‘The Lord has truly risen, alleluia.’ (Invitatory antiphon)
In the month of May, the earth bursts into bloom and during this Covid-19 lockdown time, people make use of added time to work in the garden, being adventurous to plant vegetables, shrubs and flowers.
May is also the month the Catholic Church for centuries has set aside to honour Mary, Mother of God. There are a variety of ways in which people honour Mary, God’s Mother in homes, parishes and school.
Some people choose to recite the Rosary during this month and some display a May altar in their homes. This might include a statue or an image of Mary. Usually the altar is decorated with seasonal blossoms and May flowers. Remembering Mary, Mother of God at home fosters a spirit of prayer. An environment of prayer is an incentive to pray.
To give Mary a special place in our homes is significant, not just because it is a long standing tradition in the Church but because Mary is Mother of God and our Mother. Mary is everyone’s Mother and she intercedes for us daily with her Son, Jesus. Mary leads us to Jesus.
It was because of Mary’s ‘yes’ to God that Jesus came into the world. Mary was disturbed at the message of the Angel Gabriel, sent by God (Lk 1:26-38) but she trusted God and the power of the Holy Spirit and declared herself as the servant of the Lord. We honour this great act of faith and love when we pray the ‘Angelus Prayer’.
This month of May 2020, Pope Francis invites people to pray the Rosary to end the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, he invites people to pray two additional prayers for this intention daily. The prayer includes, ‘We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God; do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from every danger, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.’
ABOUT MARY AND ‘GROW IN LOVE’
Mary, Mother of God is central in the Grow in Love programme from Junior Infants/P1 to Sixth Class/P8 that is, through the four levels of the ‘Catholic Preschool and Primary Religious Education Curriculum for Ireland’ (2015).
Children have a fondness for Mary and can in faith willingly build a relationship with her. This relationship is fostered and nourished through prayer and devotion to her during the month of May in each of the class standards. As pupils move from one class standard to the next, they build on what has already been taught in the earlier stages in their growth in faith.With God’s grace, they draw closer to Mary.
At Level 1, which encompasses Junior Infants/P1 and Senior Infants/P2, the children are taught in a Seasonal lesson from the Grow in Love programme, that God chose Mary to be the Mother of God. They identify Mary as Mother of Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem at Christmas and grew up in Nazareth with Mary and Joseph. They are also taught that Mary is God’s Mother and Our Mother. As always, children reflect on their own experience of life in relation to those who love them and care for them.
It is then they identify May as a special month in which to remember Mary and there are many suggested ways to do this. As they grow in faith and love of Mary, they recognise that Mary, Mother of God is someone in whom they can confide. In Junior Infants/P1 the children are taught the prayer, ‘Hail Mary’/ ‘Sé do bheatha a Mhuire’. This prayer is one of the formal daily prayers people pray each day to honour Mary. When we pray, the ‘Hail Mary’, we ask Mary to pray for us also. We say, ‘Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.’
There are many opportunities for chatting, prayer and art work, including making paper flowers for a May altar. Children engage in a prayer service based on ‘The Annunciation’ (Luke 1:26-38).The children begin to sing, ‘When Creation Was Begun’ a familiar hymn used in parish liturgies.
A prayer space at home might include a blue/ white cloth, image or statue of Mary, Rosary beads or any other items that might be appropriate.
In addition to the Seasonal lesson taught, children meet Mary in the Grow in Love programme during other times of the Liturgical Year e.g. Advent, Christmas and Easter. They hear stories about Mary read in the Sacred Scripture.
SONGS from the Grow in Love programme that children might sing during the month of May include: ‘When Creation Was Begun’, ‘A Mhuire Mháthair’, ‘The Bells of the Angelus’, ‘Magnificat’ ‘Bring Flowers of the Rarest’,’Mary’ ‘Regina Coeli’- available as video lyrics/ lyrics on the VERITAS website:
On the website dashboard, one can access the e-books for all class standards; and in relation to Junior Infants/P1, and Senior Infants/P2, the following are available: an image of Mary and Jesus, a poster of Mary, quiet reflective music, lyrics for songs, ‘Quiet and Still’ and ‘When Creation Was Begun’; a colouring page to download and an image of a May prayer space and a slideshow of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
PRAY from Grow in Love/I nGrá Dé
Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
‘S É DO BHEATHA, A MHUIRE
‘S é do bheatha a Mhuire,
atá lán do ghrásta,
tá an Tiarna leat.
Is beannaithe thú idir mhná,
agus is beannaithe toradh do bhroinne,
A Naomh Mhuire,
a mháthair De,
guigh orainn, na peacaigh,
anois agus ar uair ár mbáis. Áiméan.
From the song, ‘Bring Flowers of the Rarest’
‘Bring flowers of the rarest,
bring blossoms the fairest,
from garden and woodland
and hillside and dale.
Our full hearts are swelling,
our glad voices telling
the praise of the
lower of the vale.
O Mary we crown thee with
Queen of the Angels and
Queen of the May.’
‘The works I do in my Father’s name are my witness, alleluia.’ (Benedictus antiphon).
‘I know my sheep and they follow me. I give them eternal life, alleluia.’(Magnificat antiphon)
‘Praise the Lord, all you nations; all you people praise him.’ (Psalm 116:1)
Bl. Edmund Rice, (1762-1844), Pray for us.
Sr Anne Neylon