The month of May is the Month dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It has been a great and most noble custom within the Church to dedicate the entire Month of May to honour Mary, the Mother of God and Our Mother.
This goes back to medieval times. To begin with, the month of May used to be the month which expels winter so that new growth starts creeping in. Moreover, during medieval times, we encounter a tradition called Tricesimum, or “Thirty-Day Devotion to Mary.” This tradition was also referred to as “Lady Month.” It kicked off from August 15 till September 14. Interestingly enough, this festival still has some following up to this very day in certain areas.
The idea of dedicating an entire month to Mary is found in the baroque period. Even if it wasn’t really the month of Mary, we do find a Mary Month. The latter consisted of thirty daily spiritual exercises with the precise intent of honouring the Mother of God. Hence, during the baroque period, we have the gradual mixing and integration of Mary’s Month with the Month of Mary thus evolving into the Marian Month of May, the Month of Mary. As we know already, by time this month started being adorned with numerous special devotions that were practiced on each and every single day all through the month in question. This custom became particularly diffused during the nineteenth century and still is in practice up till this very day.
This special month of May is a high and graced time where we Catholics came to honour, appreciate and follow with intensity the example of lived holiness as Mary, the Mother of God and Our Mother shows us thanks to her life. By allowing ourselves to be taught by Mary of how to listen and live Her Son’s word we realize how holiness is achievable thanks to the intercession and guidance of Our Heavenly Mother. By having Mary on our side we can really worship Jesus, Her Son and Our Eternal Elder Brother.
Pope Francis’ Letter on the Month of May, addressed to all the faithful throughout the world, which bears the date of 25 April 2020 and given from Saint John Lateran in Rome tells us that the month of May is a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this letter, the Argentinian Pope also explains that it is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family.
In that very short and inspiring letter, Pope Francis gave some suggestions as to how the Rosary is to be prayed, notwithstanding the situation of the restrictions of the pandemic. He said: For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities. The key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow.
Here one can also appreciate the holy initiatives of people uniting themselves into one international family through the internet to pray this very simple, biblical and powerful prayer which is the Rosary.
Towards the end of his letter, Pope Francis also provides us with two prayers that we can pray to Mary at the end of the Rosary. The first one is so apt to conclude the Rosary with. It says:
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.
“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.
We fly to your protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from every danger,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.
Such a prayer made me realize that Rosary is, in fact, the practice of contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome [any] time of trial. Speaking personally, the Rosary has been a powerful help for me particularly now in my time of illness. It was May 4, 2012 when I was diagnosed with myeloproliferative disorder in my bone marrow after having a heart attack which nearly killed me. Since then, Jesus gave me the grace to keep focused on Him, aided by the great comfort, consolation and strength I get from reciting the Rosary daily. The hazard I experienced in my health turned out to be a flourishing and refreshing moment of grace in my life. The more I pray the 20 mysteries of the Rosaries, the more I experience in my heart that wonderful and holy parallelism Pope Francis speaks of when he spoke to the seminarians from Barcelona on Saturday December 10, 2022:
Dear seminarians, take up your rosary and ask Mary, Queen and Mother of Mercy, to help unveil the mysteries of the priesthood to which God calls you, contemplating the mysteries of his Son, realizing that the joy of discipleship and perfect identification with the cross are the only way to glory. It is in this way that persevering prayer bears fruit in a priest’s life.