May and the Month of Mary

                                                                                                         By Mr. Basso

Coat of Arms
Miles Christi Sum – “I am a soldier of Christ”

The school year winds down every year in the month of May – a month that is nearly sacred on the west side of Indianapolis. May is virtuously synonymous with the crescendo of events that culminate in the running of the Indianapolis 500. But May is a month that, around the world is significant, even sacred, for another reason: for Catholics and many other Christians it is a month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ.

The Easter season always falls at least partly in the month of May, and in our celebration of the Joy of the Resurrection we also celebrate the critical role Mary played in cooperating with God, bringing Christ into the world. In many parishes and communities the month begins with a “May Crowning”, sometimes with elaborate processions through the streets, carrying a statue or icon of the Blessed Mother. At its conclusion the statue is “crowned” and adorned with an array of flowers.

May also features two prominent Marian feast days, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima on the 13thand the feast of the Visitation on the 31st. From May to September of 1917 the Blessed Virgin appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. As the months passed thousands came to observe the miraculous sight, which appeared to most as a ball of light falling from the sky. Mary encouraged the children – and the Church – to pray for the conversion of sinners, and to convert ourselves to lives of discipleship. The Visitation marks Mary’s visit to her cousin, Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. The encounter is recorded in the Gospel of Luke and gives us the beautiful Canticle of Mary.

May is when spring fully blooms in the northern hemisphere, and so there is a natural association with new life and motherhood. The veneration of Mary honors not only her motherhood of Jesus Christ, but her maternal role in the Church. The humble, ever-virgin Mary has become the mother of all those redeemed by her Son and from her exalted place in heaven she rejoices at her Son’s triumph over sin and death, which like the flowers of May, blossoms anew in the lives of his disciples.

We are all aware of Cardinal Joseph Ritter’s motto, Miles Christi Sum – “I am a soldier of Christ”. His coat of arms featured a second, related motto, Ipsa duce non fatigaris – “With her guidance we shall not grow weary.” Never tire, then, of persisting in the life of discipleship. Sustained by the Grace of God and prayers of Mary, our Mother, we will be configured ever more closely to Christ, our Lord.

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A Reflection on Lent

Posted on May 12, 2016

Pope Francis leads Ash Wednesday mass in Rome [AP]

Lent is one of the oldest observations on the Christian calendar.  The earliest mention of Lent came from the council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. It has changed many times over the years but the meaning has stayed the same. Around c.130- c.200, Lent only lasted two to three days. Now, it lasts 40 days as we currently observe.

Remember that fasting requires that only one full meal be taken per day. According to tradition, fasting is an obligation for all those who have reached the age of 18 and continues until age 59. Abstinence, on the other hand, prohibits eating meat on a particular day. Similar to fasting, abstinence is the obligation of those 14 and on to follow. In line with Catholicism, Ash Wednesday (March 1) and Good Friday (March 25) are days of fast and abstinence.

During the 40 days it is important to remember the reason we celebrate Lent. We recall the meaning of baptism, symbolizing purification and admission to the Church. An important lesson to be learned is that we give up something during Lent to stay true to the Christian ideal. While Lent itself bears a Christian focus, the meaning behind Lent is to give up something that inevitably can remain a constant after the 40 day period.