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On 12th September, there is a liturgical feast in the Catholic Church dedicated to the Holy Name of Mary. It is a feast day promulgated and extended to the entire Church by Pope Innocent XI in 1683. It reminds us that pronouncing, invoking, singing, celebrating the name of Mary does us immense good.

To invoke the name of Mary is to evoke the masterpiece of the Father; it is to exalt the first fruit of the Son's sacrifice, it is to admire the most beautiful temple of the Spirit.

Mary is the name that recalls the most transparent reflection of God's glory, the most exalted point of creation, the blessed among all women, the Mother of Jesus who was given to us by Him as our Mother. As the Collect prayer of the Mass dedicated to the holy name of Mary says, every Christian who utters Mary's name with a filial heart will not fail to "experience the power and sweetness of her name".

The name of Mary is a name that edifies and purifies: it is the name of the All-holy, the All-beautiful, the name that inspires chastity and purity, gentleness and beauty, integrity and holiness at the mere utterance of it, a name that educates not only to silence and contemplation, but also to intimacy and communion of love. To pronounce Mary's name is to enter the sphere of God, just as naming a cathedral after Our Lord - as J. Guitton observes - leads to exalting the One who is present in it, Jesus Christ our Lord: "this is the role Our Lady plays in the work of the Catholic Church: to be an atmosphere, a fluid, a creative and hidden energy".

Mary's name is also a name that unites: Already as a woman, Mary is oriented to contain, welcome, gather, unite, as Mother of God she unites heaven and earth, and as Mother of the Church and of all men, she is honoured in different ways in all religions. One cannot underestimate this typically her maternal function: there are so many divisions, in family ties and in social ones, between nations and between religions, that one would not want to do without that mysterious efficacy that God has bestowed on Mary in the order of dialogue, welcome, mercy.

Sweetest name

It is precisely in Jesus' ears that the name of Mary resounded in the sweetest way! And it was first and foremost on Jesus' lips that Mary was affectionately called 'mother'! Looking at Jesus' Nazarene experience, one learns to invoke Mary's name and to call her 'mother' with a child's heart.

At a time when attempts are being made to deny or surrogate the figure of the mother, the elementary fact must be forcefully recalled - wonderful where it is there, tragic where it is lacking - that without a mother there is in every child a vital failure and a deficit of hope that marks an entire existence, a background of indecision and despair that painfully accompanies every action of life and every season of life. Instead, to feel oneself embraced and caressed, looked at and called by name by one's mother is the experience that lies at the root of one's personality and singularity, and that nourishes all trust in oneself, in others and in God. Being able to call one's mother, to be certain of her listening and of her attention, of her affection and her 'personal' care is the fundamental inheritance that allows one to exist in a truly human and personal manner. If the maternal experience is already related to hope, Marian devotion is thus to the highest degree: as St. Louis Grignion de Montfort says, Mary was God's Paradise, she is in Paradise with God, from Paradise she looks at us and in Paradise she waits for us.

The maternal imprint of hope is so decisive, that even the Son of God, in his humanity, had the same experience as we have: that of calling Mary 'mother' and of finding in this name the sweetest reality on earth, the one that most of all recalls God's paternity in heaven. That is why it is easy and spontaneous for Christians, because of their intimate union with Christ, to feel Mary as mother and to call her affectionately mother. God's paternity and Mary's maternity belong intimately to God's providential plan. Montfort explains it simply and effectively: "just as in the natural and physical generation there is a father and a mother, so in the supernatural and spiritual generation there is a father who is God and a mother who is Mary. All true and predestined children of God have God for a father and Mary for a mother; and whoever does not have Mary for a mother does not have God for a father' (Treatise on True Devotion, 30). This was already expressed by St. Cyprian in the relationship between the paternity of God and the motherhood of the Church: “he cannot have God for a father who does not have the Church for a mother”.

Mary, shining star

The domestic experience that Jesus had in Nazareth was so decisive for his existence among us, that he wanted to give it as a gift and recommend it to all of us. He knows that without Mary's motherhood, our spiritual life, with all its trials, ultimately does not hold up. If St. Bernard sang "look to the star, invoke Mary", it is because in Mary's name, we find the best support for hope, which is certainly a theological virtue, and therefore a gift from God, but which in the face of inner obstacles, the remorse of sin, the turmoil and fears of the world, the bewilderment and confusion of the heart, needs a sure support so as not to go astray.

In the name of Mary, hope is restored, confidence is renewed, discouragements are overcome, and one can always begin anew: "by following her," continues St. Bernard, "you cannot go astray, by praying to her, you cannot despair. If she supports you, you will not fall, if she protects you, you will not give in to fear, if she is favourable to you. you will reach your goal'. Truly, as Pope Paul VI said, there is no authentic Christian who is not Marian. Because, of course, one cannot love Jesus if one refuses or undervalues the most beautiful gift that Jesus, after himself, wanted to leave us for our salvation and joy!

Call her by name!

The liturgy rightly says that in the Church, along with the name of Jesus, it is necessary that "the name of Mary also resounds on the lips of the faithful", because "the Christian people look to her as a shining star, they invoke her as Mother and in dangers they turn to her as a safe refuge" (Pref. Holy Name of Mary). In concrete terms, it is important to call Mary by her name, to overcome resistance and hesitancy, pride and human respect, cultural fashions and theological objections, and not to be afraid to call her 'mother', to invoke her in every need, to ask the Spirit through her, to place all trust in her to be heard and fulfilled, just like a child who finds shelter in its mother's arms.

And then one must be convinced to ask for every grace in her name. Montfort, and behind him a host of saints like Don Bosco, ensures that in heaven, Mary has maintained and increased her ‘maternal rights’ towards Jesus. And so, every prayer that passes through the confident invocation of her Name is destined to certain success. Montfort, referring to the teachings of St. Bernard, St. Bernardine and St. Bonaventure, explains precisely that, without prejudice to God's transcendence and the superiority of the Son, Mary's maternal function confers on her an unparalleled power of intercession, which must be thought of in affective, maternal-filial terms. Courageously expressing himself, he says: “If everything in heaven and on earth and God Himself is subject to Mary, it must be understood that the authority conferred on her by God is so great that it appears that she has the same power as God and that prayers and requests are so effective with God that they always count as commands with His Majesty, who never resists the prayer of His beloved mother, and because she is always humble and conforms to His will” (Treatise, 27)

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