We have begun the lovely month of May! Although this month is named after the Greek goddess Maia, the oldest of the Pleiades, the seven sisters, and although the word mai is also a northern European word that means fresh green growth, we Catholics celebrate May as Mary’s month. During this Easter season, we join with Mary in rejoicing in Christ’s resurrection from the dead and we honor her as the model of the Church, waiting with the apostles for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We can honor her this month by praying the Rosary or other Marian devotions, by participating in the Mass on May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, or May 31, the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, and by our own personal prayer. We honor and remember our own mothers this month, especially on Mother’s Day, but don’t forget your mama Mary, as well!
Gerard Manley Hopkins was an 19th century English poet and Jesuit priest, who is considered one of the finest poets of the Victorian era. He wrote many religious works, including this ode entitled “The May Magnificat”, which I offer for your meditation and reflection as we begin May, Our Lady’s month:
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;
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,
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.
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfed 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.