by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Pope Francis on April 25 issued a letter encouraging all Catholics “to rediscover the beauty of praying the rosary at home in the month of May.”
Traditionally, May is a month of special Marian devotion. With the limitations on the availability to pray in churches because of public health concerns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a renewed and deepened understanding of the importance of family prayer.
I urge all the parishioners of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas to embrace the Holy Father’s invitation and to make a special effort to pray the rosary daily during May.
The custom of praying the rosary as a family is a beautiful tradition that can help strengthen and unite families. It can be a special time when members of the family share the true concerns of their hearts by including one another’s intentions during this time of prayer.
This invitation is also directed to individuals who live alone, as well as individuals who are the only member of their family who is willing to pray the daily rosary.
Even when we pray the rosary alone, we are never praying in isolation. We pray in communion with millions of other Catholics across the world who are embracing Our Lady’s desire for her spiritual children to unite with her through the praying of the rosary.
The daily praying of the rosary this May joins us with the successor of St. Peter, Pope Francis, who has invited Catholics all over the world to pray this Marian prayer for the end of the pandemic and for the renewal of the family.
For those looking for tools to enhance praying the rosary as a family, there are many excellent booklets offering meditations for each of the 20 mysteries of the rosary. One of my personal favorites is Dr. Edward Sri’s “The New Rosary in Scripture” that provides a scriptural verse relating to the particular mystery for each Hail Mary of the decade.
The Holy Family School of Faith daily rosary meditations are also an excellent resource, offering fresh and thoughtful meditations for each decade of the rosary that are available through links on their website to their YouTube channel or their podcast.
Archbishop Jose Gomez, the archbishop of Los Angeles and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has also called for the re-consecration of our nation to the patronage of Mary under her title, Mother of the Church. This re-consecration was scheduled for Friday, May 1.
Archbishop Gomez said: The re-consecration “will give the church the occasion to pray for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible virus.” The president of the U.S. bishops’ conference explained: “This year, we seek the assistance of Our Lady all the more earnestly as we face together the effects of the global pandemic.”
Bishop John Carroll, the first bishop of the United States, first consecrated our nation to Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception in 1792.
In 1846, the bishops of the United States chose Mary, again under the title of the Immaculate Conception, to be the principal patron for our country.
The late Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle, former archbishop of Washington, again consecrated the United States in 1959 to our Blessed Mother under her title, the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
In November 2006, the bishops of the United States renewed the consecration of our nation to Mary, entrusting our country to the Blessed Mother’s immaculate and sorrowful heart.
For centuries, May has been a special month of Marian devotion. On May 13, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, commemorating the 103rd anniversary of the first apparition of Mary at Fatima. During her appearances to the child visionaries of Portugal, Mary asked specifically for individuals and families to pray the daily rosary.
On May 31, we usually celebrate the feast of a pregnant Mary making an arduous journey to visit and assist her pregnant cousin Elizabeth.
This year the feast of the Visitation is eclipsed in the church’s liturgical calendar by the great solemnity of Pentecost, the birthday of the church. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Mary was praying with the first disciples of Jesus in the upper room when the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to go out on the streets of Jerusalem to proclaim the truth of the risen Jesus to the world.
In our secular culture, Mother’s Day is always the second Sunday of May.
In choosing to re-consecrate our nation to Mary under her title, Mother of the Church, Archbishop Gomez reminds us that Mary is our spiritual mother. From the cross on Calvary, Jesus entrusted Mary to the Apostle John, as his mother. At that incredible moment, John represented the entire church and Mary became also our spiritual mother.
A couple of years ago, Pope Francis designated the Monday after Pentecost as the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church. What a blessing to be under Mary’s maternal protection, especially during these challenging times.
To consecrate something or someone is to set them apart for a sacred purpose. Consecrating ourselves to Mary is a way of entrusting ourselves to her care and allowing her to draw us closer to her son Jesus. This is always Mary’s desire — to draw us closer to her son, our brother and Lord.
It was at Mary’s request that Jesus performed his first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana. Let us go to Jesus with Mary, bringing all of the burdens and anxieties in our hearts during this moment of international crisis.
With Mary alongside us, we have nothing to fear. Through Mary’s intercession, may the Holy Spirit renew and strengthen our faith and families. May Mary draw us closer to Jesus, who desires to cast out all fear from our heart. Mary, Mother of the Church and our mother, pray for us!