Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Feast of the Visitation: Tea Party and May Crowning

Before May began, I started thinking about the idea of hosting a May Crowning and Tea Party for the mothers and daughters of our homeschooling group.  We hosted a Tea Party for the Blessed Mother's Birthday in September, and I was hoping to do something similar here at our new house.

The problem was that all the weekends were full!  We had end-of-year celebrations, the dads had a fishing trip ("retreat") planned, and we had guests coming to visit.  So I tried to content myself with the small May Crowning at the beginning of Mass one Sunday and hoped that maybe I'd be able to do something fun for the Feast of the Visitation.

The Visitation is my favorite Feast Day, Rosary mystery, and one of my favorite Gospel passages.  I also love that it is a name day for both of my girls, Mary and Elizabeth!  At the Visitation, Mother Mary is pregnant with Our Lord and goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is also expecting John the Baptist.  When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb.

The Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
for He has looked with favor on His lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: 
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name.
He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of His arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, 
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of His servant Israel
for he has remembered His promise of mercy,
the promise He made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.

And so, it worked out that a few families were able to come over for a Friday morning celebration.  When I looked at those attending, I realized we'd be able to set up a tea party for the girls, and the boys could help serve and then eat in the kitchen.  Families brought brunch items to share.

We had a German Puff Pancake, fruit salad, strawberry shortcake, banana bread, orange juice, and tea. The day before, Mary Clare sewed a beautiful pillow and crown for Our Lady.  I forgot to tell her I had planned to crown our new backyard Mary State.  So Ellie made another little crown that morning before our friends arrived.

Ellie and her friend E each got to crown one of the statues.  We started inside.  The children lined up with their flowers picked from home and around our yard.  No need for expensive store-bought flowers; Our Lady loves the simple gifts of nature.

I printed out songsheets with the words to "Bring Flowers of the Rarest" (Queen of the May).  I played this version of it on YouTube on my iPhone so we could sing along with the music:

Mary Queen of the May (Bring Flowers of the Rarest), performed by John McDermott

Bring flow'rs of the fairest,
Bring flow'rs of the rarest,
From garden and woodland
And hillside and vale;
Our full hearts are swelling,
Our Glad voices telling
The praise of the loveliest
Rose of the vale.

O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

Our voices ascending,
In harmony blending,
Oh! Thus may our hearts turn
Dear Mother, to thee;
Oh! Thus shall we prove thee
How truly we love thee,
How dark without Mary
Life's journey would be.

O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May,
O Mary! we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

We processed outside to crown our backyard statue of Mary, still singing.  We just did the first two verses but then started over at the beginning and sang it again.

E crowned Our Lady and then the children each brought up their little flowers to place at her feet.  For those who may not understand our devotion to Mary, it is an extension of our love for Her Son.  Just as we honor our own mothers in May, we honor the Mother of Our Lord, who accepted God's gift in humility and raised Jesus Christ.  He spent so many years before his public ministry with Mary and Joseph, so we honor them and ask them to pray for us to always follow their Son.

Even if you don't do it with a group of friends, it is a nice tradition to do within your own family, and especially fun for little girls to prepare for!

Another May Crowning tradition is for the children who have received their First Holy Communion that spring to be the ones who crown Mary, wearing their special dresses and suits again.  Ellie and E both wore their Communion dress for the crowning.

Here is Our Lady with the flowers at her feet.  One of the older girls also took some flowers and decorated the crown even more after the crowning.  I hope next year we can grow some flowers in our little Mary garden here!

And the special statue on our family altar also has a beautiful blue and white crown.  What a lovely way to celebrate spring-time, celebrate the month of Our Lady, celebrate the Visitation, have a May Crowning, mark the end of the school year, and also have a fun tea party!  Thanks to all our friends who joined us!

Oh Mary we crown thee with blossoms today, 
Queen of the Angels, 
Queen of the May!

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