Most of our Mays are marked by national events from the Kentucky Derby to Indy-500, international events from May Day to Cinco de Mayo, school events from proms to graduations, cultural events from May poles to May baskets, societal events from Mother’s Day to Memorial Day, sporting events from winding down the NBA to revving up the MLB, sacramental events from First Communions to weddings, and other church events from May crowning to feast days of Mary, Joseph, and an abundance of saints. This May, in comparison, is quite subdued.
Colored ribbons streaming from May poles represent not only the vast array of spring flowers that populate the earth but also the variations of atmospheric pressures that swirl in the air. As good and evil spirits compete internally for possession of our moral character, so did ancients believe that heat and cold, thunder and lightning, rain and storms, battle in space for possession of our planet’s surface as seasons change. Such skirmishes point to the ultimate battle of life and death that simultaneously beckon us. Things have a tendency to erupt in May. Eruptions get symbolized by students busting out of school at the sound of the final bell and graduates tossing mortarboard into the sky after the handing over of the last diploma. They are realized also in tornadoes and other storms that react to the weight of air, columns of space, and tensions of weather fronts. Our nature, like Mother Nature, reacts by releasing the tension.
People of faith who follow Father-God as much or more than Mother-Nature look at science and factor in religion or contemplate material realities and insert spiritual components. After a dark and cold winter chill, unforeseen and elongated Lenten fasting, and two months of coronavirus isolation, we eagerly greet new life as we bust out of confinement in imitation of Jesus bursting from the tomb. The Feast Day of Saint Corona (May 14), celebrated previously in rare pockets of Europe and The Middle East, is now associated by some as a time that the stone was rolled away: re-opening municipalities and businesses or being set free from the shackles of quarantine. Though not with the force of a storm or hullabaloo of graduation, it still marks a transition affiliated with May.
“Corona” means crown. Our churches begin May with crowning ceremonies that honor our Blessed Mother and lucky girls who possess some of her virtues or character. Until recent decades, the Feast of the Coronation of Mary was held on the last day of May. With America’s spirit and citizens’ strong faith, it seems that the crown of victory over the coronavirus is within our sight. Let us greet and welcome better times ahead as a society while we learn from struggles and graces that we encountered in recent months as individuals. As we experience such an unusual May let us try to better understand exterior and interior battles that point us to reverence the nature of creation and our own nature as God’s people.