It is a centuries-old custom of Catholics to dedicate the month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The month of May is always part of the Easter season, the fifty days we celebrate in the liturgy the Resurrection of Our Lord, a time also of awaiting the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The celebration of May as a Marian month fits well with the liturgical celebrations of Easter and Pentecost as we recall Mary’s great joy in her Son’s victory over death as well as her presence with the apostles in the upper room prayerfully awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
The world is resplendent with Spring’s increased light and new growth. It is Mary’s month in the Easter season and all of nature rejoices with the Queen of heaven at the Resurrection of the Son she was worthy to bear. During the remainder of Easter time, let us endeavour through the prayers of the Holy Liturgy and the Holy Rosary to deepen our gratitude for the mystery of our Baptismal rebirth in Christ.
“The month of May, with its profusion of blooms was adopted by the Church in the eighteenth century as a celebration of the flowering of Mary’s maidenly spirituality. With its origins in Isaiah’s prophecy of the Virgin birth of the Messiah under the figure of the Blossoming Rod or Root of Jesse, the flower symbolism of Mary was extended by the Church Fathers, and in the liturgy, by applying to her the flower figures of the Sapiential Books-Canticles, Wisdom, Proverbs and Sirach.
“In the medieval period, the rose was adopted as the flower symbol of the Virgin Birth, as expressed in Dante’s phrase, ‘The Rose wherein the Divine Word was made flesh,’ and depicted in the central rose windows of the great Gothic cathedrals-from which came the Christmas carol, ‘Lo, How a Rose ‘ere Blooming.’ Also, in the medieval period, when monasteries were the centres of horticultural and agricultural knowledge, and with the spread of the Franciscan love of nature, the actual flowers themselves, of the fields, waysides and gardens, came to be seen as symbols of Mary…” – John S. Stokes
Pentecost, the birth of the Church, is also among the celebrations of May. Though sprung from the side of Christ on the Cross, the Church marks as her birthday the descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles. At the ‘birth’ of the world, the Holy Spirit — the Breath of God — was the “mighty wind [that] swept over the waters” (Gen 1:2); at the birth of the Church He is present again “like the rush of a mighty wind” to recreate the world in the image of Christ through His Church (Acts 2:2).
We, the members of Christ’s Mystical Body, are the present-day disciples sent by the Holy Spirit to bring Christ to the world. May we go forth as did Mary, who set out in haste to assist St. Elizabeth (feast of the Visitation, May 31).
Come upon us, O Holy Spirit, so that, with Mary, we may proclaim the greatness of the Lord who has done great things for us — for his mercy endures forever!