Saturday, May 4, 2013

May is the Month for the Blessed Virgin Mary

It has only taken me until 4 May to post that the month of May is typically the month that Roman Catholics honor the Blessed Virgin in a ramped up way. But then we always honor her in such a manner. We do not worship the Virgin Mary. Worship is reserved for God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and Him alone. At the other end, we do not only "venerate" her, as we do the rest of the saints and the angels. As one might expect, given her unique status in God's oikonimia (which literally means "household management"), which status is testified to by the four Marian dogmas, she is in a category all by herself, between God and even the other saints.

Since Mary, the Mother of God is also Mater Ecclesiae (i.e., Mother of the Church), the Fourth Commandment applies. Jesus gave us two great commandments: love God with our heart, might, mind, and strength; love our neighbor as ourselves. We often summarize the Ten Commandments by saying that the first three (worshiping God and God alone, observing the sabbath, and not taking God's holy name in vain) have to do with obeying the first of our Lord's two great commandments and the final seven (i.e., not murdering, living chastely, not stealing, not lying, etc.) are how we obey His second commandment. But this schema fails to recognize the importance of the fourth commandment- "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you." Hence, the Decalogue recognizes that our parents, even deceased or absent parents, occupy a unique place between God and everyone else. This is true of our Blessed Mother- she is our Mother because we, through faith in Jesus and by virtue of our Baptism, are God's adopted children.

The "ramped up" way we honor and venerate the Blessed Virgin is called hyperdulia, as opposed to mere dulia, or "veneration" we owe to the other saints and to angels.

Regina Caeli

Since I mentioned the four Marian dogmas, I will list them so as not to leave either of my two readers hanging:

1) Her Divine Maternity: this is why call her "Mother of God," or Theotokos (i.e., God-bearer), as opposed to "Mother of Christ," or Christotokos (i.e., Christ-bearer). Of course, she is both, but some in the early Church insisted on only the latter to exclusion of the former.

2) Her Perpetual Virginity: even after the birth of our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary maintained her virginity.

3) Her Immaculate Conception: she was conceived by her parents (Joachim and Anna, as tradition hands on their names) in the normal way, but by a unique and singular grace was preserved from original sin and remained sinless

4) Her Bodily Assumption into heaven: her body was never subjected to decay in the grave

One other important doctrine concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is the fifth Glorious Mystery of her Most Holy Rosary, is her Coronation as Queen of Heaven.

So, during this month honor her. If you have a statue, or image of her, find a way to crown it with flowers. Pray the rosary every day. Pray the Regina Caeli thrice daily (morning, noon, and evening) until Pentecost, then the Angelus thereafter. Say Memorarés for your intentions and those of others. When you end your prayers, make the Sign of the Cross and say, Veni Sancte Spiritus. Veni per Mariam ("Come Holy Spirit. Come through Mary), which seems a fitting way to prepare for Pentecost.

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