Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
May is the month dedicated to Our Lady. It is a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Mother of God. We honor her not only as the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, but also as our spiritual mother, who constantly watches over us from her place as Queen of Heaven and wraps her mantle of protection around us as a mother embraces her children.
The Church regards Mary as the perfect disciple, the model for all men and women who wish to follow her Son. Mary imitates Christ perfectly because of her humility. She completely forgot about herself in the face of the Divine Will. Her “Fiat”– “Let it be done to me according to Your Will” sums up her whole life. Whatever God wanted, she wanted too. She always desired to fulfill whatever God would require of her. We do not see much of her in the Scripture because the focus was on Jesus. She was happy to fade into the background; she did not distract us from her Son, who alone should be the center of each of our lives. This is why Mary is the model for every person. She shows us that no one of us is more important than Christ is. She helps us to have that humility which keeps God first and foremost in our lives.
Contemplating the beautiful face of Mary during this month of May means dedicating ourselves to her and imitating her example. As Mary made room for Jesus, both in her womb and in her life, we too can open our lives to welcome the Lord in and make room for him to dwell within us. When recalling her generous Yes to God’s plan, we must allow ourselves to say Yes to whatever God’s plan is for us, no matter how difficult or incomprehensible it might be at times. Pope Pius XII, in his 1947 Encyclical “Mediator Dei,” encouraged special prayers to the Blessed Mother during the month of May. Popes down the centuries have consistently taught and promoted Marian devotions throughout the Church. Most recently, Pope Francis himself has expressed this desire for the faithful: “I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities. The key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow… I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you.” (Holy Father’s Letter for the Month of May 2020).
In our parish, dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Marian devotions have always been an important part of life. There are various ministries and groups dedicated specifically to the promotion of Marian cult, such as the Legion of Mary, the Rosary Society, the Virgin of Guadalupe Prayer Group, etc. Throughout the week, the faithful also gather after each Mass to pray the Rosary and other Litanies to Our Lady. Every Wednesday afternoon, a special Novena to Our Lady of Mount Carmel is celebrated after the Noon Mass. On the First Saturday of every month, many faithful observe such Marian devotions with greater intensity, including the reverent reception of Holy Communion as requested by Our Lady herself at Fatima in 1917. In our lower church, there are many different shrines dedicated to the Blessed Mother under various titles according to the unique cultural traditions that make up our parish community, yet none of those shrines is ever without fresh flowers. In addition, the votive candles that constantly burn before the statues and images of Our Lady provide a powerful testimony to our people’s closeness to the Mother of God.
As we honor Mary in a special way during this month both in church and at home, let us invoke her divine love and protection not only upon ourselves, but also upon our mothers, living and deceased, who will be honored in a special way on Mother’s Day, and upon our children who will be receiving their first Holy Communion this month. May we all remain close to Mary’s maternal heart, and know the joy of union with Jesus, her Son.
Commending each of you to Our Lady and assuring you of my own spiritual closeness, I remain
Faithfully yours in Christ,
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham