Mary Month Of May
Not so many years ago, a little girl had come of the age to take her turn at pasturing the sheep that her family owned. Her two little cousins, whom she had played with every day until this time, sought permission from their parents to allow them to go with her. Having received permission, the three would meet every morning. After choosing together a good place, they set out to pasture the flock. One day, as they were shepherding their flock in one of their favorite fields, they saw what seemed to be lightning, so they decided that they should try to get the flock home before it began to rain. As they made their way down a slope, hurrying the flock toward a road that would lead them home, they only went a short distance when there was another flash of light. When they looked up they saw before them a Lady dressed all in white. "She was more brilliant than the sun, and radiated a light more clear and more intense than a crystal filled with sparkling water, when the rays of the burning sun shine through it." Astounded, they stopped. Their life was never the same. This occurred on the May 13, 1917, in a small village called Fatima, in Portugal. The Blessed Mother would come to visit Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco every 13th of the month for six months to give these little children, in this little known place, a message for the world.
What was the message that Our Lady gave those children? It is a message of conversion. She calls the world to turn back to God, be reconciled, and reform our lives according to the Gospel. To accomplish this she calls us to turn to the Sacraments, prayer, and penance. She said that by these practices we can make reparation for the offenses committed against the Heart of Jesus and her own Immaculate Heart.
In this month of May, one of the months dedicated to Our Blessed Mother, we can renew our devotion to the Mother of Our Savior in several ways. Three of the greatest devotions we can have to the Queen of Heaven, who always points to her Son, are the daily recitation of the Rosary, devotion to her Immaculate Heart, and consecration to Mary according to the formula as found in True Devotion to Mary, by St. Louis De Montfort. This is the formula used by our current Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.
The Rosary is one of the most powerful prayers of the Church. From the time of the early Church the Rosary was always prayed in some form or another. The basic form that we have today was given to the Church in an apparition to St. Dominic in 1214. Our Lady revealed to him that the Rosary is the "weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world". The Rosary is powerful because it is like praying the Gospel. Consider the prayers of the Rosary: The "Our Father" was given by Christ himself when asked by his disciples how we are to pray. The "Hail Mary" contains the very words of the Gospel accounts of the Annunciation and the Visitation from Luke’s Gospel .We then have the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary that recount the great mysteries of our redemption in Christ. Being the greatest Scriptural prayer the Church has in her treasury, taken as a whole it is easy to see that it reveals Mary’s place in our lives in relation to Christ. What I mean is that, just like Mary herself, the Rosary points to the Gospel of Christ, leading people to Jesus through the preaching of the Gospel message. The Rosary itself is a sermon! What better way to come to Jesus than through his Mother, who he so honors and loves as to grant her whatever she asks? And it only takes ten to fifteen minutes to pray five mysteries of the Rosary each day! As the prayer of Our Mother, which leads us to her Son, we can see how powerful it is as the Gospel Prayer of the Family.
The devotion to the Immaculate Heart is so rich that it will win our affection for her Heart and the Heart of Jesus. The devotion consists above all in imitating the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Imitation follows intimate knowing, which can be accomplished through the practice of this devotion. The full devotion consists of daily recitation of the Rosary, the consecration mentioned above, and to make reparation for the offenses committed against her Immaculate Heart. This final one is what Our Lady asks of us through those little children at Fatima. Reparation is made by doing penance, going to confession within eight days before or after the First Saturday of every month, receiving the Eucharist on the First Saturday and praying the Rosary with attention that day, all with the intention of making reparation.
Why go through all this? What are the offenses against her Heart? Basically, the offenses committed against her most pure Heart are the same offenses committed against Christ her Son. Because they offend her Heart as well, Christ becomes doubly offended. There is more to this of course, but at its core, that which offends Jesus, offends his Mother.
There is an even more profound reason we practice this devotion. This reason is found in considering a simple question. What heart has ever loved Jesus so intimately, and so purely, and so perfectly as the Immaculate Heart of Mary? In our devotion to her Heart, our heart grows in imitation and comes to love Jesus by the Heart that loved him so well. May we too love Jesus with the Immaculate Love of the Heart of Mary.
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