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"Mary's Crown" [Authored by: Dr. Tina Bailey]
A Reflection presented by The Rosary Hour Podcast
All Rights Reserved: © Copyright - The Rosary Hour Podcast (Newsletter: May 1, 2022)
Travessa da Senra House Press (Porto, Portugal)
A Reflection: by Dr. Tina Bailey
I must have wanted to be the girl chosen to carry Mary's crown of flowers that year. Yet the memory of that particular May crowning dwells on other details: an impossibly bright day, a warm breeze, the change of school routine, and an uncharacteristic feeling of peace for such an anxious little girl.
Mary waited, painted with gold and blue, at the end of a makeshift aisle on the front lawn of our elementary school. Rows of little plastic chairs soon filled with squirmy children on an early spring day. I can conjure the smell of damp soil, dewy grass. The promise in the air of more warm days to follow. The emotions remain clear, an almost unfamiliar feeling of lightness for a school day.
I can’t recall whether the lucky girl was younger than I, or older; someone I knew, or not. I’m not sure I even remember the moment that the crown was perched, delicately—or perhaps clumsily?—on Mary’s likeness. Were her flowers white? Perhaps peach? All the colours blend together in the bright light.
Did it seem like a lot of bother for the principal and teachers to organize the May crowning ceremony outdoors? It certainly would have added to a busy school day, with all the usual in-and-out of recess and lunch. But I remember a happy gathering, even as teachers hovered to corral so many excited children. Perhaps we all had a little spring fever, a longing to be outdoors and turn our faces to the sun and Mother Mary. The memory remains so vivid. I am grateful for their effort. I wonder if others remember the power of that particular ceremony.
We sang in the sunshine, Mary’s special hymns in childish voices. Familiar prayers were recited. She held our attenion, Our Lady in blue. The tradition would be similar in any setting, though in different countries around the globe, the crowning of May takes on different rhythms and cultural meaning.
At my little school in Ontario, Canada, I would have attended a version of that assembly annually, often indoors; but, on that glorious spring day, I must have been just the right age to connect with the deeper significance. It became a central memory of Catholic school, celebrating Mary's grace, and belonging to something greater — an even greater love than the nested circles of family, school, and parish.
On her special day in May, we lifted up our hearts and voices, following along as children do, but also feeling something special was happening. The memory may be mixed with imaginings, but I can still feel the mood of that morning: one of love, joy and hope.
Even the youngest among us knew the story of Mary, from scripture and song:
The Angel Gabriel announced to Mary
that she would be God's Mother, you see
And the God was conceived by the Holy Ghost
and born of the Virgin Mary
We likely didn't realize the gift of her intercession — the reach of her protection, even as we embraced her as a symbolic Mother. Yet the confidence of a child’s faith resonates in song, and the song becomes a prayer:
Hail Mary, Mother of God, Lady in blue, I love you
Hail Mary, Mother of God, Mary is my mother, too.
The memory is sun-dappled: a flash of radiance among more mundane days. Mary is associated with effects of the sun. Her appearances to three shepherd children in Fatima culminated in the ‘Miracle of the Sun’on the 13th of October 1917. Journalists reported this event, occurring in front of 70,000 witnesses, as one of extraordinary solar activity as the sun danced in the sky. On the 8th of November 1950, Pope Pius XII witnessed the miracle of the sun on four occasions from the Vatican gardens, and so made his decision to proclaim the dogma of Mary’s assumption into Heaven.
The apparition of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima reminds us that Mary watches over us all, and especially the children.
On other days, all those less memorable school days, her statue stood in the hallway outside the office, her soft gaze perhaps unnoticed but never wavering. Perhaps we lingered there, on our way in or out, admiring her blue robes, or even noting a sadness in her eyes. Only recently have I realized that when we draw closer to Mary and pray the Rosary, she begins to reveal her eternal purpose. Mary appeals to our hearts, and children know instinctively the power of her love. She comes alive, becoming more than a statue or an image, or even a miraculous story.
So many years later, I can look back on that day and scroll through sunlit images in my mind, seeing it all with a deeper reverence and understanding of Our Lady's gifts and promises. What I felt instinctively about Mary’s encompassing love becomes tangible in the Rosary, and all the ways she gathers us closer to Jesus.
I began to pray the Rosary with our children during Lent, beginning with a decade daily, and now we look toward the month of May to continue nurturing a connection with Mary.
The Rosary is Our Lady's gift to us: it is a promise of her protection and intercession on our behalf. Our nightly Rosary is a time to bring any struggles to Mary and pray for special intentions together. It is a powerful reprieve in difficult times, and a transformative contemplative practice at any time, bringing us closer to Jesus through meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary -- inspiring moments in the life of Mary and Jesus.
We also began a 33-day consecration, following Blythe Kaufman's accessible book, Consecration: to Jesus through Mary—Following in the Spirit of St. Therese, the Little Flower,which provides a story, prayers, and teachings. St. Therese taught us simplicity in spiritual life, providing a practical path of charity and justice to explore together.
The idea of coming to Jesus through Mary is most often attributed to Louis de Monfort, based on his book True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. However, the concept dates back further, promoted by many authors including St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Frances de Sales, who reference Mary as the means of reaching Divine Mercy.
In May, we'll start a new tradition at home—our Domestic Church—crowning a statue of Mary with flowers. Roses and lilies are associated with Mary, and many specific flowers have been connected with events in her life. Her crown of spring blossoms is both a testament to her purity, and symbolic of the “crown of righteousness”, “crown of life” and “crown of glory” promised in the Scriptures to those who follow Christ. Pope Francis announced in 2018that the Church will celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Mother of the Church” annually on the Monday following Pentecost (June 6 in 2022).
We may not fully understand as children Mary’s importance in our faith, but her love still draws us near. As I’ve come to know her better, her gifts grow more precious. And as the sun warms the earth and flowers begin to bloom, we again ask her to strengthen our love, hope and faith.
I remember the first daffodils or tulips gathered for a teacher.
A favourite spring dress, with a sweater on a chilly morning.
And that vivid spring day when we sang to Mary under a clear sky and she listened, her head slightly bowed, her blue robes almost fluttering in the breeze. Steadfast in her love, Mary smiled down on us.
Memories are at once enduring and elusive. Moving images, almost a story, an impression that holds more meaning over time. We turn these treasures over in our minds, smoothing rough edges with imagination, and filling in gaps with learning over time. Like many early memories, our first encounters with Spirit, with ritual, may be a little blurred around the edges, but often leave a lasting impression.
What are your earliest memories of Prayer and/or connection to the Divine…? Take a moment today to write down your thoughts in your journal or blog.
“Mary’s Crown: A Reflection” by Dr. Tina Bailey
All Rights Reserved: © Copyright - The Rosary Hour Podcast (Newsletter: May 1, 2022)
EDITED BY: Travessa da Senra House Press (Porto, Portugal)
CNA Staff. “10 things you need to know about how Fatima's 'Miracle of the sun' ended an Atheist regime”. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/36019/miracle-of-the-sun-broke-darkness-of-portugals-atheist-regimes (Oct. 12, 2017)
Pronechen, Joseph. “70 Years Ago, Pius XII Proclaimed Assumption — and Saw Miracle of the Sun”. National Catholic Register https://www.ncregister.com/blog/70-years-ago-pius-xii-proclaimed-assumption-and-saw-miracle-of-the-sun (August 14, 2020)
Graves, Jim. “Book on child consecration builds on St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary”. https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2020/12/09/book-on-child-consecration-builds-on-st-louis-de-montforts-true-devotion-to-mary/ (December 9, 2020)
Watkins, Devin. “Pope institutes new celebration of Mary, Mother of Church”. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-03/pope-institutes-new-celebration-of-mary--mother-of-church.html
Prot. N. 10/18
DECREE on the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church in the General Roman Calendar
The joyous veneration given to the Mother of God by the contemporary Church, in light of reflection on the mystery of Christ and on his nature, cannot ignore the figure of a woman (cf. Gal 4:4), the Virgin Mary, who is both the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church.
In some ways this was already present in the mind of the Church from the premonitory words of Saint Augustine and Saint Leo the Great. In fact the former says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church. These considerations derive from the divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the Redeemer, which culminated at the hour of the cross.
Indeed, the Mother standing beneath the cross (cf. Jn 19:25), accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal. She thus became the tender Mother of the Church which Christ begot on the cross handing on the Spirit. Christ, in turn, in the beloved disciple, chose all disciples as ministers of his love towards his Mother, entrusting her to them so that they might welcome her with filial affection.
As a caring guide to the emerging Church Mary had already begun her mission in the Upper Room, praying with the Apostles while awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14). In this sense, in the course of the centuries, Christian piety has honoured Mary with various titles, in many ways equivalent, such as Mother of Disciples, of the Faithful, of Believers, of all those who are reborn in Christ; and also as “Mother of the Church” as is used in the texts of spiritual authors as well as in the Magisterium of Popes Benedict XIV and Leo XIII.
Thus the foundation is clearly established by which Blessed Paul VI, on 21 November 1964, at the conclusion of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council, declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as “Mother of the Church, that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother” and established that “the Mother of God should be further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles”.
Therefore the Apostolic See on the occasion of the Holy Year of Reconciliation (1975), proposed a votive Mass in honour of Beata Maria Ecclesiæ Matre, which was subsequently inserted into the Roman Missal. The Holy See also granted the faculty to add the invocation of this title in the Litany of Loreto (1980) and published other formularies in the Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1986). Some countries, dioceses and religious families who petitioned the Holy See were allowed to add this celebration to their particular calendars.
Having attentively considered how greatly the promotion of this devotion might encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety, Pope Francis has decreed that the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar on the Monday after Pentecost and be now celebrated every year.
This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed, the Virgin who makes her offering to God.
The Memorial therefore is to appear in all Calendars and liturgical books for the celebration of Mass and of the Liturgy of the Hours. The relative liturgical texts are attached to this decree and their translations, prepared and approved by the Episcopal Conferences, will be published after confirmation by this Dicastery.
Where the celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, is already celebrated on a day with a higher liturgical rank, approved according to the norm of particular law, in the future it may continue to be celebrated in the same way.
Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.
From the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 11 February 2018, the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes.
- Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect
- Arthur Roche, Archbishop Secretary