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4 May lessons from Mary



Tom Hoopes - published on 05/08/23

The month of May is like an icon of the abundant life Mary teaches.

There are many reasons that May is the month of Mary. But like any mother, she doesn’t just want to make us celebrate — she wants to make us better.

First, Mary teaches us the Risen Life each May.

If Lent is the time to learn how to follow the Suffering Servant, the Easter Season is the time to learn to follow the Risen One — and the only month that is always and entirely within the Easter Season is May.

We often misunderstand the reason for the passion, death, and resurrection, as Father Michael Schmitz pointed out recently in his Catechism in a Year Podcast. Jesus didn’t die and rise to forgive our sins only — he did it to teach us how to live the life God intended for us from the start, the life we spoiled with sin.

Likewise, our baptism isn’t just a baptism into his death, to learn to sacrifice and suffer — it’s a baptism into his resurrection, in order to “have life, and have it more abundantly.”

The Church switches from the angelus to the “Regina Caeli” each Easter to ask, through Mary, for “the joys of everlasting life” because Mary is the best teacher of the Risen Life, and the month of May is like an icon of the abundant life she teaches. Everything that was sparse, drab, and bare bursts with life, just like we should do.

Second, each May, Mary teaches us how to partner with the Holy Spirit.

There is no one who knows the Holy Spirit better than the Blessed Mother. Her relationship with the Holy Spirit began before she was born. It continued in her womb, where Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit.” She brought the Holy Spirit to Elizabeth and the unborn John the Baptist. Later, she gathered the Church together for the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

She brings the Holy Spirit to you and me, also. Mary “is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit,” who always work together.

Michael Pakaluk has noticed what I have always been struck by: “Mothers care deeply that their family is gathered together,” he writes in his book Mary’s Voice in the Gospel According to John. Mary is working right now to gather her family together, with the Holy Spirit, to make the Church what it is meant to be

So it is fitting that May, which is nearly always the month when we begin the Ascension Thursday novena before Pentecost, is dedicated to Mary.

Third, in May, Mary helps renew how we receive the Eucharist.

So, Mary prepares us to live the Risen Life and to unite with the Holy Spirit. If that sounds abstract, it’s not. It’s literally true, because we receive the Risen Christ in the Eucharist, giving us his Risen Life through the Holy Spirit.

And just as no one knows how to receive the Holy Spirit better than Mary, no one knows how to receive Jesus Christ better than Mary.

in the remarkable sixth chapter of his encyclical on the Eucharist, St. John Paul II calls Mary “Woman of the Eucharist” and recommends the “School of Mary” to learn true devotion to the Sacrament.

Mary “lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist,” he says, then adds: “For Mary, receiving the Eucharist must have somehow meant welcoming once more into her womb that heart which had beat in unison with hers.”

May, the most common month for First Holy Communions, is a great time to imitate her.

Fourth, May is the month of Our Lady Queen of the Angels.

One of my favorite feast days is Our Lady Queen of the Angels, May 31. It’s as if the whole month culminates in that celebration. 

Bishop Robert Barron spoke powerfully of Mary under this title in Los Angeles. He pointed out that angels terrify people, but “Mary is a warrior queen of an army of angels” and is “more powerful than anything that is in the world or outside the world.”

That makes May a great month to pray for decisive victories against the unique evils of our time — consumerism and socialism, pornography and human trafficking, terrorism and authoritarianism.

A great aid in this is the Chaplet to Our Lady Queen of the Angels, which paints a picture of this powerful queen using passages from Scripture.

It’s a great reminder of what we are saying with our May Crowning ceremonies: We are honoring the queen who commands hosts of angels to come to the Church’s aid.

Holy SpiritVirgin Mary
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