May: Blessed Virgin Mary’s Month

The month of May has long been dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. While most Catholics know this, many are quite unsure of why of all months the month of May was chosen for this special honor. If you are one of those that wonder, let me share what I know with you.

According to Church scholars, the month of May was chosen to be the month for Our Blessed Lady because of the fact that this month is recognized as the season of the beginning of new life. In the Roman culture, the month of May was when the winter comes to an end and the spring season begins, marking a new beginning and a new birth to Mother Earth. Being the Lady that brought new life to humanity by giving birth to our Savior Jesus Christ, it was realized that the month of May suited the Blessed Virgin perfectly.

To give you some ideas about what we can do to honor Our Lady this Marian month, here are a list of recommended practices from the Magisterium:

  • The Regina Coeli
  • The Rosary
  • Litanies of the Blessed Virgin Mary
  • Consecration and Entrustment to Mary
  • The Brown Scapular and other Scapulars
  • Medals
  • The “Akathistos” Hymn

Faith, Humility, and Trust are Reoccurring Themes in Biblical Stories

It seems like in nearly every Biblical story where an angel appears to a human, the first thing they say is, “Do not be afraid!”. The more I thought about that, the more it made sense that I would totally need some reassuring in a situation like that. The angel has a message to pass along in most instances as well. Often the message is something that the individual at first finds crazy, but shows faith in. Their faith is later rewarded obviously because that tends to be how God does things.

I share this thought because I read a post this morning titled, “Speaking With an Angel Requires Faith, Humility, Trust”. The post spoke about instances where angels have appeared to humans. It is a truly humbling experience because of the sheer magnitude of what is occurring. Often faith and trust are big elements of these stories too because of the message being sent through these angels by God. The post talks about Mary, Joseph, and Zechariah and their own personal experiences with angels and God. The post is beautiful and you should check it out.

Lessons From the Bible: The Birth of Christ Can Teach Us A Lot

If you know the story of how Jesus Christ was born, you know how he was born in poverty. Mary and Joseph were traveling desperately searching for a place where she could have the Son of God.
Every single place they went, there was no room for them. They were at a loss. Where would they have this child?

That was until they knocked on the door of one inn. The man told them he had no room for them, however, they were more than welcome to use an outside area. When Jesus was born, Mary and Jesus laid him in a manger made of straw. They were overjoyed with the new baby boy God had given them.

How Jesus’ Birth Shows the Spirit of Poverty

Mary and Joseph couldn’t have been happier that blessed day Jesus was born. They didn’t need a fancy room, nice warm blankets, or any other accommodations. They had everything they needed. God provided for them.

Think about this – you are about to give birth to a child with no place to go. You must make due with whatever you have around you. It’s not perfect, but it will work. When that child is born, nothing around you matters, all that matters is you have a brand new baby boy you love tremendously.

If you’re able to imagine that, you are able to see how Mary and Joseph felt. They were poor in the things they had but they were not poor in the love they had.
So what matters more? The things you have or the people you have around you? Appreciating what you have and realizing you don’t really need anything but what God believes you need will help you understand the spirit of poverty. When you are poor, you are able to see what really matters.

How to Use this Teaching in Your Life

Think about all of the modern conveniences you have and then imagine if they were gone. Think about how different your life would be and what you would have to do to compensate for the loss of those things. However, while this exercise can be effective, it may not be possible to truly feel poverty until you are poor. It’s hard for people to appreciate things when they aren’t really gone. It’s hard for them to see what truly matters when they are clouded by all the things around them.

It’s good to know though if there was ever a time when you don’t have as much as you have now, you can have faith in God that he will provide you with whatever you need. He always knows what you need before you even ask for it. Having that faith and believing in God’s guidance will help you in troubling times. It will help you see that you don’t really need all the things around you – all you need are the people you love and basic living essentials. Take a moment now to appreciate what you have and thank God. Try to see what really matters as you reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ. With this, you can grow stronger in faith.

Learning Obedience: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

One of the many lessons we can learn from Mary, Mother of Jesus is obedience. She has taught us that Catholics need to follow the laws of the church. These laws keep us pure. They help us stay true to our faith and to God’s Word.

How Mary Shows Obedience with the Presentation of Jesus

Forty days after Mary gave birth, she took Jesus to the temple. This was for two purposes: ritual purification and redemption of the first born son.
Ritual purification was written in the Laws of Moses. After a woman gives birth, she is viewed as unclean due to the connection she had with bodily fluids. Going to the church within forty days of giving birth would purify a woman.
Redemption of the first born son was also written in the Laws of Moses. Back then, when a male was born naturally (meaning not through cesarean section), she would have to sacrifice a lamb to the church. However, since Mary and Joseph were poor people, they were able to sacrifice the alternative, which were two turtledoves or young pigeons.

How Mary Teaches Us Obedience
Mary and Joseph knew that it was right to obey the Laws of Moses. They believed that it was important to follow through with these codes of conduct.
When we see Mary do exactly as stated in the Laws of Moses, it teaches us that we need to follow the same type of rules. We shouldn’t dismiss what we have been told is important by the church. We need to abide by them just as Mary did.

How Catholics Can Be Obedient According to the Teachings of the Church

Catholics continue to follow the teachings of the church as closely as possible. The unfortunate thing is that many Catholics don’t know all of the laws and thus don’t follow them due to this ignorance.

Attending Mass to listen to the gospel and homily given by the priest is a great way to remind yourself of what you as a Catholic should do daily to follow the teachings of the church. It’s also important to read the Bible. As the bible gives us a lot of the rules that Christians should follow in their life.

Finally, if you are ever unsure of what to do in life, you can always seek guidance from your priest. A priest is a counselor and coach. He can help you come to understand what is expected of you as a Christian. He can help you understand why life has turned one way instead of another way. He can also answer your questions about what you should do in difficult situations and still be in accordance with God’s Word.

So, follow Mary’s example. Understand the rules of the church by going to Mass and read the Bible. Whenever you have questions seek counsel from your priest and always turn to prayer when you just need comfort from God. This all God wants of you, to acknowledge Him and to follow Him – just as Mary did.

Feast of the Nativity

This article from A Nun’s Life was a great one about Mary from yesterday’s Feast of the Nativity. If you would like to check out the full version of the article please, click here. Mary is one of the most important figures of the Catholic Church and we should all try a little harder to remember her in our daily lives. Hopefully yesterday you said a quick prayer to her in remembrance of the Feast of the Nativity. If you didn’t then you should take some time right now to do that!

“Today we celebrate the birth of Mary. Although scripture says nothing about the circumstances of her birth, it is rich in stories about her adult life. The stories are the source of lots of images and titles for Mary. One of the best known is Theotokos, the God-Bearer.

I love this particular image of Mary and what it symbolizes. For Mary, “God-bearing” wasn’t a one-time event. It didn’t end when Jesus was born. Mary witnessed to God’s goodness and kindness with her whole life. Scripture tells of many times when Mary stepped in to help others, sometimes asking her son to lend a hand too, as in the wedding feast at Cana. She cared for the people in her life and was a faithful friend, mother, and wife. To me, the image of Mary as God-Bearer reminds me that we all have the capacity to be “God-bearers” through the compassion and love we extend to others. So, my birthday gift to Mary is the extra special attention I’ll give to being the best God-bearer I can today.

What images of Mary have special meaning for you? How will you celebrate Mary’s birthday?” – “Feast of the Nativity of Mary”, A Nun’s Life

History of the Miraculous Medal

Saint Catherine Laboure was shown the plannings for the Miraculous Medal, also called the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, through one of the many holy visions that she had a on regular basis. The particular vision that brought the world the Miraculous Medal took place in Paris, France in the year 1830.

The visions that Saint Catherine saw on such a frequent basis were typically of different saints or of God. She even sometimes saw Jesus, but that was on a less regular basis than the other visions she received. In 1830, Saint Catherine saw Mary for the very first time though and this is the vision that brought us the Miraculous Medal.

The Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Catherine with a white sphere at her feet and a hand covered in rings made of beautiful jewels. These jewels were shining extraordinarily bright and it was truly a sight to see. Mary talked to Catherine saying that the shining lights were all the people who had asked Mary for help through prayer. Mary said that those who asked her for help would receive the grace they needed to be successful in their endeavors. However, some of the stones seemed to not be shining, and Mary explained the reason behind this. She told Catherine that all the people in the world who were suffering and not asking Mary for grace or help were represented by the jewels that were dull and not shining at all. An oval of bright light then encompassed Mary and lettering appeared in the air underneath her. It said, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you”. Mary made sure to state to Catherine that she wished for a medal to be made in this image that Catherine had in front of her. Mary’s intentions were that people would be reminded by the medal to pray to her and ask her for grace.

The Virgin Mary then disappeared and Catherine was left by her lonesome. Catherine saw an image on a table in the room though, and she quickly hurried over to see it. On the table she saw a large M with a cross through it, and below that there were two hearts. These two hearts are the hearts of Jesus and his mother Mary. This image is where the backside of the Miraculous Medal comes from.

Mary wanted herself in the image that she chose to be on the front side of the medal because she just wanted to have a way to get more people to pray to her and ask for grace. Mary just wanted to help people live their lives with as much grace and dignity as possible.

Saint Catherine did just as Mary instructed her to do. She had the medal made with the back as what she saw after Mary had departed, and the front as the image of Mary she had ingrained into her mind. The medal began being sold to the masses and more people became mindful of praying to Mary.

Pope Pius XII found it fitting that Catherine be canonized for bringing the Miraculous Medal to everybody. This took place in July of 1947.