Happy and blessed Mother’s Day! Today we celebrate the gift of motherhood and their selfless nurturing love. We celebrate our own mothers, living and deceased, and we pray for them. Our Seminary community, as well as countless other communities of faith and families, also celebrate our Heavenly Mother by lifting our minds and hearts to honor Our Lady today.
During this Easter Season, we celebrate the fullness of our faith—the Paschal Mystery of Christ; Jesus’ Life, Death, and Resurrection. On the Cross, Jesus gave everything to us, including his mother: “Behold your mother” (John 19:27). Just as Jesus gave the disciple John the gift of His own Mother, He gives us the gift of His Mother also. She nurtures and cares for us as her son’s own beloved disciple, extending to us her motherly love and protection and showing us the true model of Christian love. As we express our appreciation and love to our own mothers this Mother’s Day, Mary models for us the blessings of motherhood with its joys and challenges.
The months of May and October are special months on our liturgical calendar, dedicated to the veneration of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. The month of October each year is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. It was instituted to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary in gratitude for the protection that she gives the Church in answer to the praying of the Rosary by the faithful.
Pope Pius VII in 1815 granted a partial indulgence for participating in either a public or private devotion honoring Mary during the month of May; Pope Pius IX made the indulgence plenary in 1859. (This particular indulgence is no longer listed in the present Enchiridion of Indulgences, although numerous devotions to our Blessed Mother are, such as the recitation of the rosary or the Litany of Mary.)
“May Crowning” is a traditional Catholic ritual that occurs in the month of May, and it recognizes Mary as Queen of heaven and earth. Regarding the crowning, the image of Mary (as well as Jesus) wearing a gold crown is found in the earliest forms of iconography, especially in the Eastern Churches. In the West, the pious practice of publicly crowning an image of the Blessed Mother gained popularity in the 19th century. In Rome, the image known as Salus Populi Romani — of our Blessed Mother holding the Child Jesus — is enshrined at the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
Elizabeth greeted the Blessed Virgin, pregnant with Jesus, as ‘the mother of my Lord’ (Lk 1:41-43). Mary is the perfect follower of Christ. The maid of Nazareth consented to God’s plan; she journeyed on the pilgrimage of faith; she listened to God’s Word and kept it in her heart; she remained steadfast in close union with her Son, all the way to the foot of the Cross; she persevered in prayer with the Church. Thus, in an eminent way she won the “crown of righteousness” (2 Tim 4:8), the “crown of life” (Jas 1:12; Rev 2:10), the “crown of glory” (1 Pet 5:4) that is promised to those who follow Christ.
The Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, to help celebrate the Marian Year declared by Pope St. John Paul II in 1987 to prepare for the new millennium, issued a ritual, Order of Crowning an Image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which captures the significance of this pious practice: “The queen symbol was attributed to Mary because she was a perfect follower of Christ, who is the absolute ‘crown’ of creation. She is the Mother of the Son of God, who is the messianic King. Mary is the Mother of Christ, the Word Incarnate.”
By: Rev. Michael MacInnis, Director of Human Formation
Saint John's Seminary