Wednesday, September 12, 2012

For the Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Most of us are used to reverencing the Holy Name of Jesus. After all, it is by no other name that men shall be saved (cf. Acts 4:12). Likewise, at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth (cf. Phil 2:10). But, on this special day we reverence a different name, "Mary," the Blessed Virgin and the Mother of God.

This may seem odd, and it may even make you feel uncomfortable, but there is certainly nothing wrong with it once you understand the nature of a name. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the name is the icon of the person:
2156 The sacrament of Baptism is conferred "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."85 In Baptism, the Lord's name sanctifies man, and the Christian receives his name in the Church. This can be the name of a saint, that is, of a disciple who has lived a life of exemplary fidelity to the Lord. The patron saint provides a model of charity; we are assured of his intercession. The "baptismal name" can also express a Christian mystery or Christian virtue. "Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to see that a name is not given which is foreign to Christian sentiment."86

2157 The Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the Sign of the Cross: "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." The baptized person dedicates the day to the glory of God and calls on the Savior's grace which lets him act in the Spirit as a child of the Father. The sign of the cross strengthens us in temptations and difficulties.

2158 God calls each one by name.87 Everyone's name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it.

2159 The name one receives is a name for eternity. In the kingdom, the mysterious and unique character of each person marked with God's name will shine forth in splendor. "To him who conquers . . . I will give a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it."88 "Then I looked, and Lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty- four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads."89

85. Mt 28:19.
86. CIC, Can. 855.
87. Cf. Isa 43:1; Jn 10:3.
88. Rev 2:17.
89. Rev 14:1.
If the name is sacred and "demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it," then the name of the Mother of God is second only to the name of Jesus, for "Mary" is the icon of God's greatest creature.

When we invoke any name, we make that person present, both in our own minds, and in the minds of those who hear it. We also call to mind the saints who bear the name, and who interceed for all those who share the name in common. The name is holy for it makes present God's most dignified creatures. Thus, we should never curse the name of any person.

In particular, when we invoke the name of "Jesus" or "Mary," we must ensure that it is always with the utmost reverence and humility. These are not just any old names. Instead, they are the names of the two persons who had the most integral role to play in our salvation.

Miriam, Domina, Mary: Blessed be your holy name! For more on the optional memorial and the name of Mary, see the following: Pax Christi,

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