Published May 25, 2006
The parish of Saint Luke’s in Dahlonega is a delightful community that I visited for the first time this past Sunday. It is a quaint community that is growing quickly with the expansion of young families who are settling in that part of the Archdiocese. There were a lot of little ones in arms and in tow at Mass.
This is a growing community and one that seems to reflect the nature of our Archdiocese with long-time parishioners welcoming the new arrivals and the happy blending of old customs and new traditions into a parish that seems alive and quite energetic. They will soon be building a new parish hall right next door to the venerable old church building—the old and the new blend well here.
Before the confirmation Mass began, the people who arrived at church early prayed the rosary. Msgr. Stephen Churchwell commented that “we’ll just have to wait until their prayer is finished!” I was happy to oblige.
This reminded me of the customs of many small rural parishes in southern Illinois where Sunday Mass frequently was preceded by the rosary. In farming communities, the intense and unrelenting work schedule frequently did not permit many extracurricular parish activities during the course of the week, but when those parishes gathered for Sunday Mass, they often began with this prayer to the Mother of God.
The week before, I made a visit to Holy Redeemer School for the Mass during which the youngsters crowned the Blessed Mother, another custom of Marian devotion during this month of May that is dedicated in a special way to Mary, the Mother of God. Marian devotions vary according to regions, cultures and local customs. But somehow the Catholic heart always finds time to honor this singular Woman of Faith during May.
I am regularly asked to bless rosaries for people. Sometimes the rosaries are new, and often they are old and well worn. Catholics everywhere have a tradition of love and veneration for Mary that is regularly captured in carrying and praying the rosary.
The Chapel of Saint Joachim and Anne at Saint George Village will soon have beautiful stain-glassed windows installed, including a special window to honor the Mother of God. Everywhere throughout the Archdiocese of Atlanta, people want expressions of our love and devotion to Mary, and May is a month particularly associated with such devotion and veneration.
The Mother of God continues to touch our lives in so many different ways and on numerous occasions.
With May soon coming to a close, I invite all of us to pause during these next few days to pray the rosary, say another favorite Marian prayer, or visit one of our chapels or churches to stop briefly at the display of one of her statues, banner, or shrines that remind us of Her love for us.
Old traditions and new customs blend well in May, as we give thanks to God for the care and protection that His Mother provides for us all—no matter where we might be.