We Catholics do not worship Mary; we ask her to pray for us. To those who did not know her destiny, Mary probably seemed like an ordinary teenager when she became the Mother of God. And yet, Mary was the most extraordinary woman who ever lived. How wonderful that our Church cherishes the unique role she played in bearing and raising the Son of God and the Savior of our world. She kept her faith all the way to the foot of her son's cross.
At the end of Mass, we choristers processed out of the church and into the humid spring air, singing "Immaculate Mary." Ahead of us were the altar servers and our pastor. Following behind us were the children in the catechism program, their parents, and any parishioner who wanted to join in. C.J., a third-grade boy, carried the crowns of flowers on a lace pillow.
We left the church singing and were confronted with the sight of traffic moving along our town's central avenue. We kept singing as we walked past the roar of the large air-conditioning unit on the side of the church and watched as some parishioners drove out of the parking lot. Finally, our troupe arrived at the parish prayer garden, which sits between the church and our parish center. The children laid flowers at the foot of the statue of Mary.
I couldn't snap a photo of Emily, my friend's daughter and designated coronator, putting the crowns of flowers on Mary and her infant Jesus because just then the choir had to sing "Regina Coeli," an ancient Latin Marian hymn But I did manage to snap a photo with my cell phone moments before the crowning.
I felt full of joy as I participated in this lovely devotion. The parish where I grew up abandoned it in the aftermath of Vatican II. In fact, I never even had heard of a May Crowning until I married my husband 17 years ago. Like me, Greg is a lifelong Catholic. Our current parish has revived this tradition, but for the last several years it has had to host it indoors because of rain.
When the procession and the hymns and the crowning were over, our parish catechitecal leader lingered in the garden to readjust the crowns so they wouldn't fall off. Such a simple act of devotion.