Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May for Mary


May 13 marks the date of Our Lady's first apparition at Fatima to the 3 shepherd children:  Lucia, Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta.  For us, observance of this special occasion mainly consisted in attending evening Holy Mass at the beautiful church up the hill, Our Lady of Victories, followed by the Rosary candlelit procession.  It was certainly a chilly night; nevertheless, we all felt very priviledged to be part of the grace-filled celebration.


For our Learning Centre I constructed a little mountable shrine featuring Our Lady Help of Christians using laminated pictures, recycled polystyrene squares, cotton wool balls and a shoe box.  The reason why I made it myself was because the children were scheduled to have this activity at their next meeting in their Catholic kids club (a suggestion very kindly accommodated by their facilitators); and there, they each constructed their own shrines with the kits containing the abovementioned materials.

(Apart from the 2 angels bearing Our Lady's crown atop our little shrine, the image is one of a painting by Thomas Lorenzone as commissioned by St John Bosco based on his vision of Our Lady Help of Christians which took 3 years to complete and now appears above the main altar at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, Italy.  Of the image (AS SEEN BELOW), St Don Bosco gives this description:  "Our Lady stands out in the center bathed in light and majesty. She is surrounded by ranks of Angels, who are doing her honor as their Queen. In her right hand she holds a scepter, the symbol of her power, and on her left arm she carries the Child with His arms outstretched as a sign of the graces and mercy He offers to all who have recourse to His royal Mother. At each side and underneath are the Holy Apostles and Evangelists, exalted in ecstasy as though exclaiming: "Queen of Apostles, pray for us" while gazing in wonder at the Holy Virgin. At the lower part of the painting is shown a portion of the City of Turin, with the Sanctuary of Valdocco in the foreground and the Sanctuary of Superga in the rear. )

Kids working on their projects

with welcome assistance from facilitators

Now with their finished shrines!
(L to R:  Jet, Chad, Therese, Celine, Alainn, Lianna, Maurice and RJ)

(BELOW:  Singing a hymn to Our Lady and crowning her at the end)

Closing prayer

In honour of Mary Help of Christians whose feastday actually falls on May 24, we are looking forward to joining a group pilgrimage to Our Lady's Shrine at Canungra on the 21st of this month.  It should be another fun and faith-filled day!


Because May is Our Lady's month, it is always good to have school and/or family activities centred on her.  Besides, she IS the best example for us who want to live according to God's holy will.  

This is, then, the perfect time to bring out great reading materials on our Blessed Mother, and one of these is an excellent book based on St Louis de Montfort's work:  Leading the Little Ones to Mary.  School hours, for us, are usually packed with activities, so nighttime before bed provides the best time for reading it out loud to the kiddies.  After all, how special it is for them to have thoughts of Our Lady filling their little minds just before they close their eyes!!

We are halfway through May already, so before the month finally draws to a close, I am hoping to fit in a few more devotional activities to enrich not only the children's Marian spirituality, but also ours as a family. 

Don Bosco's Prayer to Our Lady, Help of Christians

Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christians,
how sweet it is to come to your feet
imploring your perpetual help.
If earthly mothers cease not to remember their children,
How can you, the most loving of all mothers forget me?
Grant then to me, I implore you,
your perpetual help in all my necessities,
in every sorrow, and especially in all my temptations.
I ask for your unceasing help for all who are now suffering.
Help the weak, cure the sick, convert sinners.
Grant through your intercessions
many vocations to the religious life.
Obtain for us, O Mary, Help of Christians,
that having invoked you on earth we may love and eternally thank you in heaven.

Maria, Auxilium Christianorum, ora pro nobis!