Devotions for May:
ADAPTED FROM THE BOOKLET BY LIBBY RUDOLF
Obstat and Imprimatur
Bishop Francis Noll
Ft. Wayne, IN
TO MARY, QUEEN OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, MOTHER OF GOD AND MAN,
THIS WORK IS DEDICATED IN LOVING AND GRATEFUL REVERENCE.
A SOUL SHRINE FOR MARY proposes to offer nothing novel or impractical in the way of devotion to Mary. Rather, it proposes to offer means whereby devotion to Mary be decidedly something more solid than prayers thoughtlessly recited followed by acts entirely unworthy of Mary's clients. What is herein suggested as a May devotion is a spiritualizing of daily life and an increasing or in some cases a beginning of aliveness to the fact that Mary desires nothing more than seeing souls striving to do the will of God. In his first epistle to the Thessalonians, St. Paul writes, "This is the will of God, your sanctification."
I. A Soul Shrine for Mary
A May altar---the delight of Catholic hearts. In churches Mary's altar is decked festively with flowers and candles. Souls devoted to Mary's honor seek to erect in the privacy of their home an altar to express their love for her.
While these shrines are dear to the motherly heart of our heavenly Mother, she has every right by her title of Queen and and Mother to expect that she be enshrined in every soul. Is devotion expressed only in word, never or rarely expressed in deed, proper devotion? What sort of child is it who speaks to his mother of his love for her, but never or seldom gives a thought to her wishes? Our deeds attest to the truth of our words.
Therefore, O Mary, while in the past we have too often considered it sufficient to pray to thee, help us now to prove our prayers by doing good and avoiding evil.
The soul being spiritual it is impossible to erect anything material within it. Consequently, the shrine within the immortal edifice of the soul must be built with the things of the spirit. Just as a spiritual bouquet is composed of various spiritual exercises and good deeds, the soul shrine to Mary will consist of prayer, acts of virtue and so on. Yes, all the details of a May altar symbolized by spiritual acts and motives.
II. The Foundation and Framework
Like all material shrines a soul shrine must have a foundation upon which it is based and a framework giving form to the whole.
All solid virtue rests on the virtue of humility. And humility is truth. And that Mary is our Mother and Queen is a truth. We are the sinful rebellious children of a sinless loving mother---another truth. A further truth follows---this mother desires, as only such a mother could desire, that these children change and become like her, sinless and loving. Let the whole-souled acceptance of these truths be the foundation of a soul shrine to Mary.
Repentant, the soul in loving sorrow raises its tear-wet eyes to the Queen-Mother and asks, "My Lady, what would you have me do?"
For Mary's answer the soul pages through the Gospel stories and finds instructions in the narrative of the wedding-feast to Jesus. Jesus replied:
"Woman, what is that to Me and to thee?" as if to recall to her their wondrous union in the work of redemption. This is to be the beginning of Christ's public miracles and Mary is to have a prominent part in them.
Ah, what is this to those Holy Two? Heaven will not be too long to dwell upon the union of Jesus and Mary in their love for God and man. By His life, sufferings and death, Christ won for us immeasurable graces which come to us through Mary's hands.
Perhaps taking her cue from Jesus' telling smile, Mary said to the waiters:
"WHATEVER HE SHALL SAY TO YOU, DO YE."
Do you now understand what Mary would have you do? She would have you do as Christ says and what does Christ ask?
What a certain Pharisee, a lawyer, in order to tempt Christ asked which was the greatest commandment in the law, Christ answered:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like to it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments depend the whole law and the prophets."
O Divine Spirit, life of the soul, illumine the darkness of our minds, strengthen the weakness of our wills, soften the hardness of our hearts that we may see, follow and love what is contained in the Two Great Commandments.
Mary, perfect in charity, pray for us!
The striking characteristic of the two great commandments is not mere sentiment, but whole-souled, whole-hearted, whole-minded action motivated by sentiments of love.
With the two great commandments the soul may form the framework of the soul shrine to Mary.
III. The Altar and Its Furnishings
An altar, flowers, vases, candles, statue and so on, go to the making of a May altar. As has been mentioned before these material details will be symbolized by spiritual acts and motives.
IV. Schedule of Time
In the erection of a soul shrine to mary orderliness is very much to be desired. There being thirty-one days in May, and according to the outline above the spiritual May altar being formed of eleven divisions, it will be advisable to set aside particular days for each division.
Each division will have three distinct parts---consideration of the virtue, appropriate prayers, practice of the virtue.
Since all divisions except one are allotted three days, it is easy for those find it too to daily practice all three points to consider the virtue one day, say the prayers the second, make a particular practice of the virtue the third day. [Suggestions will be forthcoming on page 4.]
Let it be remarked that the considerations, prayers and practices are offered as suggestions. As soul differs from soul so some may wish to make changes to suit their personal needs. The building of a soul shrine should be a loving child-like service, not something cold or formal.
Be not discouraged with your failings in the building of your personal shrine, but valiantly go on. Do not attempt too much at once. Should an entire division be missed then divide the next three days between the missed division and the one for those particular days.
Remember to ask Mary's help and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Be sorry for your failures.