A statue of Mary among spring blooms greets visitors at St. Patrick's Seminary and University in Menlo Park, Calif., May 9, 2019. The U.S. and Canadian bishops announced April 23, 2020, they will consecrate their nations to Mary during the coronavirus pandemic May 1. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

COVID-19: A pastor’s perspective: Honoring the Blessed Mother in May


Father David BonnarOne of the great persons that my dear mom introduced us children to was the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mom had a deep devotion to Mary and the Rosary. In fact, when mom died, we discovered a vast array of rosaries, so many that there was probably enough for every person on the street. Behind each bead of every rosary, no doubt, were many fervent prayers seeking Mary’s intercession.

Today we begin the month of May, which is traditionally associated with Mary. It was right about this time of year when we, as a family, would begin tilling the soil and purchasing flowers to plant in Mary’s garden located in our backyard. This is also a time to turn to Mary to pray the Rosary. Many parishes still continue the beautiful tradition of May Crowning.

On this day in our beloved country, bishops and priests are praying a Renewal of the Consecration of the United States of America to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this prayer, we ask Mary to “accompany us with a mother’s love.” Whenever troubles arise, a mother has an innate way of bringing hope and comfort to a child. In that same spirit, we turn to Mary to intercede “with her Son for all those who are affected in any way by this pandemic.”

In this prayer of consecration, Mary is invoked as Health of the Sick, Mother of Consolation, Help of Christians, Queen and Mother of Mercy, Seat of Wisdom, and Mother of Good Counsel. These titles are not just names but fruits of Mary’s life that are offered to us along the way.

In my first parish, there was a tradition, days before the start of the annual parish festival, to place a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the windowsill. The purpose behind this ritual was to seek Mother Mary’s intercession for good weather. Parishioners were invited to do the same in their homes. This was always a faith-filled acknowledgement of Mary’s intercessory role.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every Catholic home, in addition to praying the Rosary each day, placed an image of Our Lady on their windowsill? At this point, it is not so much about the weather but about everyone’s health. Let us pray that through the intercession of Mary those afflicted with this virus will be comforted, those comforting them will be protected. Let us also pray that a vaccine will be discovered and this pandemic will end.

On this first day of May, the Church also celebrates the memorial of St. Joseph the Worker. We turn to St. Joseph, the humble carpenter, to help us in our everyday work of holiness. We also seek his intercession for the millions of Americans currently without work due to the pandemic. We might also want to place an image of St. Joseph in our windowsill as an ever-present reminder to not stop believing. Hail Holy Queen, pray for us! St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us!

FATHER DAVID J. BONNAR, editor of The Priest, is a pastor of 15 years in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, where he has served in numerous roles. Follow and like The Priest magazine on Facebook.

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