Fr. Angleo Mary Gieger is a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate who recently wrote a fine essay for Catholic World Report
titled, "Pope Benedict XVI’s Legacy: Faith and Future"
He blogs regularly at Mary Victrix
, and has just posted a piece, "Queen
of the May," that is a great reflection on the Virgin Mary compared to
the "goddess" of pagan and neo-pagan construct. Fr. Gieger writes:
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.
“Bring Flowers of the Rarest”
is an extra-liturgical May crowning hymn that seems to be a rather
sentimental nod to the ambiguity of modern May “devotion,” and perhaps
(or perhaps not) an assault upon it. It is a preconciliar hymn that I
have often heard characterized as “schmaltzy” and inappropriate for the
liturgy, though I have heard it many times used in traditional circles
for Holy Mass.
What interests me here is its relation to the pagan or neopagan
celebrations associated with May Day, the spring festival. The “Queen
of the May” or “May Queen” is a personification of Spring which is
ritualized in May Day celebrations by the selection of a young girl
dressed in white and crowned with flowers who leads the May Day parade.
British folklore has it that of old the ritual ended with the blood
sacrifice of the May Queen.
It would seem that like the celebration of All Hallows Eve or
Halloween (meaning the same thing), which Christianized another pagan
festival, the May Crowning and the designation of May as Our Lady’s
Month is an attempt to exorcize the spirits of paganism and take what
might be assimilated from the pagan festivities and turn them to the
worship of the True God and veneration of His Holy Mother. (One must
remember that neopaganism [modern paganism] is itself in many cases an
attempt to artificially tear society away from its Christian roots to a
mythological pre-Christian religion.)
What is at odds here is the pagan and Christian conceptions of
femininity and virginity. It is the ongoing conflict between light and
darkness in Christian Chivalry, between the goddess and the Blessed
Mother. There is, of course, a very legitimate sense in which
femininity symbolizes the immanent as opposed to the masculine
transcendent. God is both. But if he is present to the world it is
because he created it from nothing and sustains it in existence, and
this means that He is totally other, that is, radically transcendent
from that which He creates. This is why God is a He and not a She.
Pantheistic religions, on the other hand, give such high value to the
feminine, that is, to the goddess, because for them, the divine is
radically immanent. It is to be identified with creation. The reading
of this immanence leads to the topsy-turviness of radical feminism and
the masculine worship of sex. Either way, women are the losers.
Continue reading on the Mary Victix blog.