Celebrate Mary as the First to Hear God’s Word and Observe It
By Bishop David J. Malloy
The Catholic faith has long taken great pride in celebrating the month of May as a month especially dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
With the passing of the cold and the snow during May nature turns to new life, at least in our part of the world. Plants pop up from the ground. Bushes and trees turn green once more. And animal life produces the next generation of birds and fish and fawns.
That is certainly part of the context of celebrating Mary in May. She is the mother of Jesus. By His will, she has been made the mother of us all. We are the new life joined to Jesus through Mary. 
Even more, God’s will in creating the human race is that He created the family as the context for new life. That means both the human family at large and our own individual families are from God’s design. The role of Mary was at the heart of that aspect of Jesus’s coming among us. 
Jesus told His followers, however, that Mary’s physical motherhood was not her greatest gift. Rather, He said that blessed was she who heard the word of God and observed it. (see Lk 11:28). In short, Mary’s greatest gift was to be the new Eve. Except this time she remained sinless, fully united to God’s will. Mary is the perfect disciple.
While they are not feasts of Mary celebrated in May, there are two special celebrations of Mary that would serve us well for reflection during this month of Mary. Those are the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (celebrated on June 29 this year) and the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (celebrated Sept. 15).
When we honor the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we recall that the heart is not simply a superficial emotional center of the person. It is the depth of our conscience and our identity. The heart is where we most intimately encounter the presence of God.
By honoring Mary’s Immaculate Heart we celebrate a human dwelling that fully and perfectly received Jesus. That heart was pure in thought, in action and in giving of herself fully to God.
It raises an important question for each of us. How immaculate is my heart? None of us is sinless like Mary. But does my heart reflect and strive to respond to God’s love and friendship completely and without sin? Is my heart one with Christ and with His Catholic Church?
The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows recalls to us the words that Mary heard from Simeon when he held the child Jesus at the Presentation in the Temple. He told her, “and you yourself a sword will pierce” (Lk 2:35). Simeon foretold that even as the mother of Jesus and as the perfect disciple, Mary would not be spared her share in Jesus’ suffering. 
How she must have reacted to the insults hurled at Jesus during His ministry. What must have been her suffering at the foot of the cross!
The lesson, of course, is that our faithfulness will also be tried in this life. Our faith will encounter suffering in many different forms: rejection, depression, illness or discouragement are just some examples.
In short, Mary has shared all of this life with us. She is a mother who loves us and understands our needs. Mary is the highest honor of our race. How good it is for us to honor her during this month of May.