She does everything for her family. The sacrifice a mother will make for her child knows no bounds. While a “what’s in it for me” culture seems so pervasive these days, we have seen incredible acts of heroism from first responders and health-care personnel, professionals and staff alike, in coming to the aid of our most vulnerable in this COVID-19 crisis. Yet is this so unprecedented?

Even nature itself reveals to us the extraordinary sacrifice a mother will make to guard and protect her offspring. Call it the “mother bear” instinct. The pre-Christian imagine of the pelican, pricking her own breast to draw forth blood droplets to feed her young in time of famine was quickly assimilated by early Christians as a symbol of Christ’s self-emptying gift of life to us, feeding us with his body and blood. 

Mary, the mother of Christ, to whom May is dedicated, was informed at the Presentation by the prophet Simeon that she would not escape suffering — “and you yourself a sword shall pierce” (Lk 2:35) — so that her son’s mission may be fulfilled. Had she been able to ascend the cross itself in Christ’s place, one has little doubt she would have. But “so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:35), Jesus entrusts Mary to us, his Church and his spouse, from the Cross. “Woman, behold, your son … (son), behold, your mother” (Jn 19: 26-27). As Mary lived on earth for Jesus, to give to and make his presence felt in the world, so does she become his first disciple when Jesus entrusts to her the fulfillment of his mission of love in the world. 

Mary becomes, by Christ’s commission, both mother and model of the Church. She is here for us. In honoring her throughout the month of May, we discover a bond that flows from the divine will that she serves, in the order of grace, as our refuge and source of spiritual and emotional support. Mary is here FOR us. We can count on it. There is nothing she will not do for her children.

It is with great trust and confidence then at this time, and especially in this season of grace, that Mary becomes our refuge of strength or, as the Marian Litany implores, the “Help of Christians” in our hour of need. Last Friday, we joined with bishops and faithful, laity and clergy, throughout our nation in an Act of Consecration of the United States to Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace. Other titles of Mary were invoked in this celebration. You may recite the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, invoking many more. Or, in reciting the Rosary, add the word “Mary” to any of the mysteries, for there is not a single aspect of the life of Christ in which Mary is not a full and active participant, just as every mystery itself centers on Christ, who is the center of Mary’s life: “Blessed is the fruit of your womb … Jesus is Lord!”

One of the Marian customs often observed during May is a “crowning” ceremony. Following the fifth of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary — the Coronation — a small floral crown is placed on the head of a statue of Mary to represent her title of honor as “Queen of Heaven.” As with all Marian titles, this one not only tells us something about Mary, but reveals our own identity, both personally and as members of the Church, the Body of Christ, and of the Communion of Saints.

A real bond exists among us and our mother, Mary. To say that she is “Queen” is to acknowledge her beneficent role and rule in our lives and the lives of the saints. We are a part of a communion that has a heavenly home and, while we are still on earth, a heavenly destiny. We are made for heaven. So Mary’s honor is our calling as well. As she is conceived in holiness — “Hail, full of Grace” — so, too, are we reborn, through our baptismal conception, into a life of holiness, a life open to be graced and sanctified.

Am I ready to become a saint? That is our birth right that we all receive through the birth rite of Baptism. Mary wants to be for us a light on our path to holiness and she is uniquely poised for this. As the spouse of the Holy Spirit, who lives in Mary, she always leads us into the heart of her Son. The quickest path to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. If we are not sure exactly how to find the right words to put into prayer, how to ask for what we need, Mary can teach us the words, just as she taught Jesus how to speak. Or else, she will say the prayer for us! And if she asks, we can be more than double sure, we will receive the best answer.

Mary, really, is the whole point of May for us as Christians. By making this month all about her, we can be sure that it will really be our month to enjoy. For nothing delights a mother more than the well-being and happiness of her children. By invoking Mary as our mother, we give her permission to treat us as her beloved children and we allow her to look after us and to give us what we need to be God’s children, her children, in every way. She is here for us. She does everything for her family.