May 2023: Editorial
The Month of Mary
On a visit to Nazareth some months ago a pilgrim approached me to say how surprised she was to discover that ‘Our Lady was Jewish!’ and she followed quickly with a question ‘ When did she become a Catholic then?’ It was an innocent, sincere query and as I struggled to answer I realised afresh the extraordinary courage of the young Jewish girl who had changed the course of salvation history with her ‘Yes’ to God’s call. What Mary was faced with in responding to that call was indeed a break from the religious traditions and expectations of a young Jewish woman of her time. She could not have been certain of the response of Joseph her betrothed, or her own family who tradition holds had dedicated her to the Temple as a small child. More certain was the response of religious authorities which would have condemned her mysterious pregnancy out of hand as they would later condemn the fruit of her womb. Yes, Mary was not short of courage to match her faith.
During the month of May we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Mary, Mother of the Church, the Visitation and this year, Pentecost Sunday when Mary gathered with the apostles in prayer. But the whole month of May has been known as the month of Mary for centuries. A month dedicated to Mary even existed outside May from 15 August to 14 September but at some point Mary and May combined and the tradition of crowning the statue of Mary with flowers representing her beauty and virtue became a great celebration. Whether we mark this month with an altar to her, crown her with flowers or with our own spiritual exercises or pray the rosary may we invite Mary and her example of courage and faith more deeply into our lives.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said; ‘If you ever feel distressed during your day — call upon our Lady – just say this simple prayer: ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.’ I must admit – this prayer has never failed me.’