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May 8/9: Day by Day with Father Bill – Weekend Edition

The May Magnificat by Father Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ

MAY is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season –
Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?
Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunist
And flowers finds soonest?
Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question: What is Spring? –
Growth in every thing –
Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together,
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle about her nested
Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warm the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.
All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
With that world of good,
Nature’s motherhood.
Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.
Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.
When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfed cherry
And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all –
This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

Without a doubt, Pope Francis has a deep love and devotion to Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church. Before and after the Pope travels, he always makes a visit to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, placing a bouquet of flowers before the painting of the Blessed Mother (Salus Populi Romani [The Salvation of the Roman People]), and asking Mary to go to Jesus for his blessing at the beginning of his trip and to bring to Jesus his gratitude at the end of his trip.

The Holy Father has asked Catholics throughout the world to pray the rosary every day during the month of May begging Mary to petition Jesus for an end to the global pandemic. These rosaries are being prayed in holy places throughout the world. On the evening of May 17, the rosary will be prayed from our own Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Pope Francis has asked for a global Marian-thon in May.

Pope Francis has added three new invocations to the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are Mother of Mercy, Mother of Hope, and Solace of Migrants. Certainly, with the heart of a mother, Mary has a deep concern for migrants (immigrants, refugees, exiles) in every place of our world.

Finally, Pope Francis has added to the Liturgical Calendar the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Church, which is celebrated on the Monday after the Solemn Feast of Pentecost.

Pope Francis’ example has deepened my love for Mary. I believe that Mary holds such a beautiful place in our Church because she reminds us of the feminine dimension of the Divine. Our Church is patriarchal in its governance but we all realize that the masculine must always be balanced by the feminine. God is like a father and God is like a mother. The intense devotion of people through the ages to Mary reminds us of this reality.

Mary is also not a wallflower – all meek and mild, clothed in blue plaster of Paris, so to speak. Mary is a passionate Mother who stands on the side of the powerless and the voiceless – that is on the side of our poor sisters and brothers. Her Magnificat proclaims that the powerful will be thrown off their thrones and that the poor will be raised to high places. She challenges the status quo.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, we give thanks to the Lord for the gift of Mary and all of our mothers, who care for, protect, support and understand us. Every one of us has a primal need to be mothered.

Thanks, Blessed Mary and Moms. We love you so very, very much!

Father Bill +

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