Of the Sweetness of the Name of Mary During Life.
The great name of Mary, which was given to the Divine Mother, did not come to her from her parents, nor was it given to her by the mind or will of man, as is the case with all other names that are imposed in this world; but it came from heaven, and was given her by a Divine ordinance. This is attested by St. Jerome, St. Epiphanius, St. Antoninus, and others. ‘The name of Mary came from the treasury of the Divinity,’ says St. Peter Damian. Ah! yes, O Mary, it was from that treasury that your high and admirable name came forth; for the most Blessed Trinity, says Richard of St. Lawrence, bestowed on you a name above every other name after that of your Son, and ennobled it with such majesty and power, that He willed that all heaven, earth, and hell, on only hearing it, should fall down and venerate it; but I will give the author's own words: ‘The whole Trinity, O Mary, gave you a name, after that of your Son, above every other name, that in your name every knee should bow, of things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.’ But amongst the other privileges of the name of Mary, and which were given to it by God, we will now examine that of the peculiar sweetness found in it by the servants of this most holy Lady.
And in the first place, the holy anchorite Honorius used to say, that ‘this name of Mary is filled with every sweetness and Divine savor,’ so much so that the glorious St. Anthony of Padua found the same sweetness in the name of Mary that St. Bernard found in that of Jesus. ‘Name of Jesus!’ exclaimed the one. ‘O name of Mary!’ replied the other; ‘joy in the heart, honey in the mouth, melody to the ear of her devout clients.’ It is narrated in the life of the Ven. Father Juvenal Ancina, bishop of Saluzzo, that in pronouncing the name of Mary he tasted so great and sensible a sweetness, that, after doing so, he licked his lips. We read also, that a lady at Cologne told the Bishop Massilius, that as often as she uttered the name of Mary, she experienced a taste far sweeter than honey. The bishop imitated her, and experienced the same thing.
But here I do not intend to speak of that sensible sweetness, for it is not granted to all; I speak of that salutary sweetness of consolation, of love, of joy, of confidence, of strength, which the name of Mary ordinarily brings to those who pronounce it with devotion. The Abbot Francone, speaking on this subject, says, ‘there is no other name, after that of the Son, in heaven or on earth, whence pious minds derive so much grace, hope, and sweetness.’ 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. ‘For,’ he continues, ‘there is something so admirable, sweet, and divine in this name of Mary, that when it meets with friendly hearts it breathes into them an odor of delightful sweetness.’ And he adds, in conclusion, ‘that the wonder of this great name is, that if heard by the lovers of Mary a thousand times, it is always heard again with renewed pleasure, for they always experience the same sweetness each time it is pronounced.’
The Blessed Henry Suso, also speaking of this sweetness, says, ‘that when he named Mary, he felt himself so excited to confidence and inflamed with such love and joy, that between the tears of joy, with which he pronounced the beloved name, he desired that his heart might leave his breast; for he declared that this most sweet name was like a honeycomb dissolving in the inmost recess of his soul:’ and then he would exclaim: ‘O most sweet name! O Mary, what must you yourself be, since your name alone is thus amiable and gracious!’
‘And if riches comfort the poor, because they relieve them in their distress, O how much more does your name, O Mary,’ says Richard of St. Lawrence, ‘comfort us than any earthly riches? It comforts us in the anguishes of this life.’ ‘Your name, O Mary, is far better than riches, because it can better relieve poverty.’ In fine, ‘Your name, O Mother of God, is filled with Divine graces and blessings,’ as St. Methodius says. So much so, that St. Bonaventure declares, ‘that your name, O Mary, cannot be pronounced without bringing some grace to him who does so devoutly.’
Let us, therefore, always take advantage of the beautiful advice given us by St. Bernard in these words: ‘In dangers, in perplexities, in doubtful cases, think of Mary, call on Mary; let her not leave your lips; let her not depart from your heart.’ In every danger of forfeiting Divine grace, we should think of Mary, and invoke her name, together with that of Jesus; for these two names always go together. O, then, never let us permit these two most sweet names to leave our hearts, or be off our lips; for they will give us strength not only not to yield, but to conquer all our temptations. 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, strength to attain perfection, and at length the glory of paradise.
A woman came to a house of our little congregation in this kingdom to let one of the fathers know that her husband had not been to confession for many years, and the poor creature could no longer tell by what means to bring him to his duty; for if she named confession to him he beat her. The father told her to give him a picture of Mary Immaculate. In the evening the woman once more begged her husband to go to confession; but as he as usual turned a deaf ear to her entreaties, she gave him the picture. Behold! he had scarcely received it, when he said, ‘Well, when will you take me to confession, for I am willing to go? The wife, on seeing this instantaneous change, began to weep for joy. In the morning he really came to our church, and when the father asked him how long it was since he had been to confession, he answered twenty-eight years. The father again asked him what had induced him to come that morning: ‘Father,’ he replied, ‘I was obstinate, but last night my wife gave me a picture of our Blessed lady, and in the same moment I felt my heart changed, so much so, that during the whole night every moment seemed a thousand years, so great was my desire to go to confession,’ He then confessed his sins with great contrition, changed his life, and continued for a long time to go frequently to confession to the same father.
O great Mother of God and my Mother Mary, it is true that I am unworthy to name thee; but thou, who lovest me and desirest my salvation, must, notwithstanding the impurity of my tongue, grant that I may always invoke thy most powerful name in my aid, for thy name is the succor of the living, and the salvation of the dying. Ah, most pure Mary, most sweet Mary, grant that from henceforth thy name may be the breath of my life. O Lady, delay not to help me when I invoke thee, for in all the temptations which assail me, and in all my wants, I will never cease calling upon thee, and repeating again and again, Mary, Mary. Ah, Mary, most amiable Mary, with what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence, what tenderness, is my soul penetrated in only naming, in only thinking of thee. I thank my Lord and God, who for my good, has given thee a name so sweet and deserving of love, and at the same time so powerful.
But, my sovereign Lady, I am not satisfied with only naming thee, I wish to name thee with love: I desire that my love may every hour remind me to call on thee, so that I may be able to exclaim with St. Bonaventure, ‘O, name of the Mother of God, thou art my love.’
In every need, but most especially when tempted to sin, call on the names of Jesus and Mary.