Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May Procession

Cora helps decorate our Mary statue. She really needs her own garden!

May is Mary's month, and one of the sweetest memories I have of celebrating it is my elementary school's May procession. The First Communicants would dress in their suits and white dresses, and the whole school and their families, and the members of the church, would fill the school parking lot, carrying their rosaries. The Irish sisters of our school would lead the congregation in a rosary over a loudspeaker, as we slowly walked a path from the school to the church. At the head of this joyful but stately parade was a great statue of Mary on a platform-like altar, carried (by the Knights of Columbus, I think) above the shoulders of the crowd and decked thick with live flowers of all kinds, so that Mary seemed to travel with us on a cloud of blossoms. Behind her were two children, one chosen to carry her crown and one to crown her. At the end of it we sang Marian hymns and the crown was placed on the statue's head.

Our current parish has had a May procession for several years but I have never been able to attend it myself. Last year I decided that if I couldn't attend our church's procession, we would do our own at home. I highly recommend that if you belong to a parish that practices this delightful piety, participate in it! For that matter, there's no reason you can't do both. 

Here are my notes for what you need.

1. A statue of Mary. Ours is an outdoor statue made of concrete, but a small one in the house will be fine. Use what you have and make it work for you. Make a litter out of a serving tray or a baking sheet, or pull it in a wagon like a parade float. You can even use a framed picture if you don't have a statue, and make a garland or swag to drape around it in lieu of...

2. A crown that fits the statue. I like flower crowns. The American Girls Handy Book has some instructions for making flower crowns, and anything viney can be wound ino a wreath and studded with blooms. You can cut and tie them from your rose garden, make a tiny wreath of dandelions or wildflowers, or glue or weave together artificial flowers for a crown you can use year after year. Or you can make a crown like this

3. A path to process along! It doesn't have to be long, just pick a starting point and an end.  If you have a May altar, you can make a ceremony of placing her statue there. You might like to have stations, especially if your path is short. Make five stops for each of the joyful mysteries, or pick your three favorite hymns and sing each one at a different point on your walk.

4. Flowers. It's what May is all about. 

5. A ritual. So many possibilities, but really all you need is a prayer. For more, consider hymns ("Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above," "O Most Holy One," and "Sing of Mary" are my favorites), praying a rosary, and scripture readings (Luke 1:46-55—the Magnificat!).

Postscript: This was supposed to be for May 1, but my pregnant brain forgot to click "publish," so here it is. Then, the next day I saw this post about planning a May crowning which would be great for larger groups of kids, so I'm passing it on. 

Also, I'm getting some weird formatting issue trying to edit this post right now, so my apologies if it looks weird.

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