Thursday, May 22, 2008

May Crowning: How to plan and carry it out in your parish



Here is a great post from Peggy Bowes about her LFGC group at Laughlin AFB in Texas. Thanks for sharing, Peggy!
To help other leaders, I'm posting my "blueprint" in hopes that it
will save someone some work (perhaps too late for this year but it
may be helpful for next year's planning):

1. Contact your parish priest with plenty of advance notice. Keep
in mind that May is a busy month with the Easter season (most years),
First Communion, Mothers' Day, etc. I drafted the proposal below,
which I submitted to our parish priest, asking for a meeting to
discuss it further if he was interested. I think it's easier to get
a May Crowning done during Mass if Father doesn't view it as "his"
project, but do give him room for inputs:

LITTLE FLOWERS GIRLS' CLUB MAY CROWNING CEREMONY PROPOSAL,
May 18, 2008

1. The girls will process in at the beginning of Mass and join their
families in the reserved pews up front. (Reserved signs available
through the parish? Or, we can make our own.) They will all wear
Easter/First Communion dresses, Little Flowers sashes with patches,
white gloves, and crowns of flowers representing each of the nine
virtues they studied this year.

2. The actual crowning could be accomplished after the homily,
after Communion or at the end of Mass.

3. The Little Flowers Leader will read a short history of the May
Crowning ceremony (text attached) and four girls will each read a
short summary of what we've studied this year (text attached).

4. The girls will go to the back of the church and process up with
the crown and bouquets of fresh flowers. The youngest girl will
carry a pillow with the crown for Mary, also made from the flowers
representing each virtue studied. Fr. X will bless the crown (with
holy water?), and one of the girls will crown the statue of Mary.
(Ladder will be needed—we can provide one of the chapel doesn't have
one). Another option is to place a small statue of Mary in front of
the altar.

5. During the crowning, a Marian hymn will be played/sung by the
choir, preferably "Bring Flowers of the Rarest (Fairest)". Another
option: We have the May Crowning Song—"Bring Flowers of the Fairest"
on CD (Little Flowers Wreath I/Wreath II) if it can be played in the
church.

6. After Mass, the girls will process out, following the altar
servers.

7. After Mass, refreshments will be served, provided by the mothers
of the girls in the club. (Note: A "flower" theme is nice-- flower-
shaped sugar cookies or a flower-themed cake, etc.)

Attachments (Speaking parts):

Leader:
Good morning! I'm ___________, and I'm the leader of the
_____________ chapter of the Little Flowers Girls' Club. We are
honored today to perform a May Crowning ceremony.

The month of May is both named for and dedicated to Mary, and
Catholics have long honored the Blessed Mother by placing a crown on
her image. Crowing a statue of the Lord's Mother is symbolic of the
honor we give her as the one chosen by God to bear His Son, our
Salvation.

Mary is Queen of heaven and earth because she was the perfect
follower of Christ, who is the absolute "crown" of creation. She is
the Mother of the Son of God, who is the messianic King. She
remained steadfast in devotion to her Son, all the way to the foot of
the Cross. After the Ascension, she persevered in prayer with the
Church. She truly has won the "crown of righteousness", the "crown
of life", and the "crown of glory" promised to those who follow
Christ.

The tradition of crowing images was commonplace in the Eastern
Church. A blessed crown was frequently used to adorn icons in
churches to add additional splendor, much like a gilt frame.
In Rome during the late 16th century, Pope Clement VIII turned this
tradition of crowning images of Mary into a formal ceremony, which
was continued by successive popes.

In the United States, the tradition today is for school girls,
dressed in beautiful dresses, to crown a statue of Mary with a crown
of flowers during Mass.

We will begin the ceremony shortly, after the girls give a brief
summary of the virtues they've studied this year. We're always
excited to enroll new members, and the club will resume in the fall.
Check the bulletin for announcements.

1st girl:
We (number in club) girls are the Little Flowers Girls' Club. We
have spent the last nine months studying the virtues of Faith, Hope,
Love of God, Love of Neighbor, Obedience, Piety, Humility, Industry,
and Truthfulness. [Substitute virtues from Wreaths II, III, or IV if
appropriate.]

2nd girl:
Our role models are the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as our patroness,
St. Therese of Lisieux, and our own mothers. As examples of the
virtues we studied, we also learned about St. Catherine of Sienna,
St. Monica, St. Agnes, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, St. Joan of Arc,
St. Cecilia, St. Catherine Laboure, and St. Bridget of Sweden.

3rd girl:
The flowers around our hats and on the crown for our Blessed Mother
represent the virtues we have studied. They are sunflowers, ivy,
peonies, roses, carnations, forget-me-nots, violets, daffodils and
narcissus.

4th girl:
Our sashes are blue to help us remember the example of Mary, and we
have earned our patches through prayer and works of love and
charity. Next year we will study nine new virtues and we hope to add
more girls to our group.

I also printed out the text from this site on May Crowning liturgy:
http://www.catholicliturgy.com/index.cfm/FuseAction/TextContents/Index
/4/SubIndex/67/TextIndex/6

Our pastor was delighted with the plan and made a few minor changes.

I also found this site helpful, which was the source for the leader's
speaking part:
http://www.wf-f.org/MayCrowning.html

This site was also helpful:
http://campus.udayton.edu/mary//meditations/crownmed.html

Here's what I did to prep:

I made crowns of flowers for each of the girls using silk flowers on
a green pipe cleaner "base" (twist several together to fit the girls'
heads). (Throughout the year, I bought the flowers associated with
each virtue, intending to make the crowns at the end of the year.) I
cut the flowers off the hard plastic stems and used florist wire and
florist tape to make it easier to affix to the base. I had
originally intended to make the flowers as a crown for the girls to
wear on their heads, but the large size of the flowers looked a
little off on our relatively young girls, so I decided to use the
crown around hats instead. Luckily, we had our tea party the week
before, so all the girls had hats. If you're really on the ball, you
can make the crowns/hat pieces as a craft for "Industry" and have
this done ahead of time (and not be making crowns late the night
before...)

Our statue of Mary was very small, so the flowers I used for the
girls would overwhelm the statue, so I ran out and bought miniature
versions of the flowers. I had to get a bit creative (an open white
mini rose subbed for a carnation), but it looked beautiful. I used
the same technique (pipe cleaner base and floral wire/tape) to make
the miniature crown. I made a small pillow (blue satin, edged with
lace) to place the crown on, which was carried by the youngest girl.

To elevate the small statue, I used a box draped in light blue satin
and placed it in front of the altar, ensuring that it wouldn't be
higher than the altar.

To mark the reserved pews for families, I used white silk rosebuds,
wrapped in floral wire/tape and added some blue tulle and affixed
them to clips to place on the end of the pews. Make sure you mark
both ends of the pews (main aisle and side aisle) so that people who
come up the side aisles don't sit there by mistake.

I bought small glass vases, and a dozen roses, divided among the
vases, so the girls had fresh flowers to carry up and place by the
statue.

I called our choir director to ask if he could play/sing "Bring
Flowers of the Rarest". He remembered the hymn but didn't have sheet
music. I found the lyrics and sheet music at this link:
http://campus.udayton.edu/mary//resources/mayhymns.htm
and the choir did a wonderful job of playing and singing the hymn.

I designated my husband as the official photographer so that a bunch
of parents taking photos wouldn't distract from the ceremony.
Aftewards, the parents can take photos at their leisure.

We all arrived about 45 minutes before Mass to practice, and the
ceremony went off without a hitch. The congregation enjoyed the
ceremony, and we received many compliments. Fr. X hopes this
visibility will add more girls to our group next year. One woman
approached me after Mass and asked how she can start a group at the
parish to which she's moving this summer.

I hope this is helpful. Feel free to email me if you have any
questions. The photos at the link at the beginning of the email will
help explain some of my text.

Blessings,
Peggy

2 comments:

anita said...

What a heartfelt tribute to Mary, the mother of our Savior. Thank you for sharing...Anita

Anonymous said...

Beautiful ceremony! I love to see this tradition revived! However, I suggest not using recorded music in a Catholic Church. As Catholics, we know that music is meant to turn our thoughts heavenward and to be a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God. When recordings are used in place of live music, we run the risk of thinking of it as background filler instead of regarding it in terms of its true purpose.