Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Crowning the BVM

We crowned the statue of Mary on the campus of our regional school this morning. I'm the school's hebdomedary this week; so it fell to me to preside at this annual event. First we had a very crowded Mass - crowded especially with proud parents of 1st Communicants who were wearing their 1st Communion outfits again today. Then, after Mass, we went singing in procession outside to shrine erected for the prupose, where the student individually placed flowers in vases in front of the statue. After singing the Magnificat, we sang the traditonal May hymn, during which an 8th grader put the floral crown on Mary's head. Then we recited the Litany of Loretto, after which we sang yet another hymn, and lots of pictures were taken to the great joy of all involved.

Our parish "May Crowning" will take place this coming Sunday. Weather permitting, our procession will have three "stations." We will walk outdoors, singing the Litany of Loretto, to crown our outdoor statue, then return to the church to venerate the image of Mary Salus Populi Romani, which graces our shrine designated for prayer through the intercession of Isaac Hecker, before concluding at the side altar for the May hymn and crowning of the main Mary statue.

May Crownings hearken back to a time of vibrant Catholic communities, when the parish was the center of the neighborhood - socially as well as spiritually. Upward mobility and suburbanization eventually changed all that, and reviving the rituals of the onetime "Catholic ghetto" may seem to some more like an exercise in nostalgia. But there is more than nostalgia involved when the time-honored rites that formed earlier generations and nourished the faith and hope of saints are revived. They may not work exactly the way they did in that storied once-upon-a-time (which wasn't actually all that long ago), but they still hold out the promise of linking life in this world with the heavenly liturgy which we have been hearing described these Easter season Sundays in the Book of Revelation. In that sense, sich rituals are less a nostalgic evocation of a romantically remembered past and more like a glimpse into the eternal future which we believe has already begun in the Resurrection and for whose fulfillment in all of us we so fondly and confidently have our hope.

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