Yesterday, on the Trinity Sunday, I presided a Liturgy of the Eucharist in a parish where I had not been for a number of years.
Unusually, there was music at the liturgy – only 1 of the 4 normal Sunday liturgies regularly had music at that parish before the COVID lockdowns. But a cantor presented themself in the sacristy volunteering to sing at the liturgy. Naturally I agreed. The cantor proceeded to tell me that they were doing this as yesterday was the last Sunday in Mary’s Month. The traditional 4 hymns selection were all Marian hymns.
The prayers of the Roman Missal were those of Trinity Sunday and I endeavored to preach on how the Holy Trinity, as revealed in the selection of readings in the Lectionary, can help us. Yet I would guess that if people were asked what the main thrust of the celebration was as they were leaving the church, most of them would have agreed with the cantor and said that it was May and Mary’s Month.
The 2001 CDW’s Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy does mention the devotional aspect of May:
- In relation to the western custom of observing a “Marian month” during the month of May (or in November in some parts of the Southern hemisphere), it would seem opportune to take into account the demands of the Liturgy, the expectations of the faithful, their maturity in the faith, in an eventual study of the problems deriving from the “Marian months” in the overall pastoral activity of the local Church, as might happen, for example, with any suggestion of abolishing the Marian observances during the month of May.
In many cases, the solution for such problems would seem to lay in harmonizing the content of the “Marian months” with the concomitant season of the Liturgical Year. For example, since the month of May largely corresponds with the fifty days of Easter, the pious exercises practised at this time could emphasize Our Lady’s participation in the Paschal mystery (cf. John 19, 25-27), and the Pentecost event (cf, Acts 1, 14) with which the Church begins: Our Lady journeys with the Church having shared in the novum of the Resurrection, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The fifty days are also a time for the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation and of the mystagogy. The pious exercises connected with the month of May could easily highlight the earthly role played by the glorified Queen of Heaven, here and now, in the celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.
From a theological and rubrical point of view, Trinity Sunday will trump Marian hymns in any competition. But from a pastoral point of view how do we manage to help the assembly appreciate the importance of the official feast? If the assembly is benefiting spiritually from the liturgy ought we even to be worried about this?