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The faithful are honoring Mary during the month of May

 043021Carmelite Our Lady

The Blessed Virgin Mary holding the Child Jesus is represented in statuary as Our Lady of Mount Carmel at the Carmelite Shrine in Munster. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

BY LYNDA J. HEMMERLING

NWIC correspondent

 

      While we start thinking about planting gardens, enjoying outdoor sports and making family vacation plans this month, our hearts and thoughts must also turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary as May is the month of Mary, according to the Catholic Church.

      The ways to honor Mary are as varied as the people who honor her. It is common for parishes to have a daily recitation of the Rosary during May, while some may say novenas or set up special altars with a statue or picture of Mary.

      On May 13, the Carmelite Fathers are offering special devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, said Father Frank Czaicki, spiritual director for the Lady of Fatima group.

      Beginning at 7 p.m. at the Carmelite Shrine, 1628 Ridge Road, Munster, a special liturgy will include exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary recitation, Litany to the Blessed Mother, dedication to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and more. The event will conclude with a candlelit procession.

      Father Czaicki stressed the importance of honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary during May and throughout the year because she asks us to seek her help and devotion. She plays an intercessory role as mediatrix in the salvific redemption of her son who bestows graces through her.

Father Bart Stanowski agreed. “Especially (people) have to remember who she is and that she is always with us. She is our mother. She gave us Jesus in the moment of our salvation,” he said.

      People should be thankful for the Virgin Mary who freely and knowingly enabled the Incarnation and salvation of the world by giving Jesus his human nature, he added. “Jesus is close to our hearts which means Mary is very close to us because she can’t be very far from the place where Jesus is,” Father Stanowski said.

      Another long-standing May tradition is crowning a statue of Mary. The crown is often made of floral blossoms representing Mary’s beauty and virtue, serving as a reminder for the faithful to strive to imitate the Blessed Mother’s virtue in their own lives, noted Josephine Kornelik, member of the Legion of Mary and St. John Evangelist parishioner.

      “As Catholics we should continue, promote, and practice the teachings of the Church and with more love and devotion when it comes to Our Lady. In some cultures, she is called the Flower of May; she represents the beauty of spring when the blooming of plants and things of the earth take place. This is a special month for those devoted to Our Lady,” Kornelik said.

      Various activities are offered in virtually every parish, such as: May crownings, novenas for her intercession, pilgrimages and more, she said. While COVID seems to have put a damper on many typical May social offerings, people can do several things in their homes. When families duplicate the customs and traditions of the Church in their homes – domestic churches – they participate more fully in the life of the Church, Kornelik noted.

      “An altar can be erected in the privacy of our homes…to offer up to Mary from our hearts an especially fervent and loving homage of prayer and veneration,” Kornelik said. Founded by the late Frank Duff in Dublin, Ireland, the purpose of the Legion of Mary is to glorify God through the holiness of its members through prayer, active cooperation with Mary and the Church, she explained.

      “It is important to have a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary for many reasons,” Kornelik said. “In my experience as a member of the Legion of Mary, I have learned and experienced that she leads us to her son, Jesus our savior. At the Wedding of Cana, besides making a request to Jesus because they ran out of wine at the wedding, she says, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Our Lady is our greatest intercessor and we can come to her at any time with confidence that she will bring our requests to her son.”

      Father Stankowski encourages people to visit the Carmelite Shrine during the month of May and throughout the year. The shrine is home to many devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary, including a Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy, a grotto of the Mother of God and statues of Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Ludzmierz and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

      No matter the title, Our Lady is a great model to all Christians. “We hope to be able to learn and practice some of her virtues. One of them I always remember is to persevere and to be faithful as God is faithful, and so was she,” Kornelik said.

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