May is the month dedicated to Mary, our Mother. It is such a perfect month for her, as the trees come into full bloom this month, the birds come out of hiding and sing their morning hymns, and the flowers wake up and greet us with their beauty. How lovely is our Lady! Our Mother who loves each of us dearly. Our Queen who gently guides us to her Son’s Heart. Our friend who walks beside us through all of life’s hilltops and valleys.
Over the years, we have done some different things to help grow our devotion to our Lady as a family. I wanted to share some of them with you…. perhaps some of them will work well for your family too. I hope at least they bring a smile to your day. 🙂
The Rosary Hanger – Since our family is more on the larger size, we have a lot of rosaries. The kids have their special ones in their rooms, but we have a boatload of plastic rosaries. We decided to put up a little rosary holder. It is a simple key chain holder that you attach to the wall; it probably cost under $3. But, it keeps the rosaries in one place and untangled. It also is a visible reminder for us to pray. And when friends come over, they can pick out their own rosary to pray with us. I would recommend hanging (with anchors) low enough that your toddler who is rising up in independence can reach them… otherwise you could wind up with a whole in the wall. 🙂 It’s been a great conversation piece, a good little “job” we can give a little one to organize it, and again, a reminder. Because we are a tangible people. God made us with our senses – seeing the rosary, going over to pick one out, holding the rosary and moving our fingers along the beads as we pray – it is a very human thing, and a very kid-friendly practice. When our Lady gave St. Dominic the rosary, I am sure she had little children in mind.
Crowning of Mary – We have had a variety of crownings of our Mary statues throughout the years. Children might make their own dandelion crowns for the outdoor statue, or we might weave together one of mini flowers from a craft store, or this year we sang a hymn and placed the actual golden crown on our Lady of Fatima statue after a rosary together. However it is done, no matter how simple, it has been a beautiful tradition and one that our kids will remember.
Balloon Rosary – This is more something to do as a Catholic school or parish community, but it is beautiful. We had some dear sisters who would organize this at one of our schools, and the school children would all gather in the schoolyard to pray the rosary, holding onto many balloons tried together in the shape of the rosary. At the end, the children would let go and let the balloon rosary float to the heavens…. it was such a joy to be a parent on the sidelines, praying with our school and picturing our Lady smiling down on all those sweet children.
Plays – Also at a parish we attended, the children prepared and performed a play of Our Lady of Fatima, teaching through drama the story of these three little children who saw our Lady. Our kiddos got to be a part of it, and so they got a lot out of it. But also, the parish did too. Children can teach us so much, can’t they? They can remind us of the goodness of God in their simple way.
Marian Hymns – Music has always been a part of our life together. And there are so many beautiful songs to our Lady. So, we make it a point in May to sing some of them.
Marian Prayers – And… there are beautiful prayers to our Lady! The other night, we gathered for family prayer, and after our other prayers, we went around the room and each person led the rest of us in their favorite Marian prayer. We had the Hail Mary, the Ave Maris Stella, the Memorare, and others. It was nice for our kids to lead the family in a prayer, and also to see what prayers really speak to them.
Marian Celebration – We love to throw a good potluck celebration, tied in with a little prayer and maybe a short catechesis on a part of our faith or the story of a saint. We call them “Prayer & Potluck.” Many of our potlucks have included a decade of the rosary, or a crowning, or a little talk on our Lady. Potlucks are the best! Easier on the host, and makes the people who come feel like they helped with the party…. because what fun would a party be without food? Everyone comes and brings something to eat… and everyone eats well. There is such variety in the food, and people are happy to share what they have or try a new recipe. It is also a great way to invite a bunch of people from different groups in your life to come together to pray and have fellowship. Maybe because you hosted a “Prayer and Potluck” in your home two people met and became good friends, or something said that day encourages someone to go deeper in their faith, or someone who has been feeling quite alone finally felt like they were part of a community… finding others who also are walking the faith journey and knowing they are not alone. The building up of the Kingdom of God. That’s what it’s all about.
Moon Bounce – And last but not least – why not celebrate our Lady’s special day with a moon bounce? One year we had a gift certificate from a school auction for a moon bounce rental. And so we thought how great it would be to use it to add to the celebration of Our Lady of Fatima day on May 13th on the 100th anniversary of our Lady appearing to the shepherd children! So, we decided to go all out. We invited a ton of people and did everything – an outdoor rosary, a May crowning, most likely a Marian hymn, a big potluck…. AND a moon bounce. It was a perfect weather kind of day, and so many people came. We prayed, we ate, we laughed, and all the kids who came went home happy and exhausted from all the bouncing… and hopefully slept in the next day for their parents. It was a fun way to celebrate. We won’t always be able to go all out on a moon bounce – but a 100th anniversary comes once in a lifetime, right? And it’s so important to have balance in this Catholic life. There must be joy!
Happy Thursday, y’all!