By Sister Marietta Wethington
May is such a lovely month. A walk outside helps us to rejoice in nature’s beauty – the flowering bushes, the leafing trees and the green grass sprinkled with purple and white violets. Franciscan Father Richard Rohr calls nature God’s first bible and urges us to sit with the first bible before we sit with the second bible of the printed word. Is there any wonder that we sing, “All the earth proclaims the Lord; sing your praise to God?”
I also have lovely memories of May from my childhood. Each May, with the help of our mother, my siblings and I set up what we called a May altar in our house. We brought a small table into our living room and placed a picture or a statue of Mary on it. Then we went outside and picked whatever flowers were blooming, brought them in and made a bouquet for our May altar. In the evening we gathered around the altar to pray the family rosary.
I loved the yearly May procession that was a practice in our parish. The children who made their First Communion that year dressed in their First Communion outfits. I loved my white dress and veil. The older children dressed in their “Sunday best.” We all went to church in the evening, usually the evening of Mother’s Day and processed around the church. Sometimes we even went outside. We ended up at the statue of Mary and placed on her head a crown of live flowers. One year was particularly exciting for me because I was selected to carry the crown.
Yes, Mary was an important part of my childhood.
I thought of Mary as an impeccable woman – a woman without sin. I believed Mary had no struggles. Everything was easy for her. Life was wonderful in her home at Nazareth.
As an adult my thinking of Mary has changed. Everything was not always easy. I believe when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced that God had chosen her to be the mother of his son, the savior of the world, she was scared. Isn’t that the natural response of a 15-year-old? I don’t think her “Be it done unto me according to your word” came instantly. I think she had to struggle with the message. By praying with that passage in Luke’s gospel I’ve been able to bring Mary off that pedestal I had her on as a child and make her more real. She was a mother, a wife, a housekeeper like so many women throughout the ages. I think she was very good in all those roles and worked hard to be the handmaid of the Lord who allowed God to use her as an important part of our salvation history.
Yes, Mary continues to be an important part of my life. I know I can go to her and she will intercede for me with Jesus.
How does your adult image of Mary differ from your childhood image of her?
How does Mary inspire you to proclaim God in your everyday life?
Do you have any special practices for the month of May?