On May 1, John Paul II was beatified; there are so many things this great pope brought to us, but one that stands out to me is the Luminous Mysteries. I remember being an excited youth minister when these new mysteries were unveiled to help us meditate on the life of Christ, as we asked for Our Lady’s intercession. As John Paul is recognized for his holiness, we begin a month that pays special attention to Mary.
In a general audience in 1979, Blessed John Paul II said, “The month of May, which began yesterday, encourages us to think and speak particularly of her. This, in fact, is her month. In this way, therefore, the period of the liturgical year and the current month together call and invite our hearts to open in a special way to Mary.”
This was not the first time a pope pointed the Church toward Mary during May nor was it the last time that Blessed John Paul II would do so. As he was ever so mindful of the youth in his addresses, he encouraged the youth in particular to pay attention to this month: “Dear young people, today at the beginning of the month of May, dedicated in a special way to the Mother of the Lord, I invite you to place yourselves in the school of Mary to learn how to love God above all things and to be ever ready and willing to do his will” (May 1, 2002).
As we begin May, it’s a good challenge to those of us in ministry to highlight our Catholic devotion to Mary with the youth with serve.
- Teach your youth to pray the rosary. Buy rosaries and the how-to-pray-the-rosary guides that have all the Mysteries. I am often surprised at how many of my youth don’t know how to pray the rosary.
- Do you have a statue of Mary in your parish? Point it out to the youth. Go on a field trip inside your church, especially if it is not in a place of prominence. What does this particular image of Mary tell you?
- Dive into the Scripture that mentions Mary. Take a look at Luke 1 and 2, as well as John 2 and 19. What does the Bible tell us about Mary and why we should honor her?
- Mary has so many names. Spend some time explaining what some of them are and where they came from. Pray the Litany of Mary together and ask the teens to pick out their favorite title of Mary.
- Although May is her month, Mary has many Holy Days. Do a session going through the liturgical calendar looking at those days and what it is we particularly celebrate on each of those.
- Examine the “Hail Mary.” Look at where it comes from in Scripture. Talk about what the words we say actually mean.
- Talk about some of the common misperceptions about Catholics and Mary. Help your youth to be able to explain and defend why we honor her and ask for her intercession.
Ultimately, make sure that you talk about how Mary always leads us to Christ. She was the first disciple, ready to say yes with her whole life to the will of God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, she brought us the Savior. Today, she desires no less– to help lead us to Jesus. As our current pontiff prayed, “May Mary, Mother of the Church, help us to open our hearts and minds to the One who is “the Way, and the Truth and the Life” (John 14: 6).