Four days after celebrating the Birthday of Our Blessed Mother, we have the option of celebrating her Holy Name on September 12. It’s a beautiful idea, and one that deserves our attention.
A name is more than simply a noise we use to designate someone. Down through human history, much importance has been attached to names. Among the Jews of the Old Testament, the name of God was considered so sacred that it was never either pronounced or written, but a synonym for it was used. We bow our heads at the names of Jesus and Mary, recognizing their importance and worthiness of veneration.
Back in the days of exploration and colonization, it was common for an explorer or conquistador from Spain or France or England to come to some part of the new world, land on a hitherto unclaimed area, and claim it in the name of the king of England or Spain or Portugal or the country which he was representing. By doing so, the explorer was asserting that he was the representative—the agent, the instrument—of that ruler, and that he intended to extend the rule of his monarch over the territory he was claiming.
Every time we make the sign of the cross, we indicate our intention to extend the kingdom of God over ourselves, all that we are, all that we have, all that we do. We want to bring all of that into the kingdom of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Then, today we celebrate the name of the Queen Mother of Heaven and earth—the mother of the King of Kings. There are two kinds of political power: the power of dominion, as possessed by a monarch whereby he can do whatever he deems proper for the government of his country, and then there is the power of intercession, whereby some favorite of his can ask for things which he or she can gain, not by the power of dominion, but by the power of request. Our Lord’s first public miracle, the changing of water to wine at Cana, was worked because his mother asked him to do something to provide wine at a wedding reception where the wine had run out and the families would have been deeply embarrassed had something not been done. The divine power of Jesus was brought to operation by the exercise of his mother’s intercession. The Holy Name of Mary is not one of power in her own right, but rather the profound love that Our Divine Lord has for this woman whom he chose and fashioned to be his mother, and whom he gave to us as our mother. How can he say “no” to anything she asks?
In August of 1492, Columbus set sail from Spain on the voyage of discovery that changed the course of human history. His three ships—tiny in comparison with our sailing vessels of today—sailed west into the uncharted reaches of the Atlantic. The flagship was called the Santa Maria—the Holy Mary or Saint Mary. Each night, when the sun went down, the three ships gathered together since it was dangerous to risk losing one another in the primitive navigational systems of the time. All the crew members came up on the decks of the three ships, and there they recited their night prayers, ending with the singing of the Salve, Regina: Hail, Holy Queen. How beautiful it is to think of that ancient and beautiful prayer to the Mother of God ringing out for the first time in that endless expanse of water on the way from the Old World to the New, a voyage which brought her Divine Son to the peoples of the Americas.
Since then, never has a day gone by without people in this hemisphere of ours calling upon the Immaculate Mother of Christ and using her holy name as a means of honoring her divine Son. And please God, never will such a day occur. As long as time will last, the Church founded by Our Divine Lord will last, gathering people into its sanctuary. And as long as the Church will last, there will be deep devotion to Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, and to his blessed mother who says so accurately of herself in sacred scripture: All generations will call me blessed. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.