May is traditionally a month honoring Our Lady. It is a common practice to construct a May altar to honor her, and to hold May crownings of statues of Our Lady. May also tends to be the month that Catholic children receive their First Holy Communions, and that some Catholic schools hold graduations or their last classes. Not only this, but often the Easter season extends through or ends some time during May, with Pentecost seeming to come out of nowhere! This can make for some problems that are unique to only Catholics!
Have you ever had a “Catholic problem” in May? Tell us what it was in the comment box!
Mary’s crown doesn’t fit
It happens sometimes. The best of intentions to honor Our Lady get awkward when her crown doesn’t fit her head. Sometimes this means it is precariously placed, and if it is on a statue in the sanctuary, it becomes a great distraction during Mass. “Will it fall off?” “I hope Father doesn’t bump it!” A particular cross for the OCD parishioners, crooked crowns and lopsided flower rings are a huge eyesore! The temptation to just go up and fix it already is real!
The “crowner” can’t reach Mary’s head
It is a little Catholic girl’s dream to crown the Blessed Mother during a May crowning ceremony. Whether it is after Mass, at a special Catholic school assembly, or a parish event, usually the young lady chosen to crown Our Lady has earned the honor. Sometimes though, the crowning itself becomes a moment of tension when the young lady can’t actually reach Mary’s head! Poorly placed ladders or step stools, a miscalculation by some adults, or a nervous child can all be the accidental culprits. How will the young lady who is now front and center handle the problem? That usually comes down to personality and how she thinks in the moment. Will she toss the crown and hope it lands well? Will she teeter precariously on the edge of a ladder or stool? Will she lean so far over that an adult has to grab the back of her dress to prevent a fall? Or will she troubleshoot on the spot and come up with a different solution? Either way, those in attendance will be holding their breath!
To many nerves on First Holy Communion Day
It is bound to happen. All the preparation. All the practicing. All the learning and praying that precedes the day that children receive their First Holy Communion is bound to create some nervousness in some children. Whether it is the special care paid to beautiful white dresses or spiffy new suits, trying to remember the added special touches to the Liturgy, or feeling like they are in the spotlight, the nervousness-mixed-with-excitement children experience before receiving Jesus for the first time is definitely unique to Catholics. Thankfully the nerves are nothing compared to the joy, wonder, and the reality that they have received Our Lord in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Isn’t it amazing to be Catholic?
Is it still Easter?
Catholics LOVE a good, long, liturgical season of joy, and the Easter season gives us just that! However, as it nears Pentecost, it can become tricky to remember to continue celebrating our Paschal joy. Sometimes the fifty days of the Easter Season can become disorienting, and more than a few Catholics have asked, “Is it still Easter?” when the sprinkling rite at Holy Mass seems to have been occurring for months! Our Lord knew what He was doing when He ascended to the Father forty days after Easter, and then sent the Paraclete ten days after His ascension—giving us fifty days of Eastertide!
The May Altar becomes a May disaster
It is a beautiful traditional act of piety to construct a May altar in one’s home. Often the mother of the family instructs children in how to assist her in assembling it. Candles, flowers, special tablecloths or runners, objects of devotion, and a crown for Our Lady tend to be staples. Sometimes though, the May altar resembles more of a May disaster. Toddlers who grab and rearrange the altar, children who just want to light the candles AGAIN, or flowers that prematurely droop and can’t be replaced soon enough are all culprits. Thankfully Our Lady, the perfect mother, is touched by our efforts and not necessarily the end result!
All my friends are still in school!
While more typical in June, in some areas of the country public schools are letting out in early June, and parochial or Catholic schools let out even earlier and some at the end of May! Some Diocese do not follow the public school calendar, and so their last days of school and graduation days are earlier than the public schools in their areas. This is at once a blessing and a let down. Children absolutely love getting out of school and enjoy flaunting their “earlier” release from academics to their public schooled friends. However it can be a bit of downer when the rest of the community isn’t in “summer mode” yet, and friends are still stuck in classrooms and awaiting their own last days of the school year! Truly a “Catholic problem.”
I almost forgot Mother’s Day!
While this isn’t a “problem” unique to Catholics, and this may be an attempt to remind you that it is this month, all the extra events and happy milestones that May can bring can often eclipse Mother’s Day. To compound that problem, moms will be the first ones to tell you that it’s okay, ignore the holiday (even if it is a manufactured one!), and then revel in the joy of their children’s or grandchildren’s First Holy Communions, May Crownings, and graduations. They will be the ones planning the Pentecost parties, and making sure those new suits (or Easter clothes being worn again) are cleaned and pressed, and that Mary’s crown fits well in her home on her family’s May altar. So this May, don’t forget to tell your earthly mother that you love her and do something to honor her, too!
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