It seems impossible to look at the calendar and find ourselves in May. May, the month of Mary and May crownings and flowers in bloom. A month that should be busy with graduations and Memorial Day picnics and all sorts of celebrations. It’s a strange May. It’s been a strange spring. But all the birdsongs and blooming things out the window remind us that some things haven’t changed. This is still the Easter season. And May is still Mary’s month.
I’ve always had an affection for my namesake, Mary. As a little girl I particularly loved to read one of the stories out of our old, blue-bound “Catholic Stories for Boys and Girls” book. While the details of the story have grown fuzzy with age, I can’t forget the central image. The story so vividly described praying the rosary as a way of weaving a crown of unfading, heavenly roses for Our Lady. I didn’t understand much of the mysteries of the rosary, but my little-girl heart was captivated by that image.
Lost In the Weeds
In the midst of this lockdown I’ve been taking a lot of rosary walks lately. At the end of almost every work-from-home workday I shut my laptop, grab my rosary, and hit the trails. The practice keeps me sane, and reminds me that there’s a world outside the four walls of my apartment. But as days turned to weeks I found myself not so much praying the rosary as simply saying it. The words of the prayers became a mere background noise while my mind ran through the worries and concerns of the day. I tried to fix my attention on the mysteries, but invariably I found myself back in the weeds of my own thoughts time and again.
One evening in particular, as I was praying through the sorrowful mysteries, I found my mind wandering off into those same old thorny anxious thoughts. But the Lord caught my eye when we reached the third mystery: the Crowning with Thorns. In that moment I saw through the tangle of my own thoughts and into the face of Christ. And in that moment I could hear Mary offering me a gentle encouragement: give Jesus His crown back.
In the Hands of Mary
I had been wearing those worries like a crown on my head. As though I was in control. As though I, by my own thinking, could solve the concerns of the world. But the only thing it accomplished was to hide my eyes from Christ. In keeping my eyes on the concerns of the world (and there sure are plenty) I had forgotten that He is King, He is sovereign over everything in my life. To give back to Jesus that thorny crown is to claim his sovereignty once again.
Still, it seemed too cruel to place that mocking crown of thorns back on His head. Too cruel until I remembered that it would pass through the hands of Mary. Recalling that crown of heavenly roses that so captivated my young heart, I knew that behind the fragrant beauty, every rose has its thorn. In a mysterious way Mary’s crown IS Christ’s crown. But she has that tender and motherly capacity to take what is difficult and make it beautiful.
Today our bishops renewed the consecration of our nation to the protection of Mary. Today let us take up our rosaries and join them. Let us consecrate our parishes, our neighborhoods, our families, and our homes to her motherly protection. In this month of Mary may we take our Mother’s hand and walk through the mysteries of life with her. And with confidence let us allow her to take whatever is thorny and difficult in our lives and make it into something beautiful too.
Copyright 2020 Mary Conway