I remember with great fondness the May Crownings of my childhood…nothing said “spring is here” more powerfully than a good May Crowning.
Are May Crownings passe? Hopefully not. As catechists, a May Crowning is a good opportunity for us to help those we teach understand that Catholics do not worship Mary but rather honor her.
May Crownings may be considered out of date by some but, with the proper catechesis, they can continue to be a wonderful devotion and a way to bring us closer to Jesus. So what makes for “sound” Marian devotion? In his apostolic exhortation on Mary, Marialis Cultus (To Honor Mary), Pope Paul VI outlined five characteristics that are required, saying that sound Marian devotions and good Marian theology must be:
- Biblical – rooted in the testimony of Scripture.
- Liturgical – in tune with the great liturgical seasons. (Paul VI named especially Advent, where Mary joins the Church in expecting the birth of the Messiah, and then Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit of the Church.)
- Ecumenical – in harmony with the agreements we have reached with fellow Christian Churches.
- Anthropological – be sensitive to the changing role of women in society (i.e. to present Mary as a woman who was passive and subservient does not resonate with the perception of women in today’s society).
- Theological – have God at the center—with Mary placed in relation to Christ and to the Church.
You can celebrate a simple May Crowning with those you teach by doing the following:
- Place a statue of Mary on a pedestal.
- Sing a hymn honoring Mary.
- Read a Scripture passage about Mary such as Luke 1:26-38 (the Annunciation); Luke 1:39-45 (the Visitation); Luke 2:6-12 (the Nativity); Luke 2:41-50 (the boy Jesus in the Temple); Luke 23:27-29 (Mary meets Jesus carrying his cross); John 19:25-30 (Mary at the foot of the cross).
- Offer a brief reflection on the role of Mary as the first disciple.
- Walk in procession while singing or playing a Marian hymn.
- Place a garland of flowers on the head of the statue.
- Pray the Hail, Mary, the Hail, Holy Queen, or the Memorare.