Flowers in Mary's month tie us closely to the reawakening earth. The time of Resurrection and expectant Pentecost is one of buds, blossoms, wildflowers, and greening of meadows and lawns. Days lengthen and we welcome the warmth of the sun after the long winter. Jesus is risen and is present in our midst, and so we rise and ascend with him.
Overview of May
The month of May is dedicated to The Blessed Virgin Mary.
The entire month falls within the liturgical season of Easter, which is represented by the liturgical color white — the color of light, a symbol of joy, purity and innocence (absolute or restored). As Spring blossoms forth and we are surrounded by new life, we spend this month full of the joy of our Easter celebration and in anticipation of the coming of the Holy Spirit, our Consoler and Advocate.
· The world is resplendent with Spring's increased light and new growth. It is Mary’s month in the Easter season and all of nature rejoices with the Queen of heaven at the Resurrection of the Son she was worthy to bear. During the remainder of Easter time, let us endeavor through the prayers of the Holy Liturgy and the Holy Rosary to deepen our gratitude for the mystery of our Baptismal rebirth in Christ.
· "The month of May, with its profusion of blooms was adopted by the Church in the eighteenth century as a celebration of the flowering of Mary's maidenly spirituality, with its origins in Isaiah's prophecy of the Virgin birth of the Messiah under the figure of the Blossoming Rod or Root of Jesse, the flower symbolism of Mary was extended by the Church Fathers, and in the liturgy, by applying to her the flower figures of the Sapiential Books-Canticles, Wisdom, Proverbs and Sirach.
· "In the medieval period, the rose was adopted as the flower symbol of the Virgin Birth, as expressed in Dante's phrase, 'The Rose wherein the Divine Word was made flesh,' and depicted in the central rose windows of the great gothic cathedrals-from which came the Christmas carol, 'Lo, How a Rose 'ere Blooming.' Also, in the medieval period, when monasteries were the centers of horticultural and agricultural knowledge, and with the spread of the Fransiscan love of nature, the actual flowers themselves, of the fields, waysides and gardens, came to be seen as symbols of Mary…" – John S. Stokes
· Pentecost, the birth of the Church, is also among the celebrations of May. Though sprung from the side of Christ on the Cross, the Church marks as her birthday the descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles. At the 'birth' of the world, the Holy Spirit — the Breath of God — was the "mighty wind [that] swept over the waters" (Gen 1:2); at the birth of the Church He is present again "like the rush of a mighty wind" to recreate the world in the image of Christ through His Church (Acts 2:2).
We, the members of Christ’s Mystical Body, are the present-day disciples sent by the Holy Spirit to bring Christ to the world. May we go forth as did Mary, who set out in haste to assist St. Elizabeth (feast of the Visitation, May 31). Come upon us, O Holy Spirit, so that, with Mary, we may proclaim the greatness of the Lord who has done great things for us — for his mercy endures forever!
It is a very old tradition to make pilgrimages during the month of May to shrines dedicated to Mary. Although this author is writing about the country of England, even in America there are shrines, basilicas, cathedrals or churches that one can visit in a pilgrimage.
Renewing the Consecration of the United States to the Care of Our Blessed Mother
As the world continues to face the ongoing effects of the global pandemic of the coronavirus, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the USCCB has announced that the U.S. bishops will join the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops on May 1 in renewing the consecrations of the two nations to the care of our Blessed Mother.
Through a collective dedication or entrustment of a nation to Mary, an act of consecration is meant to be a reminder to the faithful of the Blessed Mother’s witness to the Gospel and to ask for her effective intercession before her Son on behalf of those in need.
The consecration on May 1. . . follows a similar action of the bishops’ conference of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM) who consecrated their nations to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Easter Sunday. This prayer reaffirms and renews previous Marian entrustments, and it unites us in solidarity with our Holy Father, who recently established the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, as a source of protection and strength.
Archbishop Gomez will lead a brief liturgy with the prayer of re-consecration on Friday, May 1 at 3:00 pm EDT and has invited the bishops to join in from their respective dioceses and asked them to extend the invitation to the faithful in their dioceses for their participation. A liturgy guide will be available to assist the faithful who may join in by tuning into the USCCB’s social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. . . .
MAY 1 First Friday
ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER-MAY DAY
Jeremiah, Chapter 10, Verse 5-7
5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field are they, they cannot speak; They must be carried about, for they cannot walk. Do not FEAR them, they can do no harm, neither can they do good. 6 No one is like you, LORD, you are great, great and mighty is your name. 7 Who would not FEAR you, King of the nations, for it is your due! Among all the wisest of the nations, and in all their domains, there is none like you.
Our idols are not real they are like scarecrows appearing real but are not. Yet, even in our foolishness the Lord our God calls us to His service. This is the message of St. Therese of Lisieux that we are all called, and we should have great confidence and humility seeking to bring the kingdom in small ways and asking our Lord to multiply our efforts. The greatest way we can bring about the Kingdom is in our own families. This is the reason Pope Francis made such efforts to attend the family symposium in Philadelphia in 2015.
Yes, families are under attack from a secular world, a media that continually pushes instant gratification and sensuality and of course Satan and his followers.
The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid because Our Lady has already crushed his head and anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way. (Sister Lucia of Fatima)
Our Lord will not abandon us and tells us to trust in him.
Entrust everything to Me and do nothing on your own, and you will always have great freedom of spirit. No circumstances or events will ever be able to upset you. Set little store on what people say. Let everyone judge you as they like. Do not make excuses for yourself, it will do you no harm. (Diary of Sister Faustina, 1685)
The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus . . . which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins." To those who show him love and who make reparation for sins, however, our Lord made a great pledge: "I promise you in the unfathomable mercy of my heart that my omnipotent love will procure the grace of final penitence for all those who receive communion on nine successive first Fridays of the month; they will not die in my disfavor, or without having received the sacraments, since my divine heart will be their sure refuge in the last moments of their life."
To gain this grace, we must:
· Receive Holy Communion on nine consecutive first Fridays.
· Have the intention of honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of reaching final perseverance.
· Offer each Holy Communion as an act of atonement for offenses against the Blessed Sacrament.
The fullness of God is revealed and given to us in Christ, in the love of Christ, in Christ's heart. For it is the heart of him in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." Were one to lose sight of this great plan of God-the overflow of love in the world through the Incarnation, the Redemption and Pentecost-he could not understand the refinement with which our Lord deals with us. So, when we talk about the heart of Jesus, we stress the certainty of God's love and the truth of his commitment to us. When we recommend devotion to the Sacred Heart, we are recommending that we should give our whole selves to Jesus, to the whole Jesus-our souls, our feelings and thoughts, our words and actions, our joys. That is what true devotion to the heart of Jesus means. It is knowing God and ourselves. It is looking at Jesus and turning to him, letting him encourage and teach and guide us. The only difficulty that could beset this devotion would be our own failure to understand the reality of an incarnate God. But note that God does not say: "In exchange for your own heart, I will give you a will of pure spirit." No, he gives us a heart, a human heart, like Christ's. I don't have one heart for loving God and another for loving people. I love Christ and the Father and the Holy Spirit and our Lady with the same heart with which I love my parents and my friends. I shall never tire of repeating this. We must be very human, for otherwise we cannot be divine. . .. If we don't learn from Jesus, we will never love. If, like some people, we were to think that to keep a clean heart, a heart worthy of God, means "not mixing it up, not contaminating it" with human affection, we would become insensitive to other people's pain and sorrow. We would be capable of only an "official charity," something dry and soulless. But ours would not be the true charity of Jesus Christ, which involves affection and human warmth. In saying this, I am not supporting the mistaken theories-pitiful excuses-that misdirect hearts away from God and lead them into occasions of sin and perdition. . .. But I have still a further consideration to put before you. We have to fight vigorously to do good, precisely because it is difficult for us to resolve seriously to be just, and there is a long way to go before human relations are inspired by love and not hatred or indifference. We should also be aware that, even if we achieve a reasonable distribution of wealth and a harmonious organization of society, there will still be the suffering of illness, of misunderstanding, of loneliness, of the death of loved ones, of the experience of our own limitations. Faced with the weight of all this, a Christian can find only one genuine answer, a definitive answer: Christ on the cross, a God who suffers and dies, a God who gives us his heart opened by a lance for the love of us all. Our Lord abominates injustice and condemns those who commit it. But he respects the freedom of each individual. He permits injustice to happen because, as a result of original sin, it is part and parcel of the human condition. Yet his heart is full of love for men. Our suffering, our sadness, our anguish, our hunger and thirst for justice . . . he took all these tortures on himself by means of the cross. . .. Suffering is part of God's plans. This is the truth; however difficult it may be for us to understand it. It was difficult for Jesus Christ the man to undergo his passion: "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done." In this tension of pleading and acceptance of the Father's will, Jesus goes calmly to his death, pardoning those who crucify him. This supernatural acceptance of suffering was, precisely, the greatest of all conquests. By dying on the cross, Jesus overcame death. God brings life from death. The attitude of a child of God is not one of resignation to a possibly tragic fate; it is the sense of achievement of someone who has a foretaste of victory. In the name of this victorious love of Christ, we Christians should go out into the world to be sowers of peace and joy through everything we say and do. We have to fight-a fight of peace-against evil, against injustice, against sin. Thus, do we serve notice that the present condition of mankind is not definitive. Only the love of God, shown in the heart of Christ, will attain our glorious spiritual triumph. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is of great antiquity in the Church. It was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, however, who made this devotion widespread. In 1675, within the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi, our Lord appeared to her and said: "Behold this heart which, notwithstanding the burning love for men with which it is consumed and exhausted, meets with no other return from most Christians than sacrilege, contempt, indifference and ingratitude, even in the sacrament of my love [the Eucharist]. But what pierces my heart most deeply is that I am subjected to these insults by persons especially consecrated to my service." The great promise of the Sacred Heart is most consoling: the grace of final perseverance and the joy of having Jesus' heart as our sure refuge and Infinite Ocean of mercy in our last hour. Almighty and everlasting God look upon the heart of your well-beloved Son and upon the praise and satisfaction which he offers to you in the name of all sinners; and grant them pardon when they seek your mercy. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever.
1. Love is revealed to us in the Incarnation, the redemptive journey which Jesus Christ made on our earth, culminating in the supreme sacrifice of the cross. And on the cross, it showed itself through a new sign: "One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water." This water and blood of Jesus speak to us of a self-sacrifice brought to the last extreme: "It is finished"-everything is achieved, for the sake of love. . .
2. Let us realize all the richness hidden in the words "the Sacred Heart of Jesus." When we speak of a person's heart, we refer not just to his sentiments, but to the whole person in his loving dealings with others. In order to help us understand divine things, Scripture uses the expression "heart" in its full human meaning, as the summary and source, expression and ultimate basis, of one's thoughts, words and actions. One is worth what one's heart is worth.. . .
3. Jesus on the cross, with his heart overflowing with love for us, is such an eloquent commentary on the value of people and things that words only get in the way. Men, their happiness and their lives, are so important that the very Son of God gave himself to redeem and cleanse and raise them up. "Who will not love this heart so wounded?" a contemplative asks in this connection. "Who will not return love for love? Who will not embrace a heart so pure? We, who are made of flesh, will repay love with love. We will embrace our wounded One, whose hands and feet ungodly men have nailed; we will cling to his side and to his heart. Let us pray that we be worthy of linking our heart with his love and of wounding it with a lance, for it is still hard and impenitent. . .."
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, held on April 27 during the Roman Republic era, and with the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. As Europe became Christianized, the pagan holidays lost their religious character and May Day changed into a popular secular celebration. A significant celebration of May Day occurs in Germany where it is one of several days on which St. Walburga, credited with bringing Christianity to Germany. The secular versions of May Day, observed in Europe and America, may be best known for their traditions of dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of "May baskets," small baskets of sweets or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors’ doorsteps. Since the 18th century, many Roman Catholics have observed May – and May Day – with various May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary's head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning. May 1 is also one of two feast days of the Catholic patron saint of workers St Joseph the Worker, a carpenter, husband to Mother Mary, and surrogate father of Jesus. Replacing another feast to St. Joseph, this date was chosen by Pope Pius XII in 1955 as a counterpoint to the Communist International Workers Day celebrations on May Day.
May Day Facts & Quotes
· Roman Catholics celebrate May as Mary's month, and May Day is celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
· May Day is also recognized as International Worker's Day, or Labor Day. This day commemorates workers’ rights and the labor movement. One popular cause that this day commemorates is the eight-hour workday.
· During the Haymarket Affair of 1886, more than a dozen people were killed after a 3-day strike and rally. US Labor Unions had agreed upon a general nationwide strike on May 1, 1886 in support of an eight-hour workday. One such rally, held outside the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, Chicago, Illinois, became violent when police fired into the crowd of striking workers. Outraged, the worker's organized another rally the next day at Haymarket Square. The rally became violent when a bomb was thrown into a crowd of police. Seven officers were killed. A very public trial ensued which ended in the public hanging of four anarchists.
· In France, it is customary to give a sweet-smelling flower called the spring of lily of the valley (a symbol of springtime) on May 1st. The tradition started in 1561 when King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm.
· All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. – Martin Luther King Jr.
May Day Top Events and Things to Do
· Dance around a Maypole. Decorate a tall pole with garlands of flowers and ribbons. Have a group of friends each take a ribbon and dance around the pole, interweaving the ribbons to form a braided affect. The braid can be undone by retracing one's steps.
· Have a picnic outdoors in the sunshine.
· Attend a May Day Festival.
· Visit a local fresh air market.
· Watch a film relating to worker’s rights. Our favorite films on the topic:
1) The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
2) Office Space (1999)
3) Caesar Chavez (2014)
"May Day" has long been dedicated to labor and the working man. It falls on the first day of the month that is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Pius XII expressed the hope that this feast would accentuate the dignity of labor and would bring a spiritual dimension to labor unions. It is eminently fitting that St. Joseph, a working man who became the foster-father of Christ and patron of the universal Church, should be honored on this day. The feast of St. Joseph the Worker was established by Pope Pius XII in 1955 in order to Christianize the concept of labor and give to all workmen a model and a protector. By the daily labor in his shop, offered to God with patience and joy, St. Joseph provided for the necessities of his holy spouse and of the Incarnate Son of God, and thus became an example to all laborers. "Workmen and all those laboring in conditions of poverty will have reasons to rejoice rather than grieve, since they have in common with the Holy Family daily preoccupations and cares"(Leo XIII).
Things to Do
· May 1 is celebrated in Communist countries as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers. Today would be a good day to pray for atheistic Communism's influence to cease and a proper application of the principles explained by Leo XIII in Rerum novarum and John Paul II in Centesimus annus to be the guide used by nations.