, as she gave birth and forever after she gave birth to Jesus.
- Assumption. At the end of her earthly life, Mary was assumed into heaven, body and soul.
- Guadalupe. Mary reveals herself as "truly your merciful mother." She has concern and compassion on the poor and the sick. She is the great evangelizer of Mexico and America. She is patroness of America, and of the Pro-Life Cause.
- Lourdes. Mary reveals herself as "the Immaculate Conception." She brings healing of soul and body, and calls for penance, penance, penance.
- Fatima. Mary's warnings become more serious. She warns of divine punishment for the increasing evils of modern times, yet she offers us a way out : prayer, penance and reparation.
- Make her image the centerpiece in May. Keep a candle lit; flowers fresh.
- Pray as a family every day before this altar. Make a family consecration to the Immaculate Heart. Ask Mary to bring more love into your home life.
- Choose an exact time (usually 6PM but somewhat before or after is acceptable) to pray the Angelus together. Always keep this time.
RAISING THE BAR
(Things more challenging to do! But we reap what we sow!)
1. Upon awaking, to rise immediately from bed in a spirit of making full use of the day, beginning with prayer on one's knees at the side of the bed, in imitation of Mary's prayerful and prompt obedience to God
2. To ask Mary to help us accept something taught to us by the Church which we may find difficult to accept or to practice
3. To think of the person you have the hardest time loving, and asking Mary to give you the strongest love for that person - not mushy sentiment! But a sincere desire for that person's genuine welfare.
4. To give way to someone else, as in : to let someone else have the last word (except in matters of faith or morals), or the seat you wanted, or to enter or exit first
5. To remain silent when corrected by someone else, but peacefully, not with quiet resentment
6. To talk to someone today about the advantages of being devoted to Mary, especially if we have a good idea we will be ridiculed for saying so
7. Visit someone sick or in need, as Mary visited Elizabeth
8. Ask someone whose judgment you respect one thing they see in you that can be improved