May 30, 2020

A May Altar for the Blessed Mother

from Sister M. Dorina Dungel

Childhood memories of May

Now in May I like to think of the experiences of my childhood when every year we invited Mary, the Mother of God, to our home in our nursery.

This happened for the first time when I was 6 years old, my sister 5 years old (see photo). Our mother told us that the month of May is the month of joy for the Blessed Mother Mary, to pray to her. We children wanted to do that too, to make everything beautiful for her at our home.

In our cramped children’s room there was a bedside table between our beds, with a large MTA picture above where our mother always prayed with us. There should be the May Altar.

Our mother gave us her bridal veil, a long tulle veil, which was hung around the MTA picture, the Schoenstatt picture of Mary, and so beautified it. Then we said that we still wanted flowers because you give flowers to people you love.

Our mother gave us all of her small vases and we were given permission to always fetch all the small flowers in the garden, we should leave the big ones standing. So we started to make beautiful little bouquets of flowers on the bedside table under the picture of Mary. Usually there were at least four small bouquets in front of it. There were pansies, forget-me-nots, dandelions and daisies in all variations.

Throughout May we brought the bouquets and said with each bouquet a request or thanks to Mary.

We were happy to pray our evening prayer with our mother there, and if she had time, she read us a story before going to sleep from the booklet “The Most Beautiful Stories of Mary”.

We were both convinced that we had the most beautiful May altar ever and that the Blessed Mother had a lot of joy because we all fetched the flowers ourselves and arranged them with enthusiasm.

May – month of the Mother of God,
month in which we greet her in May devotions

It was around 1965 or 1966 when our parish priest, an older priest, started to hold May devotions only for children.

At first we were only 10-15 children who gathered in front of the May altar in our parish church. Nobody knew what would be given to us there.

The pastor of the city invited us twice a week at half past four for children’s May devotions.

He had all the children sit down at the May altar and we first sang a Marian song, then he explained that we would use it to greet the Blessed Virgin Mary and make her happy. She is our mother too. He said at the time that she cares for her children, also for us. And to show us that, he wanted to read us a story. He read from the book “The Most Beautiful Stories of Mary” every May devotional.

It was exciting for us children to hear how Mary intervened, e.g. in the war or in a family; we all listened with great fascination.

At that time, many of us still had no television and playing together on the street was our greatest joy. We, who had experienced the first May devotion, told the other children on our street about it while playing. When the bells rang for the next service, we were all invited. So every child who lived in our street at the time went every time. It didn’t matter whether they were Catholic or Protestant, whether they went to church or not, the beautiful stories about Mary and the songs, too, the others wanted to experience that too. So the church pews on the side of the Marian altar were soon filled and every child in the area left everything behind and ran to May service so as not to miss it.

I still remember how much good it did us all back then and that it also welded us together.

In any case, we understood that Maria is doing something
and wants to do something with us, and helps us and protects us.