In our Dominican family, which is by tradition the guardian and promoter of devotion to Mary, we imitate her as our faultless model, that we may engender Christ in our souls and glorify God. (Basic Constitutions)
The practice of recalling and renewing devotion to Mary during the month of May remains an integral part of Dominican spirituality. As Dominicans, and thus preachers of the Word, we look to Mary as the “proto-evangelist,” the first to bear the Word of God. With her, the sons and daughters of St. Dominic seek to receive the fullness of God in the silence and solitude of contemplation, desiring to utter a continual “fiat” to His request to bring the knowledge and love of the Lord to the ends of the earth.
While the universal Church honors Mary during May, the liturgical calendar provides Dominicans with a special cause for joy in the celebration of her patronage over the entire Order on May 8. On this day we earnestly pray for Our Lady’s intercession, rededicating the Order to Christ through her pledge of aid. We beg her to “give us strength” that we might become “witnesses of that truth which frees and of that love which unites…for the salvation of the world and to the praise and glory of God” (Prayer Dedicating the Order to the Blessed Virgin Mary).
We open this month of devotion to Mary with the beautiful practice of May Crowning. The crown which adorns the statue of our Blessed Mother throughout the month serves as a visible reminder of her nearness and an incentive to turn to her in trust.
Naturally, as Dominicans we sow the seeds of Marian devotion in all our apostolic activities. May Crowning ceremonies are held in the schools in which we teach and many schools have each child bring a flower or other offering to place at Mary’s feet. In addition, continuing our Dominican love for the Rosary we place special emphasis on this devotion during May, often praying a decade daily with our students and encouraging families to pray the Rosary together. As one walks into our classrooms, beautiful images of the Mother of God can be found on bulletin boards, or small shrines dedicated to Mary may adorn the room. Aware of Our Lady’s special love for the Order of Preachers, we strive to place our students under her motherly protection as well.
The month of May closes with the Feast of the Visitation, a special feast for preachers! Conceiving God in her very womb, Mary was compelled in love to bring her own encounter with the fullness of Truth to all, starting with her cousin Elizabeth. Thus the prayer made on May 8 becomes our daily prayer as Dominicans and bearers of the Word:
Under your guidance we today devote ourselves anew to the ministry of the Word. Furthermore, we declare to you that, hearing with you the Word within ourselves and anointed by the Spirit whose sacred vessel you preeminently are, we are consecrated in the name of Jesus Christ for the evangelization of the world.