The month of May is “a month which the piety of the faithful has long dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God,” explains Pope Paul VI, Menso Maio, April 29, 1965. “For this is the month during which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God’s merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother’s throne.”
This Christian custom of dedicating the month of May to the Blessed Virgin arose at the end of the 13th century. In this way, the Church was able to Christianize the secular feasts which were wont to take place at that me. In the 16th century, books appeared and fostered this devotion.
The practice became especially popular among the members of the Jesuit Order — by 1700 it took hold among their students at the Roman College and a bit later it was publicly practiced in the Gesu Church in Rome. From there it spread to the whole Church.
In the church, May is also the month of motherhood. It is the month in which we celebrate the motherhood of Mary. Mary, who by becoming the Mother of God, assumed a special role in our lives and became a mother to us all. For those outside the Catholic Church this can seem a foreign concept. After all, how can a woman, a mere mortal, who lived 2000 years ago, be a mother to us all.
However, through our relationship with Jesus, we have become adopted sons and daughters of the Father (Ephesians 1:5) making us the brothers of Christ. Hence, His mother has also become our mother by this adoption. And this adoptive motherhood is true motherhood.
Due to the springing of blooms in Israel and the Northern Hemisphere, the month of May was adopted by the Church in the 18th century as a celebration of the flowering of Mary’s maidenly spirituality. “In the medieval period, the rose was adopted as the flower symbol of the Virgin Birth.
It is fittng that we today celebrate Mother’s Day for our earthly mothers in the month of May as well. The fruitfulness of motherhood has so much in common with the blossoming of early spring. Just as the earth cradles and conceals a seed within, so does a mother cradle and conceal the miraculous gift of life in the womb. Both nurture life from the depths of their own resources through long periods of invisible growth that it might shoot forth with vibrant colours of life.
Everyone needs a mother. As we honour our earthly mothers and their sacrifices, we pray that we also recall the love of our heavenly mother through the use of one of these devotions.
The following practices are approved by the Magisterium and offered as suggestions for honouring Mary during the month of May such as: Angelus Domini; Regina Coeli; The Rosary; The Brown Scapular and other Scapulars; Medals; Consecration and Entrustment to Mary.
(Excerpted from the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, Catholic online.com)