By Eva Gonzalez
May is the month for special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary who plays an important role in the Scripture and tradition of the church.
Looking through the Old Testament in Genesis, the first book of the Pentateuch, we find the first reference to Mary. It says:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”
Mary, in contrast to Eve, acts in union with God and becomes the new Eve whose mission was connected to her son Jesus Christ in God’s salvific plan; among other references are Isaiah 7:14 and Micah 5:2.
In the New Testament, the Gospel of Luke portrays Mary as being attentive, listening to the angel at the Annunciation, trusting in his words and responding faithfully. Her response is a glorious “fiat” — an event that becomes the hub of God’s plan of salvation for all humanity through Jesus Christ.
Mary, in her freedom, chooses to follow the way of the Lord becoming the Immaculate Conception and the dwelling of the Word made Flesh. The passage in Luke 1:42 portrays an active
Mary who immediately followed her call to serve, responding with charity at the Visitation where Elizabeth greeted her by saying: “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” And Mary, a woman of prayer, proclaims her wonderful Magnificat.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2679, says: “Mary is the perfect Orans (prayer) … when we pray to her, we are adhering with her to the plan of the Father, who sends his Son to save all men. Like the beloved disciple we welcome Jesus’ mother into our homes, for she has become the mother of all the living. We can pray with and to her. The prayer of the Church is sustained by the prayer of Mary and united with it in hope.”
Mary has also been mentioned in various documents of the church. One of them is Marialis Cultus published in 1974 during Pope Paul VI’s pontificate. It gives us a better understanding of viewing Mary in relation to the liturgy, as a model of the church, and through devotion where it states, “Devotion to the Mother of the Lord becomes for the faithful an opportunity for growing in divine grace, and this is the ultimate aim of all pastoral activity.”
Mary has various titles, and even in the same country people venerate her under more than one title. This is the reason why only a few are being referenced here. They include: Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal; Our Lady of Lourdes in France; Our Lady of Knock in Ireland; Our Lady of the Pillar in Spain; Our Lady of Akita in Japan; Our Lady of Kibeho in Rwanda; Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico; Our Lady of Luján in Argentina; Our Lady of Copacabana in Bolivia; and Our Lady of Chiquinquirá in Colombia.
Others include Our Lady of Suyapa in Honduras; Our Lady of Coromoto in Venezuela; Our Lady of Divine Providence in Puerto Rico; Our Lady of Cobre in Cuba; Our Lady of the Rosary in Guatemala; Our Lady of Peace in El Salvador; Immaculate Conception in the United States and Korea; Our Lady of La Vang in Vietnam; Our Lady of Bandra in India; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Haiti; and Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag in the Philippines.
During this month of May, let’s celebrate our Blessed Virgin Mary in our parishes and homes, crowning her, praying the Rosary, singing Marian hymns, offering flowers and feeling your heart crying out: “Hail Holy Queen!”
Eva Gonzalez is director of Hispanic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Multicultural Ministry.