May – A Time of Grace

Lily of the Valley

The countryside is bursting with the new growth and increased daylight of Springtime. As this is Our Lady’s month in the Easter season we rejoice at the Resurrection of her Son.

Before he died in 1923, John S. Stokes (US naval chief) wrote   “The month of May, with its profusion of blooms was adopted by the Church in the eighteenth century as a celebration of the flowering of Mary’s maidenly spirituality. With its origins in Isaiah’s prophecy of the Virgin birth of the Messiah under the figure of the Blossoming Rod or Root of Jesse, the flower symbolism of Mary was extended by the Church Fathers, and in the liturgy, by applying to her the flower figures of the Sapiential Books – Canticles, Wisdom, Proverbs and Sirach.

“In the medieval period, the rose was adopted as the flower symbol of the Virgin Birth, as expressed in Dante’s phrase, ‘The Rose wherein the Divine Word was made flesh,’ and depicted in the central rose windows of the great gothic cathedrals. Also, in the medieval period, when monasteries were the centres of horticultural and agricultural knowledge, and with the spread of the Franciscan love of nature, the actual flowers themselves of the fields, waysides and gardens came to be seen as symbols of Mary…”

St. John-Paul II wrote in 1988:   “In the hierarchy of holiness it is precisely the ‘woman’, Mary of Nazareth, who is the ‘figure’ of the Church. She ‘precedes’ everyone on the path to holiness; in her person ‘the Church has already reached that perfection whereby she exists without spot or wrinkle'”. (Mulieris Dignitatem)

Pentecost is also among the celebrations of May. The Church marks as her birthday the descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles. The Holy Spirit was the “mighty wind [that] swept over the waters” (Gen 1:2).  At the birth of the Church, the Holy Spirit is present again “like the rush of a mighty wind” to recreate the world in the image of Christ through His Church (Acts 2:2).  We, the members of Christ’s Mystical Body, are the present-day disciples and so can bring Christ to the world. May we go forth as did Mary, who set out in haste to assist St. Elizabeth (feast of the Visitation, May 31).

During the remainder of Easter time, let us endeavour to deepen our gratitude for the mystery of our Baptismal rebirth in Christ.

(Adapted from )