May Is “Mary’s Month”

Mary Statue SJB TrimmedHer statues have always radiated sweetness. She is always young and pink-cheeked and slender, with beautiful locks casting down to her waist.

But the Mary presented to us in the Gospels is neither a fairy-tale princess nor the romanticized “lovely lady dressed in blue teaching us how to pray.” The flesh and blood Mary, whom the Church remembers in a special manner during the month of May, was an altogether real, human woman.

She is . . . The pregnant adolescent who was painfully misunderstood by the man she loved. The mother who having just given birth was forced to leave her homeland for the safety of a newborn child. The frantic parent searching for her lost child in the big city. The caring woman who was not afraid to speak her mind and voice her questions. The anguished mother who stood by stoically as her innocent son was executed.

The woman we venerate in mysterious icons was a woman with her feet planted firmly on earth. Mary knew the pain that only a mother could feel; she knew the joy that only a humble, selfless and giving woman of faith could experience.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, in his poem “The May Magnificat,” explores in literary form why the month of May is traditionally seen as “Mary’s month.” The poem shows us what marvelous beauty is achieved each year by the obedience of the created elements; its conclusion shows us how much greater was the result of the obedience of Mary, and why the glorious fertility of Spring should be associated with the incomparable riches brought into the world by her “yes” – the fruit of her womb, Jesus.

May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunest
And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring?—
Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfed cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

May is Mary’s month. It is a special time of prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also Eastertime, so we join Mary in rejoicing in Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. We can honor Mary in this month by praying the Rosary or another Marian devotion and by participating in Mass on the Feast of the Visitation, which concludes the month on May 31st. It is also a good time for quiet reflection on the seven joys of Mary, the traditional counterpart to her seven sorrows. The joys of Mary are the Annunciation, the birth of Jesus, the adoration of the Magi, the Resurrection, the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and Mary’s coronation as Queen of Heaven.

Question – What Marian devotion will you incorporate into your time of prayer during this month which is traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary? What new insights about May as “Mary’s month” have you taken away from reading Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem?



May 4th, 2016 |