Monday, September 12, 2016

September 12: The Most Holy Name of Mary, III Class

Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Office, we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary.  I truly love this feast, and I look forward to its return each year.  Like the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, it is a feast that is rich in devotion to our Blessed Lady.  It is also steeped in the glorious history of Christendom.  

The feast was announced in the Martyrology during Pretiosa yesterday:
The feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Sovereign Pontiff, Innocent XI, commanded this feast to be celebrated because of the brilliant victory obtained over the Turks at Vienna in Austria by the help of the Blessed Virgin.
The ordinary office is prayed, according to the rubrics, with elements taken from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  At Pretiosa, the reading is from the Gospel of St. Luke:
At that time: the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.  But you O Lord have mercy upon us.
This feast is a reminder that our Lady's patronage extends not just over our Order, but over all Christians, particularly those who are engaged in battle.  That battle can take many forms.  It could be open warfare against the enemies of Holy Mother Church, like the Battle of Vienna, which began on September 11, 1683.  The Holy League forces, under King John Sobieski of Poland, and including imperial forces from the Holy Roman Empire, met the
King John Sobieski at the Battle of Vienna
bloodthirsty Turks under Kara Mustafa Pasha, on the outskirts of Vienna, and won a decisive victory.  On September 12, King John sent word of the victory to Pope Innocent XI…”Venimus, Vidimus, Deus vincit" –(We came, We saw, God conquered), paraphrasing Julius Ceaser.  The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary was proclaimed for the Universal Church by Pope Innocent XI, as an everlasting tribute to Our Lady’s intercession in the victory.  The Christians in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and other areas of the Middle East are under a  brutal assault by the force of Islam once again.  May we remember them in our prayers on this day in particular, and ask our Lady to spread her mantle of protection over them, and destroy the forces of evil who persecute them.

The battle can also take the form of an individuals struggle against sin.  Here too, the invocation of the Most Holy Name of Mary will assist those who are besieged, this time by the devil and his temptations.  On this feast, which celebrates to power of the Holy Name of Mary, Mediatrix of all graces, I am reminded of those beautiful lines from the Homily of St. Bernard of Clairvaux on the name of the Blessed Virgin:
"Oh, whosoever thou art that perceivest thyself during this mortal existence to be rather floating in the treacherous waters, at the mercy of the winds and the waves, than walking secure on the stable earth, turn not away thine eyes from the splendor of this guiding star, unless thou wishest to be submerged by the tempest!  When the storms of temptation burst upon thee, when thou seest thyself driven upon the rocks of tribulation, look up a the star, call upon Mary.  When buffeted by the billows of pride, or ambition, or hatred, or jealousy, look up at the star, call upon Mary.  Should anger or avarice, or carnal desires violently assail the little vessel of thy soul, look up at the star, call upon Mary.  If troubled on account of the heinousness of thy sins, confounded at the filthy state of thy conscience, and terrified at the thought of the awful judgment to come, thou art  beginning to sink into the bottomless gulf of sadness and to be absorbed in the abyss of despair, oh, then think of Mary.  In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary.  Let not her name depart from thy lips, never suffer it to leave thy heart."  St. Bernard, "Second Sermon on the Glories of the Virgin Mother".
Let us redouble our devotions to Our Lady.  Let us, in confidence, turn to her in prayer, and call upon her name to assist us in our trials, our tribulations, our sufferings, our contradictions, our misery, our despair.  Let us call upon her name to assist Christians throughout the world, who are being openly persecuted by Muslims and by iniquitous governments who seek to silence them and drive the teachings of Christ from the public square.

O God, you willed that your glorious mother should be called Mary, grant, we beseech you, that whoever calls upon the beloved name of Mary, may experience the unfailing help of her blessing.  For you live and reign...