The Blessed Virgin Mary’s path of faith and hope serves as an example to all.
This is just one of the reasons that the Universal Church dedicates the Month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The month serves as an opportunity to reflect upon the season of the Liturgical Year which largely corresponds with the fifty days of Easter. Therefore, time should be taken to reflect on Our Lady’s participation in the Paschal mystery and in Pentecost with which the Church begins.
Pope Francis said “the message of hope contained in God’s blessing was fully realized in a woman, Mary, who was destined to become the Mother of God, and it was fulfilled in her before any other creature.” The Holy Father added that “our journey of faith is the same as that of Mary, and so we feel that she is particularly close to us.”
May is also the time when young Catholics often receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion for the first time and is appropriately when Mother’s Day is celebrated. Parishes and Catholic Schools in the Diocese have May Crowning ceremonies in which a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary is given a crown of flowers.
On May 3, 2023, Bishop Frank J. Dewane presided at a May Crowning ceremony for the Diocesan staff of the Catholic Center in Venice. The ceremony included prayers, songs and sought the intercession of Mary for all throughout the Diocese of Venice.
Bishop Dewane also said May is the perfect time for the faithful to renew a commitment to the “simple and effective” prayer of 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.”
“Praying the Mysteries of the Rosary strengthens us in faith, in our vocation and in our mission,” Bishop Dewane added. “By her example of humility and openness to God’s will, she helps us to transmit our faith in a joyful proclamation of the Gospel to all, without any reservation.”
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 which the piety of the faithful has been especially dedicated to Our Blessed Lady,” Pope Paul VI wrote, and May is the time for a “moving tribute of faith and love which Catholics in every part of the world [pay] to the Queen of Heaven. During this month Christians, both in church and in the privacy of their homes, 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 wont to take place at that time. In the 16th century, books appeared and fostered this devotion.
Pope Francis, in his 2018 Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, described the Blessed Virgin Mary as follows: “She is that woman who rejoiced in the presence of God, who treasured everything in her heart, and who let herself be pierced by the sword. Mary is the saint among the saints, blessed above all others. She teaches us the way of holiness and she walks ever at our side. She does not let us remain fallen and at times she takes us into her arms without judging us.”
For this reason, Pope Francis has called upon the faithful to consecrate themselves to Mary. The Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine worship defines consecration to Mary as an overt recognition of the “singular role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, of the universal and exemplary importance of her witness to the Gospel, of trust in her intercession, and of the efficacy of her patronage.”
In the past, several popes have consecrated the Church and the world to Mary. Pope Pius XII consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Oct. 31, 1942.
St. John Paul II – who consecrated the entire Church and world to Mary three times during his pontificate – taught that by consecrating oneself to Mary, we accept her help in offering ourselves fully to Christ.