The year 2022 opened as usual with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God salubriously witnessing the recession of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lifting of the unending lockdown!
The month of May—which Father Aniceto Nazareth of happy memory fondly referred to as the Month of Mary—thus saw the Mary Help of Christians SCC [MHOC] of Mithchowki, in Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Malad West (Bombay Archdiocese, western India) swing back in action on the Marian front à la pre-lockdown times!
The First day saw the Virgin of Fatima recceing her new territory for the month. The candlelight procession accompanying her had the participants recite a decade of the Rosary in each of the five segments of the sector that evening, each CHS welcoming her warmly. And then commenced her home visitation, lovingly spending holy nights in the homes of some 31 lucky families! ‘Lucky’ because what has now emerged plausible is the belief that it is she who chooses a family to take her home with, subtly refraining from imposing herself on any home that is reluctant. All of those who did welcome her into their homes and hearts had nothing but love and gratitude to express in relation to her visit that came after a two-year wait!
The excitement with which families celebrated birthdays and wedding anniversaries as well as commemorated death anniversaries and a host of other occasions that fell during May, with Mary as chief guest, was to be seen to be believed! They came, they beheld, and they prayed and were clearly smitten by the Queen around whom the community gathered for the Recitation of the Holy Rosary every evening before she was taken in a procession to a designated home.
Candlelight processions accompanying Mary from one CHS to another were de rigueur, as was the intonation of the “Ave” of Lourdes at the end of every decade! Why not! After all, it was ‘her own month of May!
The twin highlight of the Month of Mary was the Feast of the Sector’s Patroness, May of Help of Christians on May 24 and the Floral Crowning of her Image on May 31! The Feast Day, celebrated with the Eucharist presided over by Father Cedric Rosario, the zonal priest, was aptly preceded by a novena of preparation that dwelt on the following nine Marian themes/attributes: Mary, Queen of the Rosary; Spouse of the Holy Spirit; Mother of the Church; Mirror of Jesus to the world; Queen of the Family; The First Tabernacle; Mary and Prayer; Mary and the Resurrection; Instrument of Salvation. As for the Floral Crowning that took place on May 31 with an East Indian Band in attendance, it was a delight to witness four little children bearing aloft the floral coronet assembled decade-by-decade on the spot, with which to crown Mary!
Mary’s ‘own Month of May’ did not peak, however, on May 31! Rather, it overflowed into the month of June! Delightfully, the return of the Virgin of Fatima in a candlelight procession to the parish on June 2, 2022, had a significance all its own: Father Michael Pinto, parish priest, on receiving the Statue, blessed the assemblage after reminding them to be of service to others just the way Mary was in her time and continues to be to us today. The MHOC Statue made a quiet exit to the Church of Saint John Bosco, Borivili.
And then in a grand finale, on Pentecost Sunday, it was the image of Mary, Queen of Apostles from the Daughters of Saint Paul, Bandra (Bombay) that deigned to visit the MHOC Community! In a triple celebration, a special recitation of the Rosary highlighted the unmistakable link between the Feast of Mary, Queen of Apostles on the eve of Pentecost Sunday, the Solemnity of Pentecost itself, and the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church on the Monday after Pentecost! Hail Holy Queen enthroned above–O Maria!
Holy God we praise Thy Name…! - Incidentally, lest all this devotionalism appear like an excessive glorification of Mary, it may be affirmed that in keeping with the maxim—To Jesus through Mary, every single evening opened with a hymn to Mary and aptly closed with a hymn either to the Jesus or the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Trinity. Indeed, as the popular hymn goes—We stand for God and for His glory! Amen!!
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