Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Sunday Within Ascension’s Octave-4 May AD 2008

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today!
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May

Ordinary of the Mass
Sunday Mass Text - Latin
Sunday Mass Text - English

Quotation from Monsignor Ronald Knox,
The Belief of Catholics

Read the Entire Book!

    August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and includes the feast of her bodily Assumption into heaven-a dogma of our Catholic Faith. October is dedicated to her Rosary, as indeed is our church. But of all the months, May is the month most especially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Yesterday we celebrated her feast as Queen of the Apostles. At the end of the month we observe her feast as Queen of All Saints. The Roman Missal contains a Mass honoring her as Mediatrix of All Graces, and as Our Lady Help of Christians, which are offered in many churches of the Catholic world. The feast of her Most Pure Heart will fall in May this year due to the early date of Easter.[1]

    Today we will crown our statue of Our Lady of Fatima, another feast day observed in May. For mostly practical reasons, we remove the crown at the beginning of Passion week in order to drape the statue in purple. But, perhaps, it is also fitting that Mary, as Queen of Sorrows for her suffering Son, wears no crown during the time of His Passion and Death. The custom of crowning goes back to the 1500s when “Pope Clement VIII added two crowns to the icon of Mary with the Infant Jesus in the Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome. The crowns were eventually lost, but were replaced by Gregory XVI in 1837 in a rite that was to become the standard practice for crowning.”[2]


    For many years the May crowning was conducted in the open air, on parish lawns with a statue of Mary, with children from the parish school carrying hawthorn flowers to decorate the statue.[3]   A crown of flowers or of golden metal might be blessed at the altar and carried in procession by the smallest girl in the class-the tallest would then place the crown on the Virgin’s head. This was a marvelous mixture of rural pageantry with the rite of the Roman Pontifical. We will use the Pontifical today, and pray fervently that one day God will provide the church, the school, and an army of children for our procession.

    The praise of Mary is something that comes naturally for Catholics, of both the Eastern and Western Rites, and finds a very similar expression among the Eastern Orthodox, who are not in union with Rome. The Catholics and the Orthodox have been separated for nearly a thousand years, but we hold in common beliefs which go back to the earliest days of the Church. In this connection, it is interesting to note that we share many common beliefs about the Son of Mary, our Lord Jesus Christ. The religions of the Protestant Reformation complain that we falsely make Mary into a goddess by our honoring her. So did some of the factions of the early Church, particularly a group called the Nestorians.

    Monsignor Ronald Knox, a convert from the Anglican church in the early twentieth century suggested that those Christians who downplay the honor due to Mary do so because their understanding of her Son Jesus Christ is defective.[4]   Monsignor Knox wrote, “They have said that we deify her; that is not because we exaggerate the eminence of God's Mother, but because they belittle the eminence of God.” This was particularly true in the early Church when it was attended by debate as to the nature of our Lord. Was He God or man or both? Was He God being carried around in a human’s body as in a receptacle? Did He have a human will or a divine will or both? Could one will be in conflict with the other? Did He actually possess human nature? Did He possess a human soul, or did His divinity take the place of that spiritual element? Wrong answers to these questions about Jesus Christ invariably led to errors about His Blessed Mother in early centuries-other wrong answers about Jesus Christ held by rationalist Protestantism led likewise to dishonor His Mother in more modern times.

    “They refuse to honor the God-bearing Woman because their Christ is only a God-bearing Man.” To the heretics of the early years who thought that Christ was a mere creature, carrying around within Himself a mere “spark” or “emanation” of God’s divinity, Mary could be nothing more than the mother of this favored creature. Only when one realizes that Jesus Christ is the uncreated Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and that He took all of His material human existence from the Virgin Mary, is it possible to realize that She bore and delivered God Himself and thus deserves to be called the “Mother of God” at least in time if not eternity. Among Rationalist Protestants and Modernists, there is again the urge to see Christ as a mere man-a great philosopher, perhaps, but a mere man-minus all of the miracles.

    Rationalists and Modernists falsely claim that “the Christ of history” was a mere man, and that “the Christ of faith” is no more than a pleasant fiction that grew up amongst His followers during the decades following His death and non-resurrection. For such people, Mary was no more than the natural mother of a sometimes troublesome man.

    “How can this man give us His flesh to eat and blood to drink?” murmured the Jews at Capharnaum.[5]   For those who refuse to believe that Jesus could give us His true body and blood-for those who refuse to believe His words at the Last Supper, “This is My body ... This is My blood”-it is impossible to believe that the young virgin could bring forth that very same body and blood, soul and divinity from herself as Mother of God. For those who believe that the Holy Eucharist is nothing more than a symbol, it is like attributing miracles to Mary, while refusing to believe that Jesus Himself worked any miracles at all.

    Knox again writes, “A creature miraculously preserved from sin by the indwelling power of the Holy Ghost-that is to them a divine title, because that is all the claim their grudging theologies will concede, often enough, to our Lord Himself.” For those who think of Jesus Christ as a mere creature, bearing a “divine spark,” it might be possible to think of Him refraining from sin-but the Immaculate Conception, sinless life, and glorious Assumption of His Mother is beyond what they will allow.

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today!
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May

    In no way does our honor of Mary detract from the honor of God, the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost. Everything praiseworthy in Mary comes from the humility that caused her to cooperate absolutely with the will of God-the humility that so attracted God and drew Him down to be Her Son. To praise Mary, God’s most perfect human creature, is to praise God.

    Let us give the last word again to Monsignor Knox: “... the honor done to [God’s] creature of perfect Womanhood [will not] prejudice the honor due to Him. Touchstone of truth in the ages of controversy, romance of the medieval world, she has not lost with the rise of new devotions, any fragment of her ancient glory. Other lights may glow and dim as the centuries pass, she cannot suffer change; and when a Catholic ceases to honor her, he ceases to be a Catholic.

    With that in mind,

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today!
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May


[1]  Saturday after the Octave of Corpus Christi.


[3]  Picture:

[4]  Quotations from Monsignor Ronald Knox, The Belief of Catholics are in italics.  The entire book is available as a text file at the EWTN website:

[5]  Cf. John vi: 53.


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