Queen of the May

By Fr. Daniel A. Hare, S.J.

All year long the hearts of Catholics are united to the heart of Mary. Each day has its Ave, its Rosary-, each month is graced with some special feast in her honor. But May is especially the month of our Lady.

We are like members of a family who scatter in the morning, one to the shop, another to the office, the rest to school. There will be thoughts during the day of a loving mother at home, but it is not until evening that the group will gather about the mother's chair to tell her of the joys and sorrows of the day, to relive the past hours, to plan for the future. Each May is the evening of the year for Mary's children. Looking down from Heaven she sees them clustered about her shrines: hearts uplifted, ideals ennobled, the weak strengthened, the strong restrained. May is the "children's hour" for Mary's clients throughout the world, the time when all come to revere, to praise, to think lovingly upon our Lady. It is a time not so much of asking as of giving, and of wanting to give, with loving hearts.

How can one think of Mary without thinking of God? Catholics have been foolishly accused of adoring our Lady, of confusing reverence for her with adoration for God, yet every child of Mary knows the answer. Almost in the same breath the words slip out, "God and His Blessed Mother." The youngest child in a parochial school can tell you, in lisping phrases, that "God is God and our Lady is our Lady." It is another way of saying that God is the Creator and Mary the created. No true child of Mary ever mistakes that.

We gaze on our Lady with love and veneration, because of all that God Himself did for her. Listen to her hymn of praise: "He that is mighty hath done great things to me; and holy is His name." And to Elizabeth, "Blessed art thou among women." Yes, she is blessed, for she was chosen from among all women to be the Mother of the Saviour; blessed in being Virgin and Mother; blessed in being the Queen of Heaven; blessed in being the Mother of God.

Who has not heard children at their wishing-games? "I wish I were a princess; I wish I were a cloud." Only a child's imagination can bound their wishes. How often the same sigh breaks from the lips of a grown-up: "Would that I could place my mother in a more comfortable situation; would that I could comfort some one dear to me!" So often these are, and must ever be, unfulfilled wishes.

But there is One, however, who needs but to wish-to will rather-and it is done. God, who breathed the immortal soul into our Lady, was not only all-wise and all-powerful. He was all-loving. Where else should the treasure of His love be poured out but on her who was to be His Mother? Like some artist with magic skill and an array of colors before him, the Divine Artist began His masterpiece; nothing that was merely human would ever approach her, "our tainted nature's solitary boast." He knew the titles that would greet this masterpiece when it was finished, titles that would be a feeble attempt to express the perfections in our Lady: Mother of God, Virgin of Virgins, Ark of the Covenant, Queen of Angels, Queen of all Saints, Queen conceived without original sin-Virgin, Mother, Queen.

With love the Divine Artist bestowed the white of absolute sinlessness, the fulness of grace; the red of ardent charity; blended with the blue of true humility. What any son would do for his mother, that and incomparably more the Incarnate God did for His Mother. The result of God's handiwork was magnificent beyond description, something befitting the Queen of Heaven, yet so attractive that the lowliest human being, the outcast, could look up and lovingly whisper: "Mother."

Of spiritual gifts, graces, and virtues that our Lady was to possess there would seem to be no end. How very different with material gifts! Have you ever seen a skilled mason take up his material, examine it and cast it aside as unfit for his building? God, who made our Lady to be conceived immaculate, who bestowed on her the crown of virginity and the glory of motherhood, could so very easily have made her wealthy, could have spared her sorrow and suffering, could have prevented her from experiencing poverty and death, and yet He cast these aside. How different are our standards from those of God!

Poverty in the world today is often regarded as something accursed, a shameful thing to be escaped by fair means or foul, with death very often as preferable. God, who made all things by an act of His will, who placed the gold in the hills and the riches in the field, who chose to have Mary the Mother of the Word made Flesh, nevertheless elected to have that mother bring forth that Son in the poverty of the stable of Bethlehem. God, who granted the glory of Virginity and the crown of Maternity to our Lady, chose to have them joined to poverty. Oh, for the faith to accept poverty as a share in our Lady's dowry!

Again, had ours been the choice, there would be no suffering in our lives or in the lives of those dear to us. How differently Almighty God thought of the merit and spiritual efficacy of suffering! Divine omniscience knew that, down through the ages, there would be suffering, pain of body, and anguish of soul. Yes, much anguish of soul.

Divine Wisdom knew that mankind, blinded with tears of suffering, might not see the bloody footsteps of Christ on the path to Heaven, but that we would see the Mother of Sorrows standing beneath the Cross of her Divine Son, teaching us patiently to bear our sufferings. And if Christ, the God-Man, was to be like us in all things, sin alone excepted, so would His Blessed Mother, but especially in sorrow. So Mary the Queen of Heaven is also the Mother of Sorrows. She who heard the Angelic salutation was also to hear Simeon's prophecy: "Thy own soul a sword shall pierce"; she was to see her beloved Son hang on the cross and die a criminal's death-for us. Throughout the world today, as innocent women and children sit beside the smoking ruins of their homes and the lifeless bodies of their dear ones, their numbed hearts lift voiceless prayer to that Mother who like them has known sorrow. "Oh, all ye that pass by, stop and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow."

During this month of May the children of Mary will be raising eyes of love and reverence to their Queen. Prayers and hymns of praise will ascend like incense. Best of all will be the countless lives of men and women of all ages and classes, those lives modeled upon that of Mary until the blessed day when she will at last answer our prayer: "Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus".