Marian Month of May

Our Lady of Tenderness

May is a month specially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Of course, other months have specific Marian themes – January, with the Mother of God, February, the Presentation, March, the Annunciation, August, the Assumption, October, the Rosary and December with Advent and Christmas.

But there is something special about May – spring, new life, fine weather, Our Lady of Fatima, the Visitation – and it is only one letter away from the name of Mary herself.

Pope have written copiously on devotion to the Virgin Mother, and just a few of those Magisterial teachings include Pius IX’s Ineffabilis Deus (1854) on the Immaculate Conception; Leo XIII’s Augustissimae Virginis Mariae (1897); Pius X’s Ad Diem Illum Laetissimum (1904); Benedict XV wrote no encyclical, but wrote much on Mary; Pius XI’s Ingravescentibus Malis (1937); Piux XII’s Munificentissius Deus (1950) proclaiming the Assumption; Paul VI’s exhortation Marialis Cultus (1974); John Paul II’s Redemptoris Mater (1987), along with many references to and teachings on Our Lady in his audiences and addresses.

Saints have also written much on the Blessed Virgin, not least Alphonsus Ligouri and Louis de Montfort.

Custom has it that we cultivate some sort of special devotion to Our Lady during May: More dedication to our daily Rosary (which, if prayed in a church or oratory, or in a pious group, gains a plenary indulgence, with the usual conditions), or adding an extra Rosary. There is the Little Office of Our Lady, and innumerable prayers, some of which (not all or too many!) we may adopt as our own: intercessions for purity, patience, good-will, a special intention. A partial list: The Memorare; the Sub Tuum Praesidium (one of the most ancient prayers to the Blessed Mother); the Litany of Loreto, the Magnificat (prayed during Vespers); Maria Mater Gratiae, the Regina Caeli (in Easter), the Salve Regina, Alma Redemptoris, Ave Regina Coelorum (especially in their own proper liturgical seasons).

This is but a partial list, and we add just colloquial conversation with our Blessed Mother, like Juan Diego, talking to her, asking her help, as we would our own mums. Our Lady is a real person, dwelling body and soul in heaven, and has a maternal solicitude for each one of us, desiring our good and our salvation more than we do. As Our Lady of Guadalupe said to Saint Juan:

Am I not your MotherDo I not hold you in the folds of my mantle?

And in a few days, we celebrate Our Lady of Fatima, and we will post some thoughts on that at the time.

For now, as we approach the middle of May, pick up that Rosary, if you haven’t already done so already, and