Growing closer to Jesus through His Mother – May, a month dedicated to Mary

The path of faith and hope that the Blessed Virgin Mary provides to the world is something which is celebrated during the month of May. This path brings us to a greater understanding of Christ, and a closer relationship with Him.

When Mary, the Immaculate handmaid of the Lord, said “yes” to the message of the Archangel, she followed the One who bestows universal favors, and the human race would never be the same. Mary trusted in the will of God to the fullest measure: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled (Luke 1:45).”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane said through Mary’s example, “we learn the important lesson that ‘nothing will be impossible for God.’ Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to Your word.’ Then the angel departed from her’ (Luke 1:37-38). Without God, we cannot fulfill His Mission. Our Lady understood that, so must each one of us. We must radically change our inner selves and have that same strength to do the will of the Lord.”

Pope Francis said Mary’s greatness does not consist in performing an extraordinary deed, but in silence and adoration, she placed Jesus at the center and bears witness to Him as Savior.

“She is Mother not only because she carried Jesus in her womb and gave birth to Him, but because she brings Him into the light, without occupying His place,” the Holy Father said. “She will remain silent even beneath the cross, in the darkest hour, and will continue to make room for Him and (make Him accessible) for us… With her silence and humility, Mary is God’s first ‘cathedral,’ the place where He and humanity can meet.”

During Advent 2017, Bishop Dewane, in unity with the priests and faithful of the Diocese of Venice, formally consecrated the Diocese to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. By this Act of Consecration, which coincided with the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, the faithful entrusted the Diocese and its good works to Our Lady so as to fulfill more readily the will of her Divine Son for His Church.

Honoring Mary in May

The Month of May serves as an opportunity to reflect upon the season of the Liturgical Year which largely corresponds with the 50 days of Easter. Therefore, time should be taken to reflect on Our Lady’s participation in the Paschal mystery and in Pentecost (May 19, 2024), which marks the beginning of the Church.

May is often when young Catholics receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time. In addition, at Parishes and Diocesan Catholic schools May Crowning ceremonies take place, during which a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is given a crown of flowers as a public commitment to pray for the intercessions of the Blessed Virgin Mary throughout the month.

This month, in which we honor Our Lady, is also a time to renew a commitment to praying the Mysteries of the Rosary (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous). Our Lady has 117 titles but selected this title at Fatima: “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” St. Francis de Sales said the greatest method of praying is to “Pray the Rosary.”

Our Lady is an important symbol throughout the Diocese of Venice. Our Lady of Mercy is the Patroness of the Diocese of Venice and is the name of a Parish in Boca Grande. Additionally, the Blessed Virgin is honored with numerous Parishes and other facilities named in her honor. These include: Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center, Venice; St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Longboat Key; Our Lady of the Angels, Lakewood Ranch; Our Lady of Grace, Avon Park; Our Lady of Guadalupe, Immokalee; Our Lady of Light, Fort Myers; Our Lady of Miraculous Medal, Bokeelia; Our Lady of Lourdes, Venice; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Osprey; Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Sarasota; and Our Lady Queen of Heaven, LaBelle.

Pope Paul VI wrote an encyclical in 1965 citing the Month of Mary devotion as a means of obtaining prayers for peace. May is the month during which the piety of the faithful is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and is also the time for a “moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world [pay] to the Queen of Heaven,” Pope Paul VI wrote “During this month Christians, both in church and in the privacy of the home, offer up to Mary from their hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration. In this month, too, the benefits of God’s mercy come down to us from her throne in greater abundance.”

The Christian custom of dedicating the month of May to the Blessed Virgin arose at the end of the 13th century. In this way, the Church was able to Christianize the secular feasts which were taking place at that time. In the 16th century, books appeared and fostered this devotion, which continues to this day.