The Holy Name of Mary
Homily notes per Air Maria. The entire homily by Father Ignatius Manfredonia, FI, is on the link at the bottom of this reflection.
The origin of the name of Mary does not come from man. Sts. Joachim and Ann were inspired by God above all to give this name to their daughter. St. Peter Damian says, “The name of Mary came from the treasury of the Divinity.” If you take the very first page of the Bible in Latin, you find the name of Mary. “And God called the waters Maria.” Sea. Mary’s name, of course, means the sea. And the saints interpreted this to mean “Wide as Our Lady’s Name.” The sea in its greatness and vastness refers to the greatness and vastness of Our Lady’s virtues and the grace that she possesses. In addition, the sea, being so great, deep dark, profound, and mysterious, also refers to Our Lady being unfathomable. That is we can never completely understand who Mary is. This is also affirmed in the promulgation of the Immaculate Conception. No mind, either angelic or human, will be able to understand the Immaculate Conception – who Our Lady is. Only God can understand the ocean deepness creatures and all therein. Only God who created Mary can completely and fully understand her.
And we see in the opening prayer of Mass, we pray, “May your name bring us comfort and strength.” In fact these are the two effects of devoutly invoking the name of Mary: comfort and strength.
The name of Mary gives us comfort. Her name has a certain sweetness to it. That’s why, in the Salve Regina, we pray, “O sweet Virgin Mary.” Also in Sirach, the Church applies the passage to Mary which reads “you will remember me as sweeter than honey.” Consolation and joy should come regularly upon invoking the name of Mary devoutly, reverently, and sincerely. In fact, a special grace has been given to some holy people to have a sweet, sensible taste on their lips in pronouncing the name of Our Lady.
There’s a small reflection by Blessed Henry of Sousa in which he reflects that, if just her name has this effect in the soul, what does her person do? What will it be like to actually meet and come to know her person in Heaven?
The other effect of Mary’s name is strength. The power of Our Lady’s name should be invoked especially in times of temptation and at the moment of death. St. Maximilian Kolbe says to call on Mary in every difficulty. The saints encourage us to invoke Our Lady especially in times of temptation against chastity. The virtue of purity is dear to Our Lady. We often call her Virgin Mary. St Luke writes, “And the Virgin’s name was Mary.” Our Lady always held the virtue of purity dear to her heart. St. Alphonsus says that invoking the name of Mary is one of the sure signs that we did not give consent to sin. Did you invoke the name of Our Lady? Then it’s a sure sign that you didn’t give your consent.
Our Lady’s name should also be invoked at the moment of death. How many times have we read about the death of the saints? They leave this world, invoking the names of Jesus and Mary. They tell us that the name of Mary is, in fact, a key to the gates of Heaven.
God grants this grace to invoke the name of Mary at death only to those whom He is about to save. A providential sign of someone’s salvation is their having the grace of invoking the Holy Name of Mary at the moment of death.
It’s also significant that we name our website Air Maria. Breathe freely. The name we should breathe every day is Maria. So the person who devoutly invokes Mary and frequently has recourse to her evidences a sign of life in the soul, an indication that they are in the state of grace. Let’s make invoking the name of Mary a holy habit throughout our lives. Let us remember to call upon her especially in times of temptation and at the moment of death.
Listen to the homily on this link: