Since it seems to me that it was just Labor Day, it is hard to believe that the month of May is upon us. Yet here we are.
May, in the words of Pope Paul VI’s 1965 Encyclical Menso Maio,is “a month which the piety of the faithful has long dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, …. the month during which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne.”
I grew up going to Catholic school, and still have memories of May processions and crownings of Mary, while singing Marian hymns. (I may not remember the words to all of the other hymns we sang through grade school, but I still remember the words of all the Marian ones we sang.)
In Menso Maio, Paul VI spoke of the custom of choosing this month of May “for urging the Christian people to offer up public prayers whenever the needs of the Church demanded it or some grave crisis threatened the human race.” In the year in which the Encyclical was issued, 1965, the Pope wrote that he felt “compelled to call for such prayers from the whole Catholic world. Looking at the present needs of the Church and the status of world peace, We have sound reasons to believe that the present hour is especially grave and that a plea for concerted prayer on the part of all Christians is a matter of top priority.”
When I look at the Church and the world around us – both here and abroad, it seems to me that “the present hour” is no less grave.
So, while I will not be participating in any May crownings of Mary, I will devote additional time to prayer for our Church and our world.
P.S. St. Ignatius had a strong devotion to Mary. Here is a piece by someone talking about what the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius taught her about Mary.