God created us. God loves all he created. God, therefore, loves us. God’s eternal love for us is manifested, in part, by the reality that he gave Mary, his mother, to us. Mary, then, is our mother, too.
For centuries, the Catholic Church has set aside the entire month of May to honor Mary, our mother. The custom spans both centuries and cultures, with roots going back as far as the Ancient Greeks. In early Greece, May was dedicated to Artemis, the goddess of fruitfulness. In Ancient Rome, May was dedicated to Flora, the goddess of blooms. In medieval times, similar customs centered around the practice of expelling winter, as May 1 was considered the start of new growth.
The idea of a month dedicated specifically to Mary can be traced back to baroque times. Although it wasn’t always held during May, “Mary Month” included thirty daily spiritual exercises that honored Mary. It was in this era that Mary’s Month and May were combined, making May the “Month of Mary.” Devotions grew, especially in the nineteenth century. Even today, it’s common for parishes to have a daily recitation of the Rosary during May, and many erect a special May altar, with a statue or picture of Mary as a reminder of Mary’s month. Additionally, it’s a long-standing tradition to crown the statue of Mary during May — a custom known as May Crowning.
In the physical realm, there comes a time when the mother is not needed as much: children grow into adults, able to care for themselves; but in the spiritual realm, we remain children. We are children dependent on the grace of God. The Church calls Mary the Mediatrix because she is often the mediator of God’s grace. I like to think of the Little Sisters of the Poor, too, as mediators of God’s grace. Certainly, none are Mediatrix the way that Mary is, but each Sister is called to love the Residents of her home the way that God loves them; the way that Mary loves them; the way that St. Jeanne Jugan loved them. In this way, each of today’s Little Sisters of the Poor is a spiritual mother — in the flesh!
Written by Fr. Joe Weigman
* You can celebrate the month of Mary and the Mothers in your life by giving a donation of any amount for Sacred Heart Home’s Mother’s Day Mass celebrated on Sunday, May 8. The names of our living and deceased mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters will be remembered in our prayers. To make an online donation, please click here >>. You can also call Deanna Dunaway at 419-698-4331.