During the month of May, we turn to Mary more intentionally to honor her and ask for her special intercession. And during these pandemic times, most specially, her help is greatly needed.
Although John’s Gospel is the only one that places Mary at the foot of the cross during Christ’s crucifixion, turning to Our Mother of Sorrows, or Mater Dolorosa, makes sense because we know that through Mary’s own suffering she understands our pain and empathizes with our grief.
Included in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1124), is a phrase from a fifth century Christian Writer: lex orandi, lex credendi, which translates “the law of praying is the law of believing.” In other words, continuous and unceasing prayer strengthens our faith and gives witness to our belief. It is no surprise then that during our world’s greatest trials, our faith leaders turn to Mary, our Mother. In the 16th century, Pope Pius V prayed to Our Lady to stop a plague that had broken out in Rome. He also prayed for Our Lady’s intercession in a battle against the Turkish Fleet. Pope Gregory XVI prayed to Our Blessed Mother when cholera broke out in Rome in 1837. In 1917, Benedict XV asked for Mary’s intervention to stop WWI, and Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during WWII. Pope John Paul II believed it was the intervention of Our Lady of Fatima who saved him from an assassin’s bullet in 1981.
Most recently, Pope Francis turned to Mary on March 11 during the rise of the coronavirus pandemic, for protection for Italy and the world:
you always shine on our path
as a sign of salvation and of hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm.
You, Salvation of the Roman People,
know what we need,
and we are sure you will provide
so that, as in Cana of Galilee,
we may return to joy and to feasting
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform to the will of the Father
and to do as we are told by Jesus,
who has taken upon himself our sufferings
and carried our sorrows
to lead us, through the cross,
to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.
Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin.
And, on April 22, Archbishop José H. Gomez, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference and Archbishop of Los Angeles, invited all U.S. bishops to join him on May 1 in re-consecrating the U.S. to the Blessed Virgin Mary in response to the pandemic. The consecration was to “Mary, Mother of the Church,” a title given to the Blessed Mother by Pope St. Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council. “Every year, the Church seeks the special intercession of the Mother of God during the month of May. This year, we seek the assistance of Our Lady all the more earnestly as we face together the effects of the global pandemic,” Archbishop Gomez said in a letter sent to all U.S. bishops. “This will give the Church the occasion to pray for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell, and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible virus.”
We, too, are asked to offer daily prayers to Mary for her intercession for our own personal needs as well as for a cure for this deadly disease that has paralyzed our nation and the world.
One of the earliest prayers to Our Lady, dating back to the 3rd or 4th century, is the Sub Tuum Praesidium: “We fly to thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.
The Memorare, originally composed in the 11th century, and reached its final form in the 15th century, is similar:
“Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protections, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.”
One of the most well-known prayers to Mary is the Salve Regina, or Hail, Holy Queen. Its origins are not agreed on, but most likely it was written by either Bernard of Clairvaux or Hermann the Lame in the 11th century.
“Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.”
The Angelus, normally prayed three times a day, at 6:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 6:00 PM, also dates back to the 11th century. It is usually accompanied by the ringing of the Angelus bell, and the devotion commemorates the Incarnation.
V/. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,
R/. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.Hail Mary…
V/. Behold the handmaid of the Lord,
R/. Be it done unto me according to your Word.Hail Mary…
V/. And the Word was made flesh,
R/. And dwelt among us.Hail Mary…
V/. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
R/. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts: that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Finally, the Rosary, a scripture-based prayer, focuses on four sets of events in the life of Christ: The Joyful Mysteries, The Sorrowful Mysteries, The Luminous Mysteries, and the Glorious Mysteries. For information on how to pray the rosary, click here:
Every year, during the month of May, St. Michael’s School follows Catholic tradition by celebrating May Crowning, with our second graders and eighth graders leading the school assembly in this honored devotion. Circumstances this year required a bit of creativity, and I encourage you to view our unique virtual celebration. Special thanks to our Second Grade teachers, Mrs. Sellner and Mrs. Enriquez, as well as the second grade students and their parents; our eighth grade religion teacher, Ms. McCready, and our eighth grade students; our music teacher, Mrs. Orona, for providing her musical talents; and most especially to our Director of Communications, Mr. Cazares, for putting it all together. Enjoy.
Mary, Hear Our Prayers.
Virtual May Crowning Celebration