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 first 23 days fall 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). The remainder of the month (beginning the Monday after Pentecost) is in Ordinary Time which is represented by the liturgical color green. This symbol of hope is the color of the sprouting seed and arouses in the faithful the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection.
· 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.
ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER-KENTUCKY DERBY-MAY DAY-
Judges, Chapter 6, Verse 23
The Lord answered him: You are
safe. Do not FEAR. You shall not die.
Unlike Gideon, whom this verse is about, most of us do not have an angel appear from heaven to tell us that we will not die and to not be afraid. Yet, we have something greater than an angel here; we have the Lord Jesus Christ telling us-Do not fear.
We are blessed because we are the receivers of the apex of God’s graces through Jesus Christ, His mother and the action of Divine Mercy. If you are afraid to start again or are discouraged by failure it is because you do not understand you can do nothing without Christ. Therefore, if you have sinned go to confession and receive His Body and Blood: being renewed. I remember in 2006 when I and my wife Mary were blessed with being able to make a trip to Israel. I was reflecting upon the graces I had received. I was thanking the Lord for I had touched the spot on the earth where He was born, and I had touched the spot where He had died, and I had touched the spot where He had ascended into heaven. I was prideful and thought how lucky am I. Then my Lord reminded me that a greater grace still awaits me and everyone in the Holy Eucharist. Be honest, humble yourself and make a sincere effort. Leave all else in His hands-saying: Jesus I Trust in You!
Pride wants immediate success. Be brave as Gideon and renew your intentions, make a resolution daily to do the will of God and seek to please Him.
In December of 1925, Our Lady appeared to Sister Lucia, giving her the following guaranty of salvation for those who complete the First Five Saturdays Devotion:
“I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls."
Why Five Saturdays?
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
1) Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
2) Blasphemies against her virginity
3) Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men
4) Instilling indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children
5) Direct insults against Her sacred images
How to complete the Five First Saturdays Devotion:
On the first Saturday of five consecutive months:
1. Go to confession.
2. Receive Holy Communion.
3. Say five decades of the Rosary.
4. Keep Our Lady company for 15 minutes, meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary.
5. Have the intention of making reparation to Our Lady for the offenses listed above.
St. Joseph the Worker
"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.
The Kentucky Derby is the most popular and oldest horse race in the world. The race is a 1.25-mile long, Grade 1 stakes horse race for three-year-old thoroughbreds on a dirt track. It is held annually at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. The Kentucky Derby, run on the first Saturday in May of every year, is the first leg of the elusive Triple Crown races. It is followed by the Preakness Stakes two weeks later in Baltimore, Maryland and the Belmont Stakes, 3 weeks after the Preakness in Elmont, New York. Meriweather Clark founded the Kentucky Derby, which was first held in 1875. Since then, the Derby has become a day of luxury and fashion and celebrities are often in attendance.
Kentucky Derby Facts & Quotes
· Over 160,000 spectators come to see the Kentucky Derby every year while millions of others watch it on TV.
· In Kentucky, the equine industry generated 3 billion dollars annually and creates 55,000 jobs.
· As of 2015, no woman trainer or jockey has won the Kentucky Derby. Many have run horses and ridden them, but none have won.
· Only 12 horses have ever been able to win the Triple Crown. The most recent was American Pharaoh in 2015. Prior to 2015, the Triple Crown hadn't been won since 1978.
Kentucky Derby Top Events and Things to Do
· Attend the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky. Be careful though, tickets are very expensive and must be purchased far in advance for the event.
· Enjoy a good movie about horses and horse racing. Some of our picks are: The Cup (2011), The First Saturday in May (2007), Racing Stripes (2005), Seabiscuit (2003), The Derby Stallion (2005), Secretariat (2010) and Dreamer (2005).
· Book a horseback riding class at a local stable. Try to get a feel for what it would be like to race that fast.
· Plan a Triple Crown Party. Be sure to send out invitations for the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont. Pick favorite horses and see who wins the home derby. During the celebration it would be a good idea to also pray for the pope who wears the triple crown of the church. The Triple Crown (the tiara) represents the pope's three functions as "supreme pastor", "supreme teacher" and "supreme priest". The gold cross on a monde (globe) surmounting the tiara symbolizes the sovereignty of Jesus.
Animals and the Simple
One day while, Mitch, a Protestant was at the track playing the ponies and all but losing his shirt noticed a Catholic priest who stepped out onto the track and blessed the forehead of one of the horses lining up for the 4th race. Lo and behold, that horse – a very long shot – won the race.
Before the next race, as the horses began lining up, Mitch watched with interest the old priest step onto the track. Sure enough, before the 5th race the horses came to the starting gate. The priest made a blessing on the forehead of one of the horses. Mitch made a beeline for a betting window and placed a small bet on the horse blessed by the priest. Again, even though it was another long shot, the horse the priest had blessed won the race. Mitch collected his winnings, and anxiously waited to see which horse the priest would bless for the 6th race.
The priest again blessed a horse. Mitch bet big on it,
and it won. Mitch was elated. As the races continued the priest kept blessing
long shot horses, and each one ended up coming in first. By and by, Mitch was
pulling in some serious money. By the last race, he knew his wildest dreams
were going to come true. He made a quick dash to the ATM, withdrew all his
savings, and awaited the priest's blessing that would tell him which horse to
bet on. True to his pattern, the priest stepped onto the track for the last
race and blessed the forehead of an old nag that was the longest shot of the
day. Mitch also observed the priest blessing the eyes, ears, and hooves of the
old nag. Mitch knew he had a winner and bet every cent he owned on the old nag.
He then watched dumbfounded as the old nag come in dead last and then dropped
dead. Mitch, in a state of shock, made his way down to the track area where the
priest was. Confronting the old priest, he demanded, 'Father! What happened?
All day long you blessed horses and they all won. Then in the last race, the
horse you blessed lost by a Kentucky mile. Now, thanks to you I've lost every
cent of my savings – all of it!'. The priest nodded wisely and with sympathy.
'Son,' he said, 'that's one of the problems with you Protestants; you can't
tell the difference between a simple blessing and the Sacrament of Last Rites.'
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 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.
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)