St. Michael Prayer

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do, thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into hell satan and all of the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Glory to God in the Highest!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

'Tis the Month of Our Lady...

Do you remember singing this song at a 
May Crowning?

I do.

All Hail! to thee, dear Mary,
the guardian of our way;
To the fairest of all Queens,
Be the fairest of seasons, sweet May.



In grade school, we all, and by all I mean, all 6th grade girls,
wanted to crown Our Lady at the annual May Crowning.

We knew she was our Mother.
We knew she loved us.
We knew that if we offered our prayers to her, she would take them to Jesus for us.
We had a great devotion to her.
In April, our devotion soared to new levels.

We walked with our rosaries out at lunch and recited the rosary so the good sisters would see us.
We would ask the nuns if we could stay after school to help them or help a student who was 
"struggling" with their studies.
We asked if we could dust the altar at church,
we all joined the Junior Altar Society.

Oh, they were on to us, those nuns.
They heard us singing softly in the halls, 
and not so softly as we walked past the principal's office,
" 'Tis the month of our Mother."
There was only one chance at this,
we were giving it our 
 We had waited 6 years for this honor,
we were all determined.
 It was an honor to be chosen.

I remember the day when our classmate was chosen.
We, who thought we were so clever,
were stunned.

She was not "in" with the "in crowd."
She was not a popular girl.
Not many of us had noticed her this year.
She was quiet.
When she talked, she talked funny.
She had joined the Junior Altar Society when she had transferred to our school, and 
she had to be told over and over what to do.
Her parents weren't rich.
She didn't have sleep overs.
None of us thought she was fun.
She didn't get in trouble.
She didn't complain. 
She had weird eyes.

Her name was announced over the loud speaker by our principal.
There was an audible gasp in the room.
No had ever dreamed...
but her name was called.
We all looked at each other,
then we looked at her.
"Not fair," someone whispered.

She didn't say anything,
then, we saw something.
She was crying soft, gentle tears.

We sat there shamed.

Sister looked at all of us,
then she invited Maria to come to the front of the room.
Maria was still weeping.
We politely applauded her victory.

The bell rang, and it was time to go home.
Stunned, we filed out of the room in silence, for a change.
No one knew what to say.
There was a mistake made, there had to be.
Maria wasn't popular.
Maria was the wrong choice.

I was picking up my book bag when Sister Bernadette called me back into the room.
Maria was sitting at her desk.
"I'm going to call your mother, shortly.  Will you tell her that when you get home?"
Boy, I knew I was in trouble now.
"You and Maria are about the same size, aren't you?"
I nodded.
"Maria doesn't have a dress to wear for the May Crowning tomorrow.  Do you think you would be willing to lend her one to wear?"
"I guess," I said not too happily. "Maybe she could use my shoes, too."
Sister Mary Bernadette, just smiled.
"That would be very kind of you."
Maria finally smiled.  She was out the door now.
Her eyes were so weird.  How could they have picked her?

Sister Bernadette spoke to me again.
"You're better than this.  Maria's family is very poor.  I'm pleased that you are willing to help her out."
I was still pouting.
"What's wrong with her eyes?" I asked.
 Maria has a condition called Downs Syndrome.
"What does that mean?"
Sister replied, "It means she has a very difficult time learning.  If she wasn't in school, she'd be in an institution."
"Oh," I said.
"She was the right choice this year."
"I don't think so."
Sister sighed.

"Yes, she was.  She's so happy.  She probably won't be able to go on in school.  She just can't learn.  We're trying to teach her how to clean houses and cook at the convent.  I'll bet you didn't know that."
"Why are you doing that?" I asked.

"Because one day she will need a place to live.  Her mom is trying to find a good place for her to live before she dies.  Her mother has cancer.  She won't live much longer."

I was still pouting, but Sister Bernadette had my interest now. 

Sister Bernadette reminded me, "Are you going to confession on Saturday?"
"I don't know."
"Look up the term 'selfishness' in the dictionary.  Ask yourself if it applies to you."
"Is it a sin?"
I wanted to go home.
"Will you do me a favor?"
"I guess."
"Will you pray the Rosary so that Maria is able to crown Mary tomorrow without the kids making fun of her?"
I hesitated.
Sister said, "This is the only time in her life when she will be able to do this."
"All right."
"Thank you.  Now, you can go home.  Be kind to her, please.  Your mother told me to call when we needed something like this."
"I'll tell her."

Sister Bernadette called my Mom, and Maria's Dad brought her over to try on the dress.
I cringed.  It was my most beautiful dress, ever!
I really wanted to crown Mary!

I had to admit that Maria looked beautiful in that blue dress.
I found my First Communion veil in the closet.
"Can we add this?" I asked.
Mom asked me, "Do you mind if I make some changes to it, so it will look like a beautiful veil instead of a first communion veil?"
No, I really didn't.

We said the  Rosary that night as a family.  We all offered the Rosary up so the kids wouldn't be mean to Maria tomorrow.

There was a happy ending, of sorts.
There were still some girls who were mean to Maria.
One of them called her a "retard" as Maria waited in the back of the church.  I wanted to sock her in the nose, but
I saw Mother Mary's face.  I saw her kind eyes.  I couldn't.

I grabbed Maria's hand, and Sister said I could wait with her in the back of the Church.
It became my job to tell her when to walk down the aisle to crown Mary.
 The music started.  I told Maria to start walking down the aisle. 
She smiled at me.  She was halfway down the aisle, when she stopped.
I thought, "Oh, no!  She doesn't know what to do."

Maria turned around and walked back to me.
She grabbed my hand and pulled me down the aisle with her.
I was terrified. 
I looked at Sister who just smiled.
The girl who carried the crown was waiting quietly at the statue of Mary.
Maria and I walked together down the aisle.
I saw Maria's mother in the front of the church, in a wheel chair.  She was smiling so hard that I thought her face would break.
Maria kept pulling me down the aisle with her.

When we got to the statue of Mary, Maria climbed on the stepping stool so that she would be able to reach the top of the Virgin's head.  She held my hand firmly.
The other girl brought the crown to Maria.  Maria took the crown of flowers with one hand and pulled me up on the stepping stool with her.  She put my hand on the other side of the crown,
and together, we crowned the Queen.

Now, it was my turn to cry.

Many years later, my mother told me that there were many parents who called the school and were upset about Maria crowning Mary.
She told me that they were even more upset that I had helped her.
I guess Sister Mary Mathias, our principal,  had tried to placate the parents, but no one was happy.

That summer, a lot of my friends changed schools.  Some went to public schools.  Some went to private schools.
Most of them didn't come back.  

I didn't have many friends, but I had some. All of the other girls had things to do when I called.   I didn't care.  They had been so mean to Maria, it didn't matter to me.

I went to the convent and asked about Maria.  She was happy to see me.
She had a job already.  She was helping the sisters cook and clean.  Her mother had died two weeks after the May Crowning.  Maria's dad told Mom, that in her last hours she prayed for me because I was so kind to Maria.

I didn't know what to say.

I walked by the park after I saw Maria.  There were so many snapdragons blooming, I decided that no one would miss a few.

I picked a small bouquet, and sprinted to Church.  I didn't have a chapel veil, so I snuck in very quietly.  No one was there.  I only had my ribbon, so I tied the flowers into a bundle with the ribbon.
I put them at the feet of Our Lady.
I thanked her for sending Maria into my life.  I was glad Maria had a place to call home now.
Sister Bernadette told me later, that they were going to make Maria a nun so that she would always have a home.  Maria understood enough of our faith for that to happen.

I smiled.  Maria was okay, and so was I.
So, was I.




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