Thursday, May 1, 2014

"May Magnificat"

Just a brief reminder that the month of May is specially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Stephan Lochner, Madonna in the Rose Bower (1448)
Please spend some time this month thinking about our Lady, honoring her by praying her "Magnificat," her Rosary, or another devotion, such as the Regina Coeli (which replaces the Angelus during Eastertide). I'll revisit this topic in another post later in the month, but for now I'll defer to Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. (1844-89). He poses some timely questions and answers far better than I could:
May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
    Her feasts follow reason,
    Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
    Why fasten that upon her,
    With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
    Is it opportunest
    And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
    Question: What is Spring?—
    Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
    Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
    Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
    And bird and blossom swell
    In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
    With that world of good,
    Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
    How she did in her stored
    Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
    Much, had much to say
    To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
    And thicket and thorp are merry
    With silver-surfèd cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
    And magic cuckoocall
    Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
    To remember and exultation
    In God who was her salvation.


  1. I knew that there was some special Catholic significance to May, but could not remember why until this post. Perhaps we discussed it briefly once, or perhaps I heard somewhere before about May being the month of Mary. But there is something about this latter part of the Easter season which has always seemed powerful to me, and I'm glad that May is a part of our tradition, beyond the pagan and secular observances (May Day, etc). In recent times I find my faith growing,and my devotion to Mary growing. My meditations on the holy events in the life of Mary (as well as Joseph; see last post) have helped me in my discernment process about many significant matters. Much is changing in my understanding of myself as a Catholic. I will certainly pray the Magnificat and other prayers, so that this process of grace may continue.

    I recommend to the rest of those reading this that you follow the link to Catholic Culture. there are links to copies of Pope Paul VI's enciclicle Mence Maio (which I was not familiar with), and prayers such as the Regina Coeli and Akathistos

  2. A Dominican nun gave me a good website for the Lectio Devina: I hope it brings you peace and joy!