Honoring Mary during May has special significance this year Print
Thursday, May. 04, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

For many centuries, Catholics have devoted the month of May to Mary. Both in our churches and in our homes, we offer special prayers to Our Lady and honor her as our spiritual mother.

This year, this month takes on special significance. On May 13, we will mark the 100th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady to three shepherd children in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal.

Pope Francis will visit Fatima and canonize two of the children, Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The third child — their cousin, Sr. Lucia dos Santos — is also being considered for canonization.

This week’s Catholic Herald includes a special section with information on the apparitions at Fatima. Like many of you, I am learning more about what happened there and its significance right up to the present day.

Mary appears to children

It is interesting that Mary appeared to these three children. She has often made herself known to young people. Another example is her appearance to St. Bernadette at Lourdes.

The writer Elizabeth Scalia says, “Perhaps the answer is that as we grow older, and become educated, our minds lose the capacity to see what reason and logic tell us should not exist. Or perhaps she goes to children because, aside from their openness, their motives cannot easily be dismissed as mercenary, or self-serving.”

Mary may even be appearing to more people than we know. It could be that some don’t share their experience, or some even doubt it.

Following Our Lady’s message

It seems that Our Lady’s main message to the children at Fatima was to pray, specifically to pray the Rosary. She said, “Say the Rosary every day, to bring peace to the world.”

Is that something we could start during this month of May? Some of us may pray the Rosary once in awhile, or maybe on a regular basis. But how about doing it every day?

I use a Rosary which was blessed by St. John Paul II during an audience I attended in Rome in 2004. Every time I pray the Rosary, I think of this holy man who himself had a special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima and the Rosary.

In fact, St. John Paul II credits Our Lady with saving his life in the assassination attempt on May 13, 1981 (note it was on the anniversary of Mary’s appearance at Fatima). The pope went to Fatima and placed the bullet used in the attempt in the statue’s crown.

Pope Francis likewise has a strong devotion to Mary, based in part on the witness of St. John Paul II. Pope Francis recites 15 mysteries of the Rosary every day.

Our world does need peace. Let’s make a commitment to heed our Lady’s message and pray the Rosary every day or as often as possible.