Most Holy Name of Mary
by Mark Alessio
We know something of the abundant graces with which Mary
by the Blessed Trinity. To God alone is revealed the depths of this
of grace, but through the papal definition of the Dogma of the
Conception, we are given some small glimpse into its clear waters.
died on Calvary because of His boundless love for humanity. Imagine,
the love He feels for His own Mother. Imagine to what degree the name
Mary is a name beloved by God, and with what virtue this name-----the
name of the Immaculate Conception and Queen of Heaven-----is
The Blessed Virgin does not exist in a vacuum, nor
to Her. Her Spiritual Maternity is tuned to the rebirth of souls, and
desire is that each and every man and woman avail themselves of the
won by Our Lord on Calvary, for Jesus Christ is the End of all Marian
God could have ordained the Incarnation in any manner He chose, and
effected our Redemption in any number of ways: What He DID choose was
have the Mother of the Redeemer play a vital role in both. Cardinal
Henry Newman [d. 1890] underscored the implications of this fact:
"Your name, O Mary, is a precious ointment,
the odor of Divine grace. Let this ointment of salvation enter the
recesses of our souls." [St. Ambrose +397]
"O great, O gentle, O most lovable Mary, Thy Holy
spoken without inflaming the heart. To those who love Thee, if is
consolation and joy even to think of Thee; Thou art a sweet memory to
who honor Thee." [St. Bernard +1153]
"When I pronounce the name of Mary, I feel myself
love and joy, that between the tears and happiness with which I
this beautiful name, I feel as though my heart might leave my breast.
this sweet name is like a honeycomb dissolving in the innermost
of my soul." [Blessed Henry Suso +1365]
"Your name, O Mother of God, is filled with Divine
[St. Methodius +847]
"The name of Mary is the key of the gates of Heaven."
"I say then, when once we have mastered the idea,
suckled, and handled the Eternal in the form of a child, what limit is
conceivable to the rush and flood of thoughts which such a doctrine
. . . It was the creation or a new idea and of a new sympathy, a new
and worship, when the holy Apostles announced that God had become
and a supreme love and devotion to Him became possible, which seemed
before that revelation. But, besides this, a second range of thoughts
opened to mankind, unknown before, and unlike any other, as soon as it
was understood that that Incarnate God had a Mother." [A Letter to the
Rev. E. B. Pusey, 1866]
The Incarnation brought about "a new sympathy"
man, and "a supreme love and devotion to Him became possible, which
hopeless before that revelation." At one time, God would say to Moses,
"Thou canst not see My face: for man shall not see Me and live . . .
when My glory shall pass, I will set thee in a hole of the rock, and
thee with My right hand, till I pass: And I will take away My hand, and
thou shalt see My back parts: but My face thou canst not see." How
it is to compare these verses with the following lines concerning Our
from the Gospel of St. John: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt
us, [and we saw His glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of
the Father,] full of grace and truth."
Here is indeed a new sympathy between Creator and
the Incarnation, the birth of the Incarnate Word of the Virgin Mary,
Omnipotent God Who had declared, "thou canst not see My face, for man
not see Me and live," would stand silent before human accusers. And
accusers did not behold the face of God only, but they blindfolded Him,
and smote His face. And they asked Him, saying: Prophesy, who is it
struck Thee?" [Lk. 22: 64] Who could ever have conceived of such Divine
condescension? God becomes man, and is abused by men. Everything Jesus
taught, everything He did, was done for the sake of humanity, for the
of souls. This is the loving God Who gave us Mary, and who enriched Her
very name with grace. So, when we think of Our Lady, and utter Her
we are reminded of Her Son, of His Birth, Passion, Death and
"After the most holy and adorable Name of Jesus,
is no name
more glorious or more powerful than the name of Mary. At the mention of
this name, the Angels rejoice and the devils tremble; through this
of this name, sinners obtain grace and pardon." [St. Peter Canisius
"For by the greatness of the beauty, and of the
of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby [Wi. 13:5)," teaches the
Scriptures. Mary's beauty of soul and body, her abundance of graces and
her powers of mediation are all indicators, pointing back to her
to the One Who fashioned such a marvelous creature. If the Creator may
be "known" by the "greatness of the beauty" of the creature, then we
give thanks to God for Mary. And more than that. By observing Her, we
learn something of Him. When we hear Her name, we think of Him:
"The name of Mary came from the treasury of the
" As often as the sweet name of Mary comes to your
lips, you ought
to represent to yourself a masterpiece of God's power, so perfect and
sublime that even the arm of the Almighty could not produce anything
perfect in the shape of a pure creature."
"Jesus and Mary." The two names alone, devoid even
petitions, stand as an invocation of God's mercy. "Who is She that
forth as the morning rising," ask the Canticles, "fair as the moon,
as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?" This question is asked
in the Canticles: "Who is She that goeth up by the desert, as a pillar
of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh, and frankincense, and of all
powders of the perfumer? . . . Who is this that cometh up from the
flowing with delights, leaning upon Her beloved?"
[St. Leonard of Port Maurice +175]
"Wherever you may go, or wherever you may be, implore
upon Mary . . . Sing these two names, sing them in your heart, sing
with your lips, sing them with your hands." [Ven. Thomas a' Kempis
Of these inspired texts, St. Alphonsus Liguori [+1787]
gather from the sacred Canticles, that on the Assumption of our Blessed
Lady, the Angels asked Her name three times." And what is the reason
this threefold query? St. Alphonsus responds with a quotation from
of St. Laurence: "And why do the Angels so often ask the name of their
Queen? . . . It was so sweet even to the Angels to hear it
that they desired to hear that sweet name in reply.
And what of mankind? Why does the name of a human woman
to those still struggling in this "valley of tears?" What bond do we
or intuit in our hearts, which so unites the Blessed Virgin to God the
Father that He would honor her name above all others after that of His
"Can the Father help loving what the Son loves? Is
not in the
very person of God the Son that Heaven and earth are to be reconciled;
and are not all our hopes actually founded on His being the eternal
between God and man? So that it must be taken as indisputably
that She, through whom this bond was formed, will be especially loved."
[Bishop Jacques Benigne Bossuet, d. 1704, Sermon on the Nativity of the
The Kingdom of God is not a democracy. There is a
sense of "strata," governing its inhabitants. The Angels are the
courtiers of the Heavenly court. There are special places of
reserved there for the Martyrs and virgins who gave all they had for
Jesus is "King," and Mary is "Queen," of this Court. This Queen stands
in a unique, unparalleled relation to the Blessed Trinity, for She is
Daughter, Mother and Spouse to the Three Divine Persons. Therefore,
God is just and good, He will love Her with a special love, a love
for Her alone because of who and what She is. There is an
for the name "Mary" which reflects this simple truth. Based on
supposition that the name has Egyptian roots [meryt = "much
the Virgin's name would be understood to mean, "Beloved of God." Again,
it is an appropriate and fitting title for Her.
It is always an enjoyable and beneficial endeavor to
Virgin. Regarding Her name, it might seem odd to some to focus on a
which can be considered "peripheral" to the great struggle for
It is one thing, perhaps, to make an in-depth study of the Dogma of the
Immaculate Conception, for the ultimate good of souls hinges on an
or rejection of this Revealed Truth. But, Our Lady's name? Why give it
a second thought?
"Whether you eat or drink," wrote St. Paul, or whatsoever
do all to the glory of God." [1 Co. 10: 31] If fulfilling the needs of
the body can be occasions for giving glory to God for His mercy and
then how much more can we do so through our intellects and wills . . .
the rational faculties which enable us to ponder the things of God, and
to accept them?
To ponder the name of Mary, and its possible meaning, is
mosaic, a three-dimensional picture of the love and solicitude of Jesus
Christ for mankind. It is to meditate on all facets of our redemption,
from the still serenity of Bethlehem to the chaotic madness of Calvary.
"When we talk on earthly subjects or politics, we grow weary," wrote
John Vianney [+1859], "but when we talk of the Holy Virgin, it is
new." Like a recitation of the Rosary, which keeps the historical
of salvation history ever before our minds and hearts, a meditation on
Our Lady's name will reward us with fresh inspiration.
And more. The name of the Mother of God is efficacious.
that we invoke it in our trials and necessities, as did John Sobieski
the Catholic warriors at Lepanto. He has proven this again and again,
the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary is yet another reminder that when we
invoke this name, we call upon not only a Queen, not only a Mother . .
. but upon an Intercessor, Advocate and Mediatrix:
"As wax melts before fire, so do the devils lose
those souls who remember the name of Mary and devoutly invoke it." [St.
Bonaventure + 1274]
Nor can we forget the favors bestowed down through the ages
supplicants at pilgrimage spots such as Lourdes, Fatima and Santiago de
Compostela, favors which are summed up in the words of Blessed Raymond
Jordano to the Virgin, quoted by St. John Eudes in his book on Mary's
"Thy name, above the names of the Saints, has virtue to comfort the
to cure the sick, to give sight to the blind, to soften hearts, to
the weary, to fortify those who combat and to overthrow the tyranny of
the demons." Some truly inspired meditations on the Holy Name of Mary
been set down by Catholics throughout the ages. Often, the intent was
make a doctrinal point, to teach something about the ways and mercy of
God, and to inspire souls to avail themselves of Mary, a mother and an
intercessor of such might that it can truly be said, with no scruple,
"Her Son esteems Her prayers so greatly, and is so desirous to satisfy
Her, that when She prays it seems as if She rather commanded than
and was rather a queen than a handmaid [St. Peter Damian]."
" As breathing is not only a sign but even a cause of
so the name
of Mary, which is constantly found on the lips of God's servants, both
proves that they are truly alive, and at the same time causes and
their life, and gives them every succor . . . nay Your name, O Mother
God, be the last sound that escapes my lips." [St. Germanus of
Because Our Lady has been rightly called "God's
only fitting to give the final word to a poet, to one who chisels words
like marble, chipping away until the perfect image remains. This poet
Richard Cranshaw [1613-1649], a convert to Catholicism and son of a
Puritan preacher. His poem, On the Glorious Assumption of Our
Lady, chronicles the "earthly" reactions to Mary's Assumption,
all of nature seems saddened by the disappearance of Our Lady:
"The shrill winds chide,
the waters weep Thy stay;
The fountains murmur;
and each loftiest tree bows
low'st his heavy top,
to look for Thee."
Further on, the poet, acting as a "spokesman" for
makes a bold
speech to Our Lady. In these verses, the indescribable worth of Mary's
name is declared in words which may never have found their equal:
"Heav'n calls Her, and She must away.
As we reflect on and enjoy these various meditations and
recognizing how brightly burned the desire in souls of former times to
honor Mary's blessed name, we can well imagine the voice of Our Lord
to each and every one of us: "Go thou, and do likewise."
Heav'n wills not, and She cannot stay.
Go then; go glorious.
On the golden wings
Of the bright youth of Heav'n,
Under so sweet a burden,
Go, since Thy dread Son will have it so.
And while Thou goest, our song and
Will, as we may, reach after Thee.
Hail, Holy Queen of humble hearts!
We in Thy praise will have our parts.
Thy precious Name shall be
Thy self to us; and we
With holy care will keep it by us.
We to the last
Will hold it fast
And no Assumption shall deny us.
All the sweetest show'res
Of our fairest flow'res
Will we strow upon it.
Though our sweets cannot make it sweeter,
They can take themselves
Maria, men and Angels sing
Maria, Mother of Our King."
from the October 2001 Issue of Catholic