Young boys and girls throughout Catholic parishes in Rhode Island receive their First Holy Communion in the month of May. Dressed in suits and dresses they approach the altar of the Lord for the first time to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Closely tied with their reception of the Sacrament is another person: Mary. As Catholics know, May is the month for Mary. Monday night rosary, and the crowning of Mary are hallmarks of this month. Traditionally, after making their First Holy Communion, those children participate in the crowning of Mary. They place (usually with the help of a stool or step ladder) a crown of flowers on a statue of Mary. This pious tradition helps us understand the Eucharist.
When our Lord gave His life for us on Good Friday, he spoke several words. To the beloved disciple He said: “Behold your mother.” On one level, Christ addresses a practical concern. Since his mother Mary had no other children, the Lord entrusted His mother to St. John ensuring that she was looked after. At a deeper level, however, in this act Christ entrusts Mary to the entire Church. One of His final commands directs all of us to love Mary.
The years immediately following the Second Vatican Council witnessed a certain eclipse of Marian devotion. These years are now not remembered for their clarity of Catholic thinking and devotion. Put simply, there is no Catholic life apart from Our Lady. If you want to draw near to Christ, heed His final command — behold your mother.
How can we encourage families and their children to stay faithful to the Mass? The May Crowning devotion and Christ’s final command give us an answer: stay faithful to Mary.
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