Reflecting Mary in our clothing is nothing new. Let’s not forget Our Lady’s design for Juan Diego’s tilma (a mantle woven out of cactus fibers). The miraculous image of Our Lady appeared in the fibers, filled with symbols those within the culture would understand. By viewing Diego’s garment, they came to realize the Gospel and many converted (read more here.) Whose to say we are not called to do something similar?
Now, before you get out your sewing and embroidery kits to create murals of Mary on your clothing, let’s take a moment for some more probable options and why we care in the first place.
The Church dedicates the month of May as a time of honor and veneration of Mary the Mother of God. We strive to be like Mary as she knows the heart of Christ better than anyone else. She can teach us how to minister, console, and tend to the Sacred Heart. We have an opportunity to further reflect on her example and remind ourselves of the Gospel through what we wear this month.
1. Pondering the generosity of God’s mercy and His providence through the Magnificat
Mary’s song of praise is a bursting-joyous-melody that pours out from her yes, her fiat. Her heart aligns with God the Father, their desires united. She rejoices in her littleness and God’s generosity in choosing her to be the mother through which he will become incarnate. Read slowly through Luke 1:46-55. The main themes are surrounding the greatness of God and the littleness of His servants who He lavishes.
To dress in a way reflecting Mary’s submission (literally meaning “under the mission”) to the Lord as His lowly servant put on simpler pieces.
Keep loose cotton, linen, and hemp materials in mind. Various sacred art pieces depicting the Magnificat will have traces of red in Mary’s garments pointing to Christ’s coming Passion. Mary, having recited the Psalms since her youth would have been aware of the Messiah’s prophesied death. In her yes at the Annunciation, to be the Mother of Jesus, she says yes to His Passion. Wear subtle notes of red in your outfit reflecting this continuity between Mary’s yes to maternity and in that, her yes to Calvary.
2. Pondering Mary’s maternity and our call to motherhood (whether that’s spiritual, physical, or both)
Mary teaches us what it means to be a mother. Jesus gave us His own mother that we might come to know Him all the more through her guidance. Mary recognizes our need, and reminds us to go to her Son, to bring our concern to Him. When we are too weak to recognize our own need, she brings Jesus to us just as at the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11). Consider wearing something from your mother or grandmother. There is something so rich and profound about carrying ancestry with us in our clothing. Mothers are noted to be the heart of the family. When we wear something belonging to a mother, we wear the heart of our whole family (those before us and after us). To mother is to give life, nurture, cultivate truth, revel in beauty, and reflect the overflowing love of God.
3. Pondering the Marian Virtues
One way we can reflect upon the example of Mary and seek to imitate her is through the Marian Virtues (read more here. Here are some little ways to live them out in how we dress and style ourselves.
To be in a state of constant mental prayer is maintaining vigilance, an awareness of God's presence, intentionality in our clothing can help us here. Ardent charity, love of God overflowing to the intentional service and love of neighbor. Dressing in a way that allows us to be present to those around us and not distracted by adjusting our clothing is an act of ardent charity. Profound humility is knowing the truth of who we are before God, nothing more and nothing less—dressing in a way that reflects who we are rather than a mask to hide it.
Universal mortification is the act of seeking to deny our will and impulses through submission to the will of God. Surrendering impulse buys at the thrift store, avoiding fast fashion, or the need to buy into a trend. Blind obedience is confidence in God’s goodness and surrendering the need to know; consider having a trusted family member or friend pick out your outfit for the day and wear it graciously. Divine wisdom is the intention of calling upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and inspiration often. Ask the Holy Spirit for creative inspiration as you get dressed for the day, particularly with the intention that you will reflect the Creator in the crafting of your outfit.
Surpassing purity is the result of our desires being rooted in God alone, detached from all else. Wear a white dress and surrender the fear of staining it. Angelic sweetness is the act of radiating joy and peace to those we encounter. Consider wearing a floral crown or any kind of floral ornament in your hair. Lively faith is the act of not counting the cost and always seeking to glorify God. Go the extra mile in getting ready for Mass: give yourself an additional 10-minutes, wear heels, make-up, and/or a formal dress. Heroic patience is the attitude of always trusting that God is at work even when circumstances seem to say otherwise. For an event or workday you are not looking forward to, spend time the night before styling an outfit you enjoy with a bit of blue to remind you Our Lady is with you.
4. Pondering the unified message of all Marian apparitions: Pray, Fast, Repent
From Fatima to Kibeho, Our Lady continues to remind us to pray without ceasing, fast for the condition of the world, and repent from our own sin often. Dress in a way that reflects one of your favorite Marian Apparition to recall this message. We have listed a few below to get you started.
Fatima: White and gold garments; accessories with gold stars
Lourdes: Bright blue and yellow (for both the yellow roses at the grotto and the water as well as the blue sash Our Lady wore around her waist)
Kibeho: Mock neck or ruffled collar; anything floral (as Our Lady often requested the seers to bring her water for the various flowers at her feet which represented humanity).
Knock: White garment with brown leather accessories (she came with St. Joseph and St. John, and a lamb on the altar also appeared in the sky).
Guadalupe: Turquoise and pink/coral with gold accessories
5. Pondering the bittersweetness of love
The origin of the name “Mary” comes from “sea of bitterness” along with the Egyptian origin meaning also “beloved.” The simultaneous meaning points to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart united to her Son’s Sacred Heart. An overflow of love that embraces the bitterness of the cross. Our Lady submitted to the will of the Father, knowing that Calvary was not to be avoided but embraced in this overflow of love. Her heart was pierced in union with Christ’s (Luke 2:35). In reflection of this sacrificial love, wear navy and deep blues with shades of pink that signals the underlying joy knowing death does not have the final say. The Immaculate Heart is covered in white roses which we might ponder wearing white floral accessories.