The world’s superpowers were locked in a showdown. Deadlocked in this manner, the two leaders of the world’s greatest nuclear superpowers stared each other down for seven days – until Khrushchev blinked. On October 28, 1962, thinking better of prolonging his challenge to the United States, the Russian Premier conceded to President Kennedy’s demands by ordering all Soviet supply ships away from Cuban waters and agreeing to remove the missiles from Cuba’s mainland. After several days of teetering on the brink of nuclear holocaust, the world breathed a sigh of relief.
These events were particularly scary for myself, a 9-year-old. In school we would practice air raid drills, hiding either under our desks or seeking shelter in the school basement.
Now, as Paul Harvey, famous radio commentator, would say, “The rest of the story.” As the world awaited its pending doom, the United States Conference of Bishops called for a day of prayer. The Diocese of Sioux City, in response, called for a day of prayer. A prayer march was to take place from the Sioux City Plaza and proceed to Briar Cliff College. We would gather, march while praying the rosary, and a prayer service would conclude the event.
Torrential rains threatened the event. We were all huddled in our cars. Minutes before the march, the rains subsided. We emerged from the shelter of our cars and formed for the march. At the prescribed time, we began our march and prayed the rosary. The prayer service concluded the event and when it was over we all walked quietly back to our cars. Once in our cars, the clouds opened and the rains resumed. A few days later, the crisis came to an end.
All due to the power of prayer and the intersession of our Blessed Mother, I observed my first miracles: the rains stopping long enough for us to march and the end of a frightening world crisis.
This was not the first time our Holy Mother interceded in a crisis between two nations. In the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571, Christian forces destroyed the Turkish fleet in the Gulf of Lepanto. This victory was attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom rosaries were offered and processions were made in Rome on the day of the battle.
The month of May is set aside by the Church as a month to honor our Blessed Mother Mary. Pope Paul VI wrote a short encyclical in 1965 using the Month of Mary devotion as a means of obtaining prayers for peace. He urged the faithful to make use of this practice which is “gladdening and consoling: and by which the Blessed Virgin Mary is honored and the Christian people are enriched with spiritual gifts.” (Paul VI: Encyclical on the Month of May, No. 2)
In May of 2002 St. John Paul II said, “Today we begin the month dedicated to Our Lady, a favorite of popular devotion. In accord with a long-standing tradition of devotion, parishes and families continue to make the month of May a ‘Marian’ month, celebrating it with many devout liturgical, catechetical and pastoral initiatives!”
The following practices are recommended by the Magisterium as suggestions for honoring Our Blessed Mother during Her month:
• Pray the Rosary, one of the most excellent prayers to the Mother of God. Biblically inspired prayer which is centered on the contemplation of the saving events of Christ’s life, and their close association with His Mother.
• Recite Litanies of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a long series of invocations to Our Lady, which follow a uniform rhythm, creating a stream of prayer marked by praise and supplication.
• Make a Consecration and Entrustment to Mary. Popes throughout the ages have expressed appreciation for the pious practice of “consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
Louis de Montfort is one of the great masters of the spirituality underlying the act of “consecration to Mary.” He “proposed to the faithful consecration to Jesus through Mary, as an effective way of living out their baptismal commitment.”
33 Days to Morning Glory by Father Michael E. Gaitley is a contemporary book guiding the retreatant to the “consecration to Mary.” Visit www.allheartsafire.org for more information.
• Brown Scapulars or Medals, these are witnesses of faith and a sign of veneration of the Holy Mother of God, as well as trust in her maternal protection.
At the wedding feast of Cana we learn that Jesus performed His first of many miracles. In John’s Gospel we learn of Mary interceding, also for the first time. In Stephen K. Ray’s book St. John’s Gospel he quotes St. Alphonsus: “To understand Mary’s great goodness, let us remember what the Gospel says…There was a shortage of wine, which naturally worried the married couple. No one asks the blessed Virgin to intervene and request her Son to come to the rescue of the couple. But Mary’s heart cannot but take pity on the unfortunate couple…it stirs her to act as intercessor and ask her Son for the miracle, even though no one asks her to…If our Lady acted like this without being asked, what would she not have done if they actually asked her to intervene?’ (St. Alphonsus, Sunday Sermons, 48).”
“Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings…she acts as a mediatrix” (mediator in the redemptive salvation of her son Jesus Christ) “not as an outsider, but in her position as mother. She knows that as such she can point out to her Son the needs of mankind, and in fact, she ‘has the right’ to do so. Her mediation is thus in the nature of intercession: Mary ‘intercedes’ for mankind.”(St. John’s Gospel, Stephen K. Ray, pg.76.)
During the Month of May, let us honor our Blessed Mother Mary and implore her intercession – whether our needs are of global proportions or the simple aching of our heart.
Author: Deacon Monty Montagne