“April showers bring May flowers…” May is traditionally seen as the month where flowers begin to bloom, and spring comes into full-swing. It’s also the month that hosts Mothers’ Day throughout the United States.
In the Catholic Church, May is also known as the, “Month of Mary.” It is a month devoted to Mary, as the Mother of God, and ultimately the model mother, and mother of us all. I’ve always found it fitting that we celebrate Mothers’ Day during a month that also celebrates the Mother of God, but a part of me knows deep down it isn’t coincidental.
Some women have particular devotions to Mary they like to undertake in May. A couple years ago, I accepted the invitation to wear skirts daily, as a devotion to Our Lady. It coincided with the movers coming to move our household goods from Hawaii to Virginia, so I wound up wearing skirts almost daily for two months. Other women pray the Rosary daily during May.
The concept behind the skirt challenge or the daily Rosary recitation is to bring a person closer to Our Lady. Several saints have promised, by having a close relationship with the Madonna, we will be brought closer to her Divine Son, Jesus.
I love reading stories of Our Lady appearing to Christians. However, I struggle to see these stories as more than just that – stories. I try to place myself in the shoes of those receiving apparitions, and as much as I would like to think I am devout Marian Catholic, I struggle to comprehend the visions. I am thankful that the Vatican does not require I believe in her apparitions in order to be a, “Catholic.” Instead, they allow me to maintain my (sometimes) healthy dose of skepticism.
The Catholic Church doesn’t mandate its followers to believe in Marian apparitions. However, the Catholic Church has approved dozens of instances where Mary, after her death, has appeared to Christ’s followers. Some of these Vatican-approved apparitions are famously known among both Catholics and non-Catholics alike, such as Our Lady of Fatima (Portugal, 1917), and Our Lady of Lourdes (France, 1858). Still others are not widely known, such as Our Lady of Knock (Ireland, 1879), Our Lady of Rue de Bac (Paris, 1830), Our Lady of Akita (Japan, 1973), and most recently, Our Lady of Kibeho (Rwanda, 1981).
In thinking of what I can do this Month of Mary, I am considering devoting some time to reading up on some of the lesser-known, Vatican approved apparitions. Or, perhaps I will undertake reading a book on more well-known, Vatican approved apparitions, such as Our Lady of Fatima or Our Lady of Lourdes.
What, if anything, will you be doing to celebrate Mary, the Mother of God during the month of May?