Mary and the Eucharist
We are in the last week of the month of May which has traditionally been seen as the month of Mary. Spring begins to take hold and flowers are in full bloom. Life springs anew from the dormancy of winter. Families return to walk in parks and children get involved in baseball, softball, and other outdoor sports. We feel more alive and energetic (unless perhaps we suffer from seasonal allergies). With the beginning of the month of May many Catholic families build some type of altar in their homes and place a statue of Mary in a prominent position on or near the altar. Fresh flowers are kept on the altar out of devotion to Mary. And many families prepare to celebrate First Communion with children.
Mother’s Day also falls in May (14 this year), the day when all of us like to reflect on the gift of our mothers . Whether they are living or deceased we remember them in some way, with prayers or with flowers and gifts to express our gratitude for the gift of life they gave us.
In the last encyclical he wrote before his death, Ecclesia de Eucharistia , Pope Saint John Paul 11 focused the church’s attention on the Eucharist . In this encyclical he pointed out that the church has no better model for devotion to the Eucharist than Mary. At one point the pope meditates on the Visitation (feast day May 31) quoting Saint Elizabeth‘s words “Blessed is she who believed”. He writes , “ when at the Visitation , she bore in her womb the Word made flesh , she became the tabernacle -the first tabernacle in history-in which the Son of God , still invisible to our human gaze , allowed himself to be adored by Elizabeth.” One of the chapters is entitled “In the school of Mary” and the pope speaks about how we are called to contemplate the face of Christ with Mary. As the church throughout the USA is about to launch the parish phase of Eucharistic Revival on June 11 of this year we would do well to turn to Mary in this month of May to ask her intercession for our families and our parish community.
The greatest gift many Catholics could give to their mothers this Mother’s Day would be to return to regular attendance at Sunday mass. As a priest I hear so many stories from mothers of teens and young adults, of the pain and hurt they experience because their children have stopped attending mass. If you are among those who have stopped attending mass then one of the best gifts you could give your parents would be to recommit to mass every Sunday and bring your family along. May is the month of Mary and mothers and first Holy Communions. I pray it can be a time of renewal for all Catholics as we enter into this time of Eucharistic Revival contemplating the face of Christ with Mary.