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Reflections by the Sister Servants, Free Talks by Sister Rita Marie, Spring Sale, and More...

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'Tis the Month of Our Mother! 

Prayerful greetings from Casa Maria! We pray for you daily and want to share some thoughts on Our Lady in this month dedicated to her. We miss you!

Mother Louise Marie and the Sister Servants 

On Mother's Day, as the community gathered around the statue of Mary, and our postulant, Sister Laura crowned Our Lady to the strains of "Bring Flowers of the Rarest," I was reminded of the countless times I sang those words growing up.

The May Crowning was a traditional event in our home, always celebrated with all the solemnity that children’s hearts can muster! Every year at the beginning of the month, we had to make our May Altar. Someone would select a table and find a place for it, someone would find a candle or two, and the rest of us would go outside looking for flowers. Anything was fair game. Everything from clovers and dandelions to Mom’s irises would be ruthlessly plundered for the sake of Our Lady! And no matter how beautiful the bouquets or how simple or even straggly were our offerings, neither our Mom, nor our heavenly Mother ever rejected any of them.

The statue would be brought out and one of us would get to place the crown on Mary’s head while we all sang, “Bring Flowers,” “Tis the Month of Our Mother” and any other Marian hymn of which we could remember a significant number of words (If you forgot part, you just hummed, or thought up other words that sounded relatively suitable). Then it was not uncommon to do it all over again, because somebody was sad that they hadn’t been chosen to crown Mary, so they had to have a turn. Over the years, as nieces and nephews came into the mix, we might crown Mary on several different days, sometimes at the May Altar, sometimes at the outdoor statue, with whichever bunch of kids was visiting. Sometimes we would pray the Rosary, sometimes other prayers, but we always sang, and we always brought flowers.

Was it as perfect as I am making it sound? Of course not (memory has a way of smoothing off the rough edges!), but one thing I know is that my relationship with Mary was fostered by that devotion in my family. And the idea of Mary as a Mother who is as pleased with my little bouquets of clover as my own Mom never failed to be has been with me ever since.

I asked Mother Louise Marie if I could share my memories with you in the hopes that you might consider making this devotion a tradition in your own family. Even if you live alone, making a special place to honor Mary in your home and your heart during the month of May will surely bear fruit. Our Lady will certainly be pleased, and you might find that it’s a little easier to relate to her as Mother when you come to her “bringing flowers of the rarest” or at least with the simplicity of a child.

In his letter to the Church for the month of May, Pope Francis urged families to pray the Rosary together, especially during this month dedicated to our Blessed Mother. He suggests adding two special prayers to the end of the Rosary this month. Michael Pakaluk’s recent article in the Catholic Thing gives more tips for incorporating this devotion into your family life.

Sr. Rita Marie recorded a brief talk for the Say Yes to Holiness Transformative Summit happening right now. She will be participating in a live panel Q&A on Friday, May 22, at 7 pm CST on the Say Yes to Holiness Facebook page. You can view her talk by clicking here.

Three years ago on May 13, Pope Francis canonized Jacinta and Francisco of Fatima. These two young saints have a good deal to teach us today, particularly in this time of pandemic. Many who are familiar with the message of Fatima may not be familiar with the circumstances surrounding their deaths. They both suffered greatly before being taken to heaven at the ages of ten and eleven as a result of Spanish Influenza. For this reason, they have been considered by many to be suitable Patrons for our world during this time.

When Jacinta and Francisco became ill, they told their cousin Lucia that Our Lady had appeared to the two of them and told them that Francisco would be going to heaven soon, but had asked if Jacinta would like to stay and suffer more to convert more sinners. Jacinta agreed to do so. Our Lady told her she would go to a hospital and suffer a great deal, the hardest suffering being that her family would not be with her, not even Lucia. This idea of dying alone terrified Jacinta, but she said yes, knowing that Our Lady would not leave her unattended.

As Francisco’s condition worsened, he said to Lucia, “What hurts me most is that I can’t go to the church and stay awhile with the Hidden Jesus.” However, he always seemed happy. Lucia would come to visit and find him in his bed, absorbed in prayer. If she asked him if he was suffering, he would say, “Yes, but never mind. I’m suffering to console Our Lord and Our Lady.” When Francisco was about to die, Jacinta said to him, “Give all my Love to Our Lord and Our Lady and tell them that I’ll suffer as much as they want for the conversion of sinners and in reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

Before leaving for the hospital Jacinta told Lucia, “It will not be long now before I go to heaven. You will remain here to make known that God wishes to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When you say this, don’t go and hide. Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Heart of Mary, that people are to ask for them and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side. Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace since God has entrusted it to her.”

It is interesting to note that the two greatest sufferings for the children were the same sufferings being experienced by many today; the inability to spend time before the Blessed Sacrament, and isolation in sickness. But both found refuge in Mary’s Immaculate Heart. Their encounter with Our Lady enabled them to reach a heroic degree of holiness in a remarkably short length of time, and their faith in her maternal intercession gave them supernatural hope during physical illness and the fear and isolation associated with it.

Our Lady’s message at Fatima is a sober one, calling for prayer and penance, but it is also one of hope. When Lucia asked Mary sadly if she would have to remain alone after Francisco and Jacinta went to heaven, Mary answered in words as consoling for us as for Lucia: “ Not alone, my child. Do not be sad, I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way which will lead you to God.

We had hoped to invite you all to the blessing of our new Stations of the Cross path on our grounds, but the pandemic prevented us from doing so. We hope that this will be a place of prayerful meditation for you on a future visit to Casa Maria. We are very grateful to all who assisted us in making this project a reality.

With the current pandemic, we have been unable to host our retreats for the past two months. Many of you have asked us how you can support the life and mission of the Sister Servants, particularly by meeting our more urgent needs. You can contribute online or send checks to the Sister Servants at 3721 Belmont Rd, Irondale, AL 35210.

Most importantly during this difficult time, we count on the support of your prayers. Would you commit to praying three Hail Marys each day for our community and vocations? You can also share our retreat schedule, free talks and photo galleries with your family and friends.

To make an online donation, visit sisterservants.org/donate