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Mary's Month, Lift Up Your Voice
May has traditionally been the month of Mary in the Catholic Church. One of the ancient names for Mary is Mater Misericordiae, Mother of Mercy, so Mary’s month has special significance in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Mary is the Mother of mercy, because she bore in her womb the very Face of divine mercy, Jesus, Emmanuel, the Expectation of the nations, the “Prince of Peace” ― Pope Francis, 1 January 2016.
Mary experienced and proclaimed the wonder of God’s mercy. She is a mirror of the merciful love of God and calls us to open ourselves to, and show others, that love.
Devotion to Mary and the saints is integral to Catholic faith.
We venerate the saints as human beings transformed by the grace of God. We give glory to God who has done marvellous things in the life of one of us.
We imitate them because they show us how to be followers of Christ. The saints in the liturgical calendar offer models of discipleship that are relevant for the Church in all ages and places.
The feast of the Visitation on May 31, for example, calls us to ponder Mary as the woman who believed and obediently accepted the will of God, enabling her to play a most significant role in the saving work of Christ.
We invoke the intercession of the saints in the sense that we ask them to pray for us through Christ who is our one and only mediator.
Lift Up Your Voice
Attended a Mass for the Vietnamese Community, I was struck by the wonderful singing of the acclamations, responses and hymns. Everyone joined in – young and old, female and male, vocally gifted and challenged alike. It was quite a contrast to most Catholic parishes where many people make no effort to sing.
Music is an important part of special gatherings – carols at Christmas, the school song at class reunions, etc – and singing is integral to liturgy because it too is a celebration – a celebration of faith.
Music in liturgy works in several ways. Firstly, singing together at Mass draws us together as a single worshipping community. Secondly, music enables us to express our faith in song and say what we ourselves are unable to put into words. Thirdly, words sometimes take on a much deeper meaning when put to music. An effective musical setting of a Mass response expresses more than what the words alone say.
Singing offers a unique means of expressing joy and enthusiasm. Music also helps set the tone for particular celebrations and helps us enter more fully into the different liturgical seasons.
Finally, singing is one way by which everyone can fully participate in the liturgy as we are expected to do. We sing because we are people of prayer and, according to an ancient proverb, those who sing pray twice!