May, the month of our beautiful Mother

Mary stands before us as a reminder that there is more to life — even Christian life — than progress and effort. She was made beautiful by the gift of God’s grace, and we, too, are called to be beautified by His love.

By Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC

Every Sunday, my Dad required us to pray the Rosary together as a family. He removed the TV from the center of the living room and placed a statue of Our Lady of Fatima there.

At the time, I found the Rosary boring, as I hadn’t yet learned how to enjoy prayer. Having lost my mother when I was 2 years old, however, the presence of Mary in the home left an impact upon my heart. She was the only woman in the house, and I drew near to her over the years for motherly affection and support.

Dad taught me never to leave home without a Rosary in my pocket. Over the years, the devotion grew on me, not as a prayer to “say” but as a reminder of her maternal presence in my life.

Month of Mothers
Similarly, the month of May — often filled with devotions to Mary — is a time to remember her silent but tender presence in our lives as Christians. While I could recommend praying the Rosary daily or reciting the Litany of Loreto daily, I would encourage you above all to remember her presence in your life and speak to her heart to heart. She is mother, and mothers above all desire time and presence from their children, to love them and listen to them.

May has been a month particularly dedicated to Mary since the 1300s, as it marks when spring is in full swing. One title of Our Lady is Tota Pulchra, drawing from the Latin version of Song of Songs 4:7: “You are beautiful in every way, my friend, there is no flaw in you!” This line hints at her Immaculate Conception, for she was conceived without sin. But the absence of flaws means that she was beautiful “in every way.”

Spring reveals this beauty in a visible manner, and the changing of the seasons reminds us that the Father desires us to grow in the beauty of holiness.

Beauty and hope
As we gaze upon nature awakening anew to life, we are reminded of Christ risen from the dead, and we see the beauty for which the Father has destined us. Flowers remind us that there is a purpose to life beyond the practical: Beauty heals us of our utilitarian way of life, where everything is reduced to productivity, money, and power. 

So, too, Mary stands before us as a reminder that there is more to life — even Christian life — than progress and effort. She was made beautiful by the gift of God’s grace, and we, too, are called to be beautified by His love.

My favorite icon and title is “Our Lady of Hope” (pictured above), which derives from apparitions of Mary in Pontmain, France in 1871. The small town was under imminent threat from the invading Prussians, but Our Lady appeared to encourage the townspeople to persevere in prayer. The Prussians never arrived in Pontmain.

Mary’s simple message — inscribed upon a ribbon above her Crucified Son — was clear: Jesus will not abandon you if you persevere.

Wait and persevere
Spring is a natural reminder that there is always hope, despite the upheavals and difficulties of life. Winter reminds us that there is a place for death in life; it is part of the Father’s plan for us. But after the sleep of long months of cold, life returns, if only we wait.

Our Lady of Hope teaches us not only to wait, but to persevere in active prayer and hope as we do so. We all need May to help us see that beauty — not death — has the last word.

Jesus stated that not even Solomon was clothed like the lily of the field (see Mt 6:29). But Jesus continues: If the Father provides so much beauty for a flower, how much more will He provide for us, His beloved children? We see in Mary the extent to which He will go: He will make us “all beautiful,” without any flaw. 

Saint Thomas Aquinas states that one soul in sanctifying grace is more beautiful, more glorious than all of creation. Gazing upon spring, we see an image of the beauty of grace at work in our hearts and lives, if only we consent as did Mary.

Our Lady of Hope, pray for us!


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