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May, the Month of Mary

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Catholics have a deep reverence for and love of Jesus Christ’s mother. Who was this woman to whom we give so much homage despite our Christian brothers’objections to such devotion? Why are Protestants so incensed with the Catholic view of Mary? And why do we devote the month of May to thinking about her even more than usual?
• Catholics do not worship Mary. Catholics are taught from a very early age that we worship God alone and we love and honor Mary because when God asked her to be the mother of his only begotten Son she said yes. Catholics did not elevate Mary to a higher position than the rest of us, God did. Without her assent to God’s request, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ would have had a different story.
• Mary did not become favored by God after she conceived Jesus, she had already been chosen by God to bring forth the Savior. In Luke 1:28, when the Angel Gabriel approaches Mary with God’s message he does not speak in the future tense, pending her answer to God’s request. Gabriel speaks in the present tense “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary is already highly favored at the time the angel greets her with the news!
• Mary was a young woman of humble origins in the town of Nazareth whose life became spectacular because of God’s will for her existence. She is the first person ever to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. In the first two lines of her famous lyrical response to God she says, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” (Luke 1:47). She uses the very words Lord and Savior in her response in which she accepts Jesus Christ more deeply, more readily and more instantly than any other person ever born.
• Catholics do not pray to Mary, Catholics pray to God. Some Protestants believe Catholics defy God’s law by praying to her but the truth is that when Mary is involved in our prayers it is the equivalent of asking someone we care about very deeply to pray for us. We do this all the time with friends, family, and neighbors – even people we don’t really know on Facebook. We ask for prayers. The same is true when we speak with Mary – we ask the mother of Jesus Christ to keep us in her prayers. There is nothing objectionable about the “Hail Mary” prayer. The first half of the prayer consists of direct quotes from the first chapter of Luke, and the second half asks her to pray for us.
• Catholics honor Mary in the month of May, not because of Mother’s Day, though as it turned out the two devotions coincide very well, but because the Church in the 13th century was trying to give more religious significance to secular events occurring during the Middle Ages, which also works out well for the modern age.
What does honoring Mary during the month of May involve?
• Praying the rosary – a devotional prayer that helps us meditate on the life of Jesus Christ, her son.
• Reading Bible stories about Mary and how she played a role in Christ’s life and God’s plan for our salvation.
• Giving her the honor and respect due to the Mother of God, no less than we would offer our own mothers.
May is a month filled with springtime joy, God’s beauty in abundance, and a worldwide appreciation for the vocation of motherhood – it is natural to see Mary in this light and appreciate her as our Heavenly Mother.

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