Ross Belle Santos-Balatbat
As a young child, I thought that devotion to Mary was just a summer activity thought up by catechists for children. Most Catholic churches and even in many Catholic homes, a “May Altar” was set with an image or picture of Mary, with a flower offering, and perhaps candles while praying the rosary.
It was during the 11th century that the idea of giving the month of May to Mary began with an old tradition, the “30-Day Devotion to Mary.” During the month, special devotions to Mary were organized. The practice, which began in Italy, eventually spread globally.
Catholics do not worship Mary, we venerate her as Jesus’ mother who is our mother too! St Josemaria wrote: “The month of May is beginning. Our Lord wants us to make good use of this opportunity to increase in his love through dealing with his Mother. Let’s try each day to show her, through little things, little attentions, that we, her children, love her, that our holiness and apostolate are becoming something real, that we are making a constant effort to contribute to the salvation which Christ has brought to the world (Christ is Passing By, n. 149).”
As a child, I went to pick up flowers every afternoon and went to the chapel, joined in reciting a rosary and offered flowers to Mary every month of May. This activity ignited my devotion to Mother Mary and understanding her virtues. She reminds me that being a Christian is an ongoing journey in holiness, and she is truly a perfect model. This is why Catholics honor Mary in May.
Some reasons why it makes sense to honour her are, to wit: (1) Mary is Jesus’ mother, (2) she is the first and most perfect disciple, (3) she is our mother too, (4) Mary loves us more than anyone can ever imagine. She endured the terror of seeing her Son to Calvary. She bore it for all of us, because she understood that Jesus’ Passion and Crucifixion was the only way to our salvation. (5) Mary is continuing her saving office by interceding for us. She is at work looking after us and interceding 24/7/365/forever, for whatever and whenever we need it.
With our Marian devotion, we are led to know Jesus more as we recite the rosary and meditate on the life of the Lord. Like Mary, we will grow in prudence, purity of mind, heart and deeds. We will learn from Mary who is most humble, faithful, devout, obedient, poor, merciful, patient and sorrowful. And Mary’s virtue will encourage and challenge us to grow as Catholics, drawing us nearer to Jesus, so that our relationship with him is deepened and our spiritual senses opened.