The month of May has finally arrived, bringing with it a potpourri of special blessings. So, here are a few reflections on “Five really good things about May.”
First is the improving weather the month ushers in, an occurrence that is especially welcome this year since winter, like an overbearing and obtrusive house guest, stayed around way too long. I saw a weather report that said that when we finally hit 70 degrees last week, it was the latest date for that achievement in thirty years!
With May comes more sunshine, longer days, and warmer weather. So nice to get outside for gardening, sports, walking or just sitting on the porch after we’ve been held hostage inside by the cruel winds of winter for so many months. Doesn’t it feel good, refreshing, to put away the winter clothes, return the patio furniture and grill to their rightful places, and exchange storm doors with screens?
We know that every season is a gift of God with its own charms, but I strongly prefer summer, and spring is the doorway to summer.
The second really good thing about May is the number of special events that take place this month. I’m thinking of First Holy Communions, Confirmations, Ordinations, Graduations, May Breakfasts and Mother’s Day, for example. Some of these events are primarily religious, others more secular; some mark special, once-in-a-lifetime milestones, others are annual occurrences. But there are two things they have in common.
First, they are positive, joyful events, and a little bit of joy is good for the soul. May, which in collaboration with nature speaks in its own way about new beginnings, is the perfect backdrop for these joyful, hopeful celebrations.
Additionally, they are occasions when families typically come together, and that’s a good thing too. Everyone is so busy these days with their own agendas and activities. Families are scattered across the land pursuing education and employment. Events such as First Communions, Confirmations and Graduations often bring families together again.
And, speaking of families, for heaven’s sake don’t forget Mother’s Day. You’d better spend some time with Mom for brunch, dinner or whatever ― or you’ll have a serious case of Catholic guilt to deal with. And one of the best ways to celebrate Mother’s Day ― attend Holy Mass as a family, pray for Mom, and thank God for the blessing of your family.
And in the list of very special events, we also find the observance of Memorial Day at the end of May. This day, while marking the unofficial beginning of summer with its picnics and outdoor activities, is also a solemn reminder of something more serious, a tribute to those who have given their lives in serving our nation.
In speaking of Memorial Day, one author said, very poignantly, “our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.” And precisely because we often take for granted the freedom and security our nation provides, it is a good and holy thing to remember those who heroically defended our nation and died to preserve our blessings.
Memorial Day is also a traditional time when many folks visit our beautiful cemeteries to remember and pray for their deceased loved ones. Remembrance of the faithful departed, and prayers for their souls, is part of our Catholic tradition. May our cemeteries always be respected as places of reverence, consolation and peaceful prayer.
Another beautiful part of our Catholic heritage highlighted in May is our devotion to our Blessed Mother Mary. Many of our parishes and schools have May Crownings and Marian processions. And for generations it’s been a practice of devout Catholics to set up a May Altar in their homes. I did that as a Catholic schoolboy and, in my own humble expression of filial love, placed the very best dandelions I could find before the Marian shrine in my bedroom.
May sees the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13th, and the Feast of the Visitation on May 31st. And Pope Francis has given us a wonderful new opportunity to honor our Blessed Mother with the “Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church,” which will be celebrated each year on the Monday after Pentecost, this year on May 21st.
Mary is our spiritual Mother who loves us, accompanies us and cares for us in our earthly pilgrimage. Because of our devotion to Mary, every day of May is Mother’s Day.
And one final really good thing about May is that it usually hosts the Solemnity of Pentecost, the great festival of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon his Apostles, it confirmed their discipleship, cemented their bonds as Church, and sent them forth to bear witness to Christ and the saving message of his Gospel.
And so too for us, the Holy Spirit we receive in the sacraments and in fervent prayer helps us to be more like Jesus every day, enlivens our faith, and motivates us to be his witnesses in our own time and place.
On Pentecost we can echo what Pope Paul VI said: “The Church needs her perennial Pentecost. She needs fire in her heart, words on her lips, prophecy in her outlook. So let us ever say to the Holy Spirit: Come, Holy Spirit. Amen!”
So dear friends, a happy May to you. Enjoy all the special blessings this month has to offer.