Maria, the Beloved: Contemplating the Virgin’s Holy Name

On September 12, we celebrated the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary. The mysteries and marvels of the sacred name of Maria are so vast an ocean that the field of Mariology will never finish contemplating them, even through all the days of eternity. For the Name of Maria means and denotes, among other beautiful significations, Beloved of God, Star of Light, Sea of Graces, Ocean of Sorrows. St. Montfort says beautifully, “God the Father gathered all the waters together and called them the seas (maria). He gathered all his graces together and called them Mary (Maria)” [I].

The Holy Name of Jesus Our Lord means “God our Savior,” a most beautiful and apt Name, for He alone is our God and became our Savior through Mary. “And she shall bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Another beautiful typology implied in the Holy Name of His Virgin Mother is Star. Mary is the star that led the world to Jesus Christ. She is the bright light that announced the brightness of His coming. She is the comfort of the wayfarer, the guide of the wanderer, the help of the helpless, the compass that points to God, the Star that lights the path to Christ.

It is said: And the Virgin’s name was Mary. Let us speak a few words upon this name, which signifieth, being interpreted, Star of the Sea, and suiteth very well the Maiden Mother, who may very meetly be likened unto a star. A star giveth forth her rays without any harm to herself, and the Virgin brought forth her Son without any hurt to her virginity. The light of a star taketh nothing away from the Virginity of Mary. She is that noble star which was to come out of Jacob, whose brightness still sheddeth lustre upon all the earth, whose rays are most brilliant in heaven, and shine even unto hell, lighting up earth midway, and warming souls rather than bodies, fostering good and scaring away evil. She, I say, is a clear and shining star, twinkling with excellencies, and resplendent with example, needfully set to look down upon the surface of this great and wide sea. O thou, whosoever thou art, that knowest thyself to be here not so much walking upon firm ground, as battered to and fro by the gales and storms of this life’s ocean, if thou wouldest not be overwhelmed by the tempest, keep thine eyes fixed upon this star’s clear shining. If the hurricanes of temptation rise against thee, or thou art running upon the rocks of trouble, look to the star, call on Mary. If the waves of pride, or ambition, or slander, or envy toss thee, look to the star, call on Mary. If the billows of anger or avarice, or the enticements of the flesh beat against thy soul’s bark, look to Mary. If the enormity of thy sins trouble thee, if the foulness of thy conscience confound thee, if the dread of judgement appal thee, if thou begin to slip into the deep of despondency, into the pit of despair, think of Mary.

In danger, in difficulty, or in doubt, think on Mary, call on Mary. Let her not be away from thy mouth or from thine heart, and that thou mayest not lack the succour of her prayers, turn not aside from the example of her conversation. If thou follow her, thou wilt never go astray. If thou pray to her, thou wilt never have need to despair. If thou keep her in mind, thou wilt never fall. If she lead thee, thou wilt never be weary. If she help thee, thou wilt reach home safe at the last — and so thou wilt prove in thyself how meetly it is said: And the Virgin’s name was Mary. [II]

The Saints vie with one another in extolling the powers and wonders of the Holy Name of Mary, which they have learnt from their own experience, to be feared by Hell, acknowledged by angels, and glorified by God.

St. Alphonsus Liguori tells us, “Richard of St. Laurence states, ‘There is not such powerful help in any name, nor is there any other name given to men, after that of Jesus, from which so much salvation is poured forth upon men as from the name of Mary.” He continues, “[T]he devout invocation of this sweet and holy name leads to the acquisition of superabundant graces in this life, and a very high degree of glory in the next.”

After the most sacred name of Jesus, the name of Mary is so rich in every good thing that on Earth and in Heaven there is no other from which devout souls receive so much grace, hope, and sweetness. In fine, “thy name, O Mother of God, is filled with divine graces and blessings,” as St. Methodius says. So much so that St. Bonaventure declares “that thy name, O Mary, cannot be pronounced without bringing some grace to him who does so devoutly.” Grant, O Lady, that we may often remember to name thee with love and confidence; for this practice either shows the possession of divine grace or else is a pledge that we shall soon recover it.

On the other hand, Thomas à Kempis affirms “that the devils fear the Queen of heaven to such a degree, that only on hearing her great name pronounced, they fly from him who does so as from a burning fire.” The Blessed Virgin herself revealed to St. Bridget “that there is not on earth a sinner, however devoid he may be of the love of God, from whom the devil is not obliged immediately to fly, if he invokes her holy name with a determination to repent.” On another occasion, she repeated the same thing to the saint, saying “that all the devils venerate and fear her name to such a degree, that on hearing it they immediately loosen the claws with which they hold the soul captive.” Our Blessed Lady also told St. Bridget “that in the same way as the rebel angels fly from sinners who invoke the name of Maria, so also do the good angels approach nearer to just souls who pronounce her name with devotion.”

Consoling, indeed, are the promises of help made by Jesus Christ to those who have devotion to the name of Mary, for one day, in the hearing of St. Bridget, He promised His Most Holy Mother that He would grant three special graces to those who invoke that holy name with confidence: first, that He would grant them perfect sorrow for their sins; secondly, that their crimes should be atoned for; and, thirdly, that He would give them strength to attain perfection, and at length the glory of paradise. And then our Divine Savior added: “For thy words, O My Mother, are so sweet and agreeable to Me, that I cannot deny what thou askest” [III].

Truly, de Maria numquam satis (about Mary, nothing suffices) — we can never praise Her enough!

[I] True Devotion to Mary, Part 1, Chapter 1, Mary’s part in the Incarnation.

[II] Excerpts from the Breviary for the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary (Sept. 12)

[III] St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Holy Name of Mary — The Power of Her Name

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