For Christians, every fifth month of the year is the month dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother. When I was a child, the month of Mary was the month of the Flowers of Mary.

Every month of May I remember the joyful afternoons in my noble town El Oso, near Avila, the City of Knights and of St. Teresa: the joyful afternoons perfumed with the smell of green grass and pine trees, fresh wheat fields, and colorful flowers of all kinds.  

I remember withjoy and nostalgiathose years of my childhood. With great joy because we children enjoyed immensely leaving school early in the afternoon to pick up flowers from the field and later in the afternoon offer them to Mary in the Church during the May Marian Devotion. With some nostalgia, because those enchanting days will not come back. 

Every afternoon was like a great feast. The children – boys and girls – left their respective school running as one to the plain fields of the town’s Castilian plateau between Avila and Arévalo, another famous city of the Province of Avila. We spread out and each one picked the flowers he or she was going to take to the Church. We gathered all kinds of flowers, particularly roses, daisies, carnations… While cutting the flowers, the boys “learned” a few new nests of different kinds of birds – of quails, partridges, linnets …

With our bunch of flowers, we entered the elegant and historical baroque Church of St. Peter. The Apostle. Occupying our places, we joined the people in reciting the Rosary, worshipping the Blessed Sacrament, and offering the flowers to Mary with childhood innocence while singing “Venid y vamos todos / con flores a María / … / que Madre nuestra es”- Come and go all / With flowers to Mary … / Who is our Mother…”

 Once upon a time, there was a child…! But those “swallows” of childhood or youth – as the poet says -will never come back! (Esas golondrinas no volverán). And the children’s flowers have withered long time ago. One is tempted to sing “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’ll never end.” On the other hand, I realize that we cannot be the children we were, but still we are in part and hopefully always - and this is truly great -, children for life. I remember the often quoted text from Rainer Maria Rilke: “The true motherland of man is childhood.” 

We can be child-like!  The Prophet of Nazareth says: “If you do not become like children you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Those who believe with the grace of the Holy Spirit that God is our Father and Jesus is our Brother and the Virgin Mary is our spiritual Mother then we can place ourselves before God as children and be child-like, that is, sincere, humble, trusting, hopeful and loving. 

Through the Month of May, the Month of Mary, Christians strive to purify and strengthen their devotion to Mary, who is our best intercessor before God and the disciple of disciples of Jesus, her Son and our Savior and Brother. Through the month of May, we Christians in Macau go to Mother Mary especially as Our Lady of Fatima.

God our Father with the Spirit gave us Jesus, his Son, through Mary. Hence it is proper for believers in Christ to go to Jesus through – or with – Mary. What matters most in our Marian devotion is that Mary takes us to Jesus, who is the end of all the devotions to the saints, in the first place of our especial devotion to Mary, who is above all saints and closest to the Blessed Trinity. 

The followers of Jesus are asked by their faith to be devoted to Mary, the Mother of the Son of God, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the favored daughter of God the Father: All should devoutly venerate her and commend their life and apostolate to her motherly concern(Vatican II). 

Other Christians, our brothers and sisters, are not devoted to Mary as we Catholics are. They center – like us, too - their devotion on Christ, our only Savior and Redeemer. Some of them seem to think that the Catholic devotion to Mary is at least exaggerated. It might be so for some of us Catholics, but it should not be. Certainly, authentic devotion to Mary is not – should not be - an obstacle to our devotion to Jesus, who is the only Way to salvation and liberation.  Quite the contrary! Our Marian devotion, in particular the Rosary of Mary, takes us to Jesus: with her, as St. John Paul II says, “we learn Jesus.” 

The devotion to Mary is unique and above the devotion to all the saints, and is also ordered to our devotion to Jesus. The end of our special devotion to Mary is Jesus. In this context we understand the words of the Lord. A woman in the crowd shouted to Jesus: “Happy the womb that bore you and the breasts you sucked.” Jesus’ reply to her: “Happier are those who hear my word and keep it” (Lk 11:27-28; cf. Lk 8:19-21). Mary was the one who heard the word of Jesus and kept it most perfectly. 

Authentic devotion to Mary basically means filial love to Mary. Because Mary is the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, we have to receive her - after John the Evangelist- in our home, that is, in the center of our souls. 

What are the implications of our devotion to Mary then? Mary is our unique intercessorbefore Christ, and our modelin following her Son, our only Way. At Cana, Mary shows her role for us: first, her role as intercessor: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:1-10). Second, her role as disciple of disciples: “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).

Mary is the most perfect person among angels and saints. The Fathers of the Church said: only the Blessed Trinity is above Mary. Our Lady is our Mother, our spiritual Mother, that is, in the order of grace (cf. CCC 968).  Jesus, to be sure, is the only Mediator before God. Mother Mary is the one who cooperated like nobody else in Jesus Christ’s work of redemption. 

To be devoted to Mary entails not merely to admire her, to applaud her but to imitate her life and virtues: she is the Mother of God and the perfect disciple of Jesus, the first disciple, the disciple of disciples. She is the true disciple: she lived with Jesus; she shared her life at home with him and for him; she shared in his sufferings; after Jesus’ resurrection, she prayed with the apostles in the cenacle. She was assumed into heaven. From heaven, she continues praying for us: “They have no wine!”

The Virgin Mary is our Mother. Why not sing to her, through the month of May - her month -,  songs of joy and gratitude and love, the songs of childhood –  of children that are still like children, and often insecure, fearful and weak and at times unhappy! And always in need of help – also of Mary’s help.  

 

Venid y vamos todos / Con flores a María… / Que Madre nuestra es.

Fr. Fausto Gómez, OP.