Queen of the May
“…Is Mary the rose then? Mary the tree?
But the blossom, the blossom there, who can it be?
Who can her rose be? It could be but one:
Christ Jesus our Lord, her God and her son.
In the gardens of God, in the daylight divine
Shew me thy son, mother, mother of mine….”
-Excerpt from “Rosa Mystica” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Perhaps it is Our Lady’s title of Rosa Mystica, under which we invoke her in the Litany of Loretto, that flora such powerful connection to devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary—particularly during her month of May, when flowers are abundant (especially here in Santa Rosa!). Devotions such as May Crowning, wherein Our Mother is decorated with a corona of blossoms, are endearing displays of devotion—but they are also much more when one takes into account the symbolism behind such an action:
By Blood and Water Purified
"O Mother, it is to your heart that I come to lay down the anguish of my heart;
it is there that I draw strength and courage."
- St. Bernadette
All feasts of Our Lady are celebrated with joy and affection by the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa, but a few enjoy particular devotion; one such is Our Lady of Lourdes. The presence of Our Lady in this apparition to the humble St. Bernadette Soubirous is moving on many accounts: Our Lady’s maternal solicitude for poor sinners, and towards St. Bernadette herself; her encouragement of obedience towards ecclesiastical authority; and her humility in identifying herself with her first great gift of grace, her Immaculate Conception.
Thou Art All Fair, O Mary
O Maria sine labe concepta, ora pro nobis!
"'I will put enmities between thee and the woman.' In these words the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was announced to our first parents. It was to be the reversal of the friendship with the serpent contracted by Eve, when she listened to his voice and fell under his power. The second Eve was never to be under the power of the devil; the enmity between them was to admit of no possible exception. This involved the grace of being conceived immaculate. Mary's Immaculate Conception was the foundation of all her graces. The absence of any stain or spot of sin distinguished her from all the rest of mankind. It distinguished her from the holiest of the Saints, since they, one and all, were sinners. Her perfect sinlessness was the source of all her glory and all her majesty; it was this which opened the door to the unlimited graces that she received from God; it was this that qualified her for her divine maternity, and raised her to her throne as Queen of heaven." - Roman Missal 1962 on the Immaculate Conception
The Temple of the Lord
Holy Mother of God, Mary ever-Virgin, you are the temple of the Lord
and the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
Beyond all others, you were pleasing to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Magnificat Antiphon for Vespers
O Queen of the Holy Rosary
"In me is all grace of the way and of the truth;
in me is all hope of life and of virtue.
Like a rose planted on the rivers I have borne fruit."
- Offertory: Mass of the Most Holy Rosary of the B.V.M.
A Feast of Beginning
"Thy birth, O Virgin Mother of God, brought joy to the whole world:
for out of thee arose the Sun of Justice, Christ our God: who, taking off the curse,
hath bestowed blessing; and, defeating death, hath given us life everlasting.”
- Responsory: Office of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
"Let us, then, understand the Church when, even on this day, she proclaims thy divine maternity, and unites in her chants of praise the birth of Emmanuel and thine own. He who, being Son of God by essence, willed to be also Son of man, had, before all other designs, decreed that he would have a Mother. Such, consequently, was the primordial, absolute character of that title of mother, that in the eternal decree, it was one with the very being of the chosen creature, the motive and cause of her existence, as well as the source of all her perfections natural and supernatural. We too, then, must recognize thee as Mother, even from thy very cradle, and must celebrate thy birthday by adoring thy Son our Lord.
“I gaze upon the children of men to see whether anyone feels compassion for me, and alas, I see but few! …Do not forget me. Consider how much I have suffered.”
- Our Lady to St. Bridget
In the 14th Century, Our Lady appeared to St. Bridget of Sweden revealing the seven promises for those who honor meditate on her Seven Sorrows:
Hail Queen of the Heavens
"Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity
as to be the mother of the King of kings,
it is deservedly and by every right that the Church
has honored her with the title of 'Queen.'"
- St. Alphonsus Ligouri
Assumpta est Maria in Caelum
"It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God." - St. John Damascene
How shall it be when we see her there,
With heavenlight radiant on her face
Making a glow of her shining hair,
Marking each fold of her garment’s grace?
Breathless in awe shall the angels listen
While we, the fallen, declare her ours
Though all the stars of the morning glisten
Around her circlet of skyey flowers?
For only God and ourselves may claim
This loveliest, spotless, and sinless on
And call her “Mother”—O matchless name!
Whose God and Creator is her Son.
Who shall have words for that breathless hour
When death’s dark slumber is past awhile,
And heaven unfolds like a glowing flower
That blooms forever in Mary’s smile?
Mater Amabilis! Mother-my-own,
How shall I wait all the long years through,
Unsated with beauty, in exile lone,
Searching the skies for a sight of you!
“Mater Amabilis” from p. 43 of Our Lady of Springtime, by Sr. Mary Jean Dorcy, O.P.