The month of May is fittingly devoted to Mary, who cultivates the spiritual life
The Church dedicates this month of May to the Mother of God. It is a particularly fitting devotion, for just as the wonders of nature are springing into life with the energy of spring, so the Church encourages Her children to use this month to cultivate the spiritual life in a similar manner – particularly after the pruning time of Lent and Holy Week.
Newly blossoming flowers are used to crown statues of Mary in May processions, visibly cementing this link between material and spiritual life. So, fresh with the joys of Easter after the trials of Lent, May is an apt time to cultivate devotion to Mary who is also fresh from her sorrows and glory resulting from her Co-Redemptive actions with her Son.
While no encouragement is need to foster devotion to Mary, the Popes have written often proposing devotion to Mary for Catholics. In his 1947 encyclical Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII highlighted this month-long devotion to Mary, praising it as having a key place in the life of the Church and Her children.
“There are, besides, other exercises of piety which, although not strictly belonging to the sacred liturgy, are, nevertheless, of special import and dignity, and may be considered in a certain way to be an addition to the liturgical cult; they have been approved and praised over and over again by the Apostolic See and by the bishops.
Among these are the prayers usually said during the month of May in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, or during the month of June to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus: also novenas and triduums, stations of the cross and other similar practices.”
Elsewhere in his encyclical, the Pontiff defended the devotion paid by the Church to the Mother of God, noting her unique and intimate link with Christ in the life of the Church and the very act of Redemption.
“Among the saints in heaven the Virgin Mary Mother of God is venerated in a special way. Because of the mission she received from God, her life is most closely linked with the mysteries of Jesus Christ, and there is no one who has followed in the footsteps of the Incarnate Word more closely and with more merit than she: and no one has more grace and power over the most Sacred Heart of the Son of God and through Him with the Heavenly Father. Holier than the Cherubim and Seraphim, she enjoys unquestionably greater glory than all the other saints, for she is ‘full of grace,’ she is the Mother of God, who happily gave birth to the Redeemer for us.
Since she is therefore, ‘Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope,’ let us all cry to her ‘mourning and weeping in this vale of tears,’ and confidently place ourselves and all we have under her patronage. She became our Mother also when the divine Redeemer offered the sacrifice of Himself; and hence by this title also, we are her children. She teaches us all the virtues; she gives us her Son and with Him all the help we need, for God ‘wished us to have everything through Mary.”
Therefore, the Church, ever correctly in tune with the needs of the world – both material and natural – uses the time of spring to encourage people to foster a devotion to the Mother of God. Lent has been the time of testing, akin to a hard winter, and now in the blossoming forth of Easter joy, Mary is presented to faithful souls as the guide to assist souls on their journey to grow ever more fruitful in the life of Christ.