In the Catholic Church, May is traditionally dedicated to Mary. The new life and beauty that surround us at this time of year lend themselves to reflection on the woman who brought Jesus into the world and accompanied him through his earthly life – his Passion and Death – and on into his Risen Life. She is seen as the perfect disciple and, during this period after Easter, it is good to reflect on what that means – and how she continues to inspire the Church today. Here are some ideas that you might like to explore.
- Look at the Rosary as the Journey Mary and Jesus took from the Annunciation to the Crowning of Mary in heaven. Look at the underpinning Scripture accounts (not necessarily at length!) and invite reflection on how deeply involved Mary was in Jesus’ upbringing and his preparation for his mission.
- Pray one or more of the Glorious Mysteries. One way of doing this is to pray the decade using the first half of the Hail Mary and substitute a verse from the relevant Scripture for the second half. For example, for the Resurrection:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. (Luke 23: 55) You will have to spend a little time dividing the account into ten parts but it is possible to buy Scripture Rosary books which can help!
- Make a Marian pilgrimage. This could be to a Marian shrine such as the one at Jesmond (or, possibly, plan one further afield). Or it could simply be a walk in the countryside praying decades of the Rosary along the way and noticing the beauty unfolding around you. It might be possible, if your parish has a grotto or space for you to create your own shrine, to go “maying”, bringing a few branches coming into new leaf or blossom and flowers to decorate it for a short Marian service using the Rosary – Scripture events that speak of Mary – or Evening Prayer of the Church with the Magnificat.
- Reflect on Mary as a woman who was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit – from the moment of her conception through to her Assumption and life with her Son in heaven. Think about her insights as she prayed with the disciples as they were filled with the power of the Spirit and how she might have helped them to trust the experience and so go out of the upper room and out into the streets to begin the spreading of the Good News to the world.
- Use Pope Francis’ prayer at the end of Evangelii Gaudium. Look at how it reflects the life and mission of Mary – a mission that is ongoing…
Mary, Virgin and Mother, you who, moved by the Holy Spirit, welcomed the word of life in the depths of your humble faith: as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One, help us to say our own “yes” to the urgent call, as pressing as ever, to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Filled with Christ’s presence, you brought joy to John the Baptist, making him exult in the womb of his mother. Brimming over with joy, you sang of the great things done by God. Standing at the foot of the cross with unyielding faith, you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection, and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit so that the evangelizing Church might be born. Obtain for us now a new ardour born of the resurrection, that we may bring to all the Gospel of life which triumphs over death. Give us a holy courage to seek new paths, that the gift of unfading beauty may reach every man and woman. Virgin of listening and contemplation, Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast, pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are, that she may never be closed in on herself or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom. Star of the new evangelization, help us to bear radiant witness to communion, service, ardent and generous faith, justice and love of the poor, that the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world. Mother of the living Gospel, wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones, pray for us. Amen. Alleluia!