"A-ha," thought Father John Sheedy, "There's Mrs. McCarthy crossing the schoolyard. I'll go over and congratulate her. After all, it's not everyone's granddaughter who is elected the May Queen."
As Father John caught up with the elderly Irishwoman, he began, "Congratulations, Mrs. McCarty. You must be very proud of Mary Patrice. It is surely an honor to be lovely and beautiful enough to be chosen May Queen."
"An honor, your Reverence? I know your Reverence means it well, but seems to me that it's a dishonor. 'Tis stealing and honor from the best May Queen the world has ever known. And to think that it is my Mary Patrice who steals it from Queen Mary, Jesus' Mother. I could weep out my eyes to think that these young folk want any other Queen but Mary, the Queen of heaven, the real Queen of May."
Father John was in a fix, so to speak. He did his best to tell old Mrs. McCarty, who loved Mother Mary with every bit of her seventy-nine-year-old body and soul, that Queen Mary Patrice wasn't stealing any honor from Queen Mother Mary. But Mrs. McCarty wasn't to be consoled. Instead, she burst forth, "Your Reverence, for seventy-nine years, now, I've been habing a May Queen, the most beautiful and lovely there is, and I don't need any beauty contest to tell me who it is. It isn't my grand-daughter, your Reverence, but it's Jesus 'Mother. I don't believe in all this new fangled business of picking a May Queen. 'Tis not that I want to be impolite to you, Father, or ungrateful, but Mary is my Queen, and the Queen of us all."
Then she went on to tell Father Sheedy for Mrs. McCarty loved to talk about the beauty contest that had been held long ago in her dear old Ireland. It was her brother Larry who had told her the story.
All the fairest and loveliest maidens of the lovely Emerald Isle were invited to the contest. The most beautiful was to be chosen the Beauty Queen and to preside over a great festival held in the Maytime. There were blue-eyed maidens with golden hair, there were brown-eyed maidens with chestnut hair, there were beautiful, winsome girls from all over the Green Isle. The judges went from one to another, in the hope that they could choose the most lovely. It was a hard task.
At the very end of the line stood someone who didn't look much like a beauty. It was Mike O'Toole, carrying a large bundle in his hands. When the judges came to him, they were quite angry, although a few smiled at the joke - a man in a beauty contest. they told him to make himself scarce and to take his package with him. But they couldn't frighten Mike. He answered that they should be ashamed of themselves, that there was only one beauty queen, and he was going to show them her picture. Some of the judges looked embarrassed. Others listened hear what Mike would say next. He told them that his Beauty was not only beautiful, but she was good. She was the best and most lovely maiden the world has ever known. The judges looked at one another. By this time an eager crowd had gathered around Mike. Quick fingers helped him to untie the large package, for all were curious to see who was the most beautiful and the best that the world has ever known. Finally all the wrapping were loosened, and Mike held up to the gaze of all, a picture of Mary, the Mother of God.
Just why did Mike choose her? Just why did old Mrs. McCarty want to see no other win a beauty contest that would make her May Queen? Because Mary is the loveliest and the best maiden that God ever created. she is very, very, beautiful. God, Himself chose her, for He sent His angel to her, and the angel used God's words, saying, "Hail, full of grace."
Mary is good. She is kind and gentle. The angel told her what God thought of her goodness when he said, "The Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women . . . " Mary never had anything to do with sin. From the first moment of her life here on earth, Mary was Immaculate. If God loved her, so we, His children and hers, should also love her. But that isn't hard. It is easy to love people who are good. That is why Mary is Queen of our hearts.
Courage and bravery are other qualities that one admires in a lovely maiden. Mike O'Toole told the judges that his Beauty Queen had both. She was brave. She had faced all the dangers of life in the hard journey to Bethlehem before Jesus was born. She was heroic in being glad to have the stable for a home. She was courageous in Bethlehem and Nazareth. She bravely left her home and went into far-away Egypt. The trip was long and tiring, but Mary wasn't afraid. Nor was she frightened in that strange land.
Mary was most brave when she met Jesus on the way to Calvary as she pushed her way through the crowd and didn't miind the way the way the soldiers spoke to her. The Fourth Station tells us that story. Mary was brave on Calvary as she stood beneath the cross of her dying Son, who was giving His life to redeem a world that had crucified Him. She didn't mind that people made fun of her and laughed at her, as they pointed out, saying, "See, there's His Mother. She should be blamed, too." She knew that many of the crowd thought Jesus was a criminal.
Mary is given special graces that make her able to help her children. All graces comes to us through the hands of this beautiful Queen. She is most generous with those graces and her gifts. St. Bernard says in a prayer approved by the Church that "never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection or implored thy help was left unaided." Mary never fails.
Mary helps her children whenever they ask. She is the Mother of us all, and, as a kind Mother, she will grant all the requests of her children, if they are for their good. She never forgets that Jesus gave her to us when He said to her, "Woman, behold thy son!" and that Jesus gave us to her when He said to St. John, "Son, behold thy Mother!"
A story is told about a criminal who was to be executed. A priest tried to bring this man back to God. He told the sinner of the infinite mercy of God. He spoke of the reward of heaven, and the pains of hell. He tried everything he could think of to make this criminal turn to God. He begged; he pleaded with to turn to his Creator and Redeemer with sorrow for his sins. But the man refused to listen. He did not want God. He said he would take the punishment of hell. He didn't need God and he didn't want Him.
At last the priest said to him, "Let us, at least, say a Hail Mary!" In order to be rid of him, the condemned man agreed. But hardly had he finished the prayer to Mary than he remembered what she had meant to him in his childhood days. He repeated the words, "Pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death." Sorrow and contrition filled his soul. He made his confession and later received Holy Communion. At peace with God, he offered his life for his sins.
What brought about the conversion of this hardened sinner? Mary. It was she, the powerful Virgin who loves her children and who will not, if she can do anything about it, allow them to be lost. St. Alphonsus tells us that a true child of Mary will never be lost. No wonder that Mike O'Toole told the judges that the most beautiful maiden was also the most powerful, and added, "What is the use of beauty without the power to help others?"
So it is easy to see why Mary is the Queen of Love and Beauty. She is easily first in any beauty contest. For beauty without goodness is not worth much. Many of the maidens who enter so-called beauty contests really cannot help being beautiful. God made them so. But they can help being good as can every one of us.
You will be good if you cling to Mary. Take her, the mother of Beautiful Love, as your special guide and patroness. Love her. Do everything in union with her. Often say, "All for Jesus through Mary," and "My Queen, my Mother, I am thine. Keep me, guard me, as thine own."
Every day you find time for doing the hundred little things that delight you. Why not find time to do something to give pleasure to Mary - the saying of her Rosary? Mary once lived on earth as you do. She knows what temptations assail you; she knows the difficulties you have. She, too, had to go to school; so she knows what study is, and is familiar with the solving of difficult problems in arithmetic, and writing of themes and compositions. Ask her to help you.
She knows all the snares that the devil lays for your most priceless possession - your purity. Ask her, the Mother of Purity, to help you keep your soul white and pure. She can, and will help you. Bring all the souls you meet to this Mother, and bring her to all these souls. She is the Queen of all. She is earth's loveliest May Queen. You can see now why Mrs. McCarty wanted none other but Mary. Let Mary also be your 'one and only."
~ adapted from, "Hello Halo," Imprimatur 1947 ~