On September 12th, the Church celebrates the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary. Throughout the year we honor countless saints who have uniquely modeled for us the path to holiness. However, Jesus and Mary are the only two people for whom the Church sets aside a feast just for their name. Each person’s name deeply and intimately reveals something about who they are. If this is true for myself, you, and each of the saints, it is all the more true for Jesus and His Blessed Mother.
Throughout the centuries, Mary has earned countless and various titles based on the places she has appeared and the different characteristics that define her. But before all of these, she was given her first title by the child Jesus: Mom. This wasn’t a title Mary could have given herself; rather it was bestowed on her.
The Father chose Mary to conceive and bear Jesus, and it was in His birth that she became a mother. It was through the Incarnate Lord that Mary’s motherhood was fulfilled and she became “Mom.” For all of the times you have called your own mother’s name, Jesus called Mary “mother,” too. He spoke her name in joy and in sorrow, in petition and in gratitude. He models for us how to live in relationship with His own blessed mother and how to speak her name. However, even with Jesus showing us the way to His mother, it can still be a challenge to have a relationship with Mary. How do we relate to her and live under her maternity? How do we speak to Mary, our spiritual mother?
The Church models so many beautiful devotions in answer to this question. We can pray a morning offering through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, asking her to be with us throughout our day. We can pray the rosary, walking alongside her through Jesus’ life. We can sing a Marian hymn with our nightly prayers, inviting her to watch over us in our rest.
When we speak Mary’s name and call out to her as our spiritual mom, we are fulfilling St. Francis de Sales' words to “run to Mary, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with a perfect confidence.” We can give ourselves to Mary, like Jesus did, and she will in turn bring us closer to God. In the repetition of these Marian prayers and hymns we spiritually speak our mother Mary’s name and ask for her help from the depths of our hearts.
Just like our earthly mothers cherish the little gifts we give and imperfect efforts we make, Mary graciously receives and multiplies everything we call out to her from our heart. Mary doesn’t need us to come to her with perfect devotion, but with an honest desire to grow closer to Jesus through her. Day after day, we can speak her most holy name and call on her assistance with the confidence that she will come to our aid.
As we honor the Most Holy Name of Mary, we pray the Lord will enkindle in us a deeper trust and devotion to His mother. Let us speak Mary’s name with love and devotion, trusting in the power of her intercession and mediation for us. Mama Mary, pray for us!
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