For more than 800 years it has been part of our Catholic tradition that the month of May has been a time when we are invited to give particular spiritual focus to the role of Our Blessed Lady in the story of our history of salvation, and her constant loving and protective care of our personal and family lives. She stands for all of us as the first disciple of Jesus, and therefore as one whom we can turn to in all our joys and sorrows, our Mother of faith, who will forever lead us to Her Beloved Son, our Most Holy Redeemer.
Many of the Popes down through the ages have invited to make use of the month of May to reflect more deeply on the gift of Mary as our Mother, and as one to whom we can turn in all the events of our daily lives. She has always been understood as one who walked her human journey in complete faith, even in times of complete darkness and confusion. She therefore becomes for each of us a loving companion as we strive to find the presence of God in our personal lives and in the life of our families.
In 1965, Pope Paul VI wrote a beautiful short encyclical on the joys that are to be found in drawing close to Our Blessed Mother during the month of May. He wrote that “The month of May is a month which the piety of the faithful has long dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God. Our heart rejoices at the thought of the moving tribute of faith and love which will soon be paid to the Queen of Heaven in every corner of the earth. For this is 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.”
Pope Paul VI went on to add that during the month of May we should focus in particular on prayer for the gift of peace: personal peace, peace in our homes and peace in the world. He wrote “May she who experienced the cares and hardships of earthly life, the weariness of daily toil, the hardships and trials of poverty, and the sorrows of Calvary, come to aid the needs of the Church and the human race. May she graciously lend an ear to the devout pleas of those all over the world who beg her for peace. May she enlighten the minds of those who rule nations. And finally, may she prevail on God, who rules the winds and storms, to calm the tempests in men’s warring hearts and grant us peace in our day. What we seek is true peace grounded on the sturdy foundations of justice and love—on a justice which recognizes the legitimate rights of the weak as well as those of the strong; on a love which keeps men from falling into error through excessive concern for their own interests. Thus each person’s rights may be safeguarded without the rights of others being forgotten or violated.”
These words of Pope Paul VI, written over 50 years ago now, remain just as meaningful to us today as they did in his own time. Indeed, the world is troubled and broken, and crying out for the gift of peace for all. He urged us in particular to make use of the recitation of the Holy Rosary to intercede for the gift of peace for all.
“You should know that we are relying particularly on the prayers of children and those suffering affliction, for their pleas have special power to penetrate heaven and soften God’s justice. Since this is a perfect occasion, do not fail to put repeated emphasis on the recitation of the Rosary, the prayer so pleasing to Our Lady It affords the faithful an excellent means of complying effectively and pleasingly with our divine Master’s command: “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.”
Let each of us, and particularly as families, turn to Our Blessed Mother in intercession, that peace may be bestowed on our hearts and on the world.
Fr Gerard, CSsR