May is Mary’s month

April 30, 2017

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

“May is Mary’s month, and I muse at that and wonder why.” So begins Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, “The May Magnificat.” It is good for us to wonder also. May crownings, Mother’s Day, the Feast of the Visitation and the abundance of springtime growth all remind us of Mary’s special association with this beautiful time of year.

During the month of May, all creation is bursting with beauty and new life. Perhaps here is the reason that Mary is so easily associated with this season of abundance. May is a reflection of the continuing fruitfulness of Mary’s virginal womb.

Since as early as the second century, Mary has been called the New Eve, a name which means “mother of the living.” Mary is truly more worthy of this name than the first Eve, since in giving birth to Jesus, Mary gave birth to life itself. 

We have received a share in this New Life through Mary, and through the Church of which she is the image and model. Moved by the stirring of grace within us we turn to Mary with the spontaneity of children, who turn to their mother for nurture, for comfort, for help. For us, who are her children, she is indeed, as the centuries-old Marian hymn says, “our life, our sweetness and our hope.”

But, Mary’s deepest maternal concern is to assist the Holy Spirit in bringing her children to the full maturity of Christ. Gently, yet without fail, Mary leads us to Jesus. As she instructed the wine stewards at Cana, so she directs us, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn.2:5). 

From beginning to end, the sinless Virgin Mary remained totally transparent to the working of God’s grace. Her listening heart was ready to respond with the obedience of faith. She was poised to do God’s will. It was never about her. “The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name” (Lk.1:49).

May is a time of extraordinary abundance. Abundance flows in God’s path. Mary teaches us that in order to be filled with God’s abundant life we have to first empty ourselves of all that is not of God. Mary is not only the mother of God, but the first disciple of the child she conceived in her virginal womb: “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk.1:38).