Yesterday our school celebrated the May Crowning of Mary. May is known as the "Marian Month." It is the month when we celebrate all mothers, especially our Blessed Mother. At our school, we have a May Court with an 8th grader as the Queen of Court and her attendants from 8th grade and kindergarten. Our school has over 600 students. Year after year, they have pulled off the same feat of honoring Mary.
All students dress in their school dress uniform, except for the second graders who dress in their First Holy Communion outfits. All students exit the school building in a silent and reverent manner, with rosaries in hand. We lined up by grade on the blacktop as we assembled to march in the May procession. Each grade prayed the Rosary as we walked the 6 blocks from the school to the Church. We processed behind our school banner, priests, the May Court, and flower attendants. As we walked, we prayed the Rosary. I couldn't hear the traffic. I couldn't hear the construction. All I could hear was hundreds of children raising their voices in prayer. They prayed the Rosary over and over again as they walked to church.
Jesus said, "let the little children come to me." They came. Oh boy, did they come, with rosaries in hand and angelic voices in song we began our Crowning Ceremony. The school sang the song, "Gentle Woman" which includes the Hail Mary prayer. We prayed the Litany of Mary and the Queen of Court climbed a ladder to place the crown on Mary's head before accepting dozens of flower bouquets from classroom representatives that were laid at the foot of the altar.
Not only did we celebrate Mother's Day this year, but we also celebrated the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady's apparition in Fatima. Pope Francis traveled to Fatima, Portugal where he canonized 2 of the children, Jacinta and Francisco. In Our Lady's apparition, she strongly encouraged the children to pray for the forgiveness of sins and the conversion of sinners. There were 3 "Fatima Secrets" revealed during her apparitions. One was a prophetic vision about a man dressed in white who would be shot but saved. This man was St. Pope John Paul II. A bullet nearly missed every major organ and artery during an attempted assassination.
I highly recommend the book, "Fatima for Today" by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R. (Ignatius Press) This book gives in-depth and riveting detail about the lives of the three young shepherd children Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco. They were shepherd children no older than 9 years old. The children were scrutinized, threatened and questioned about their visions.
The book gives a thorough account of the Fatima miracle, known as the "Miracle of the Sun." In 1917, fifty-five thousand people were gathered at the Cova da Iria in Portugal where the apparitions were occurring. One eyewitness said, "the sun started spinning and shooting streams of light, which changed it to all colors of the rainbow... at the same time, it started getting bigger and bigger as if it were starting to fall on the Earth. Everyone threw themselves on their knees and started screaming the Act of Contrition." The book, "Fatima for Today" not only reviews the history of Fatima, but it also explains many Marian Fatima devotions such as the 5 First Saturday's devotion.
The "Miracle of the Sun" was provided by God so that the thousands of people in Portugal could believe what the dear children were telling them. Faith, however, is believing without seeing. Our Blessed Mother, Mary, is the epitome of faith. She believed what the angel Gabriel said when he told her that she would bear a son. She didn't need any further proof or sign from God. She believed and she consented. When Mary said "yes" she changed the world. "May it be done to me according to your word. I am the Lord's handmaiden." (Luke 1:38)
God loves us so much that He gave us the choice of free will. Mary chose to be obedient to God's request, despite the difficulties that she would have to endure. She was only around 13 years old when she became the mother of the Son of Man. Imagine how frightened she must've been. She could have been killed for having been pregnant outside of marriage if it weren't for her betrothed, Jospeh, saving her from harm, disgrace and humiliation. We will discuss Joseph next month.
We see Mary and her example of obedience again at the Wedding of Cana. Here, the wedding feast ran out of wine. She told the servants "do whatever he [Jesus] tells you." As we know, they filled the empty jugs with water that Jesus then turned into wine. The significance of this miracle was that it was Jesus' first public miracle and the beginning of his public ministry. The words that Mary spoke are an example of obedience as we can hear her telling us today to "do whatever He tells you." May we embody the obedience and servant-like attitude of Mary out of love for Christ.