A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Mary’s Month

By Fr Ezio Blasoni SM

I have never been convinced by the claim of northern hemisphere Catholics that “May is Mary’s Month.”

I have never been convinced by explanations that try to attach Christian meanings to non-Christian customs and festivals. 

I prefer to follow the liturgical year and the church calendar that have been set out for us in the Roman Missal. I know that other Catholics in New Zealand do too.

According to our church calendar, September is much more Mary’s month than May is.

Our memorials in September begin with the Birth (Nativity) of the Blessed Virgin Mary (8 September).

Even little children can understand, appreciate and celebrate the Birthday of Mary, even though they may not connect the celebration with the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (8 December) which adult Catholics celebrated nine months earlier! But they can recognise that Mary’s birth was an important event in God’s plan to save us.

Then we are invited to remember and celebrate the Holy Name of Mary (12 September). It is the patronal feast for Marist lay people, Marist religious and Marist priests. But all of Christ’s faithful people are called to honour the sacred name of the chosen one (Luke 1:31) who is addressed by the angel Gabriel as “so highly favoured.” (Luke 1:28)

Mary’s name is sacred not only because it identifies who she is but also because it describes the kind of person that she is: a faithful mother who is humble, living in intimate union with her God, moved by the most ardent love of others.

We are reminded, however, that Mary, our faithful mother, suffered greatly by sharing in the sufferings of her redeemer and saviour Son. So, on September 15th we are invited to remember Our Lady of Sorrows.

The Seven Sorrows of Mary lead us to reflect on and pray with Our Lord’s sufferings and Mary’s sufferings. Mary’s sorrows begin with the prophecy of Simeon about Mary’s infant Son and about Mary herself (Luke 2:34). They conclude with the burial of her crucified adult Son (John 19:40).

On September 24th we celebrate Our Lady of Mercy. It is the important memorial day for the Sisters of Mercy (Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa) and all of their associates who have been faithful servants and witnesses of the Lord Jesus in New Zealand since 1850. 

It is also an important memorial day for Society of Mary, which recalls the first professions of religious vows on this day in 1836. 

Also in New Zealand we have many children and families who live with the protection of Our Lady, Star of the Sea; or in Latin, Stella Maris. With these titles Mary is also honoured in the noble ministry of the Apostleship of the Sea. According to a long-standing tradition, even though there is no fixed date for it, the memorial of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, or Stella Maris, is usually celebrated in the month of September.

Therefore, by following our Church calendar we can describe September as “Mary’s month.”

And, as always, Mary points us to her Son, Jesus. Mary agrees with St Paul who teaches us “If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)   

Cover Picture:

The Madonna and Child 

by William Dyce, 1845

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