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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Most Holy Name of Mary, September 12

Otherwise entitled "What's In a Name?"

Today is the Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary. See Women for Faith and Family for the readings and prayers of the day. In the Jewish tradition of naming the child 8 days after birth, this feast was established. The observance of the feast was moved to September 12, only four days after Mary's birthday. Crescents and coffee are traditional foods for this day.

The corresponding feastday to the naming of Mary is the Optional Memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus on January 3. Both of these feasts are wonderful opportunities to discuss the sacredness of the names of Jesus and Mary and also the importance and significance of our own Baptismal name and patron saints.

For Reading and Discussion, Young Mary of Nazareth by Marianna Mayer, the same book we used for the Birth of Mary. Retelling the stories of the naming of Jesus (Annunciation, Angel in the Dream to Joseph, Presentation in the Temple), the naming of John the Baptist ("His name is John") would be wonderful to include in discussion. I'd like to include how the Jewish customs of birth, naming the child, etc. were done in Jesus' and Mary's time.

Each person's name is his identity, significant, and the one that he will carry throughout eternity. The name of the Messiah was even more important. Catholic Encyclopedia talks about the significance of Jesus' name, with the Gospel quotes, and also from Paul: "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Phil 2:10). The name of Mary is also holy and should be spoken reverently.

Two prayers to recite today:
The Divine Praises (instituted because of the blasphemies taken against the holy names of Jesus and Mary).
Litany of the Holy Name of Mary

From St. Bernard of Clairvaux I found two quotes to use for meditation, copywork and/or memorization:

In the time of danger, of difficulty, of uncertainty, think upon Mary, call upon Mary. Do not let her name depart out of your mouth or out of your heart.

May the lovely name of our Lord Jesus Christ and of His most blessed Mother be blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

Part of our stories today will include how we named our son. Children love hearing the stories of their birthday. For my son's birth we had to have c-section because of some high risk factors. We didn't know his gender until he was born. We had tossed names around, but nothing was firm. In that cold operating room our son was held up, a miraculous wonder to our eyes! When my husband saw him tears came to his eyes. That was the moment he declared what the name would be.

Then we will talk about WHY we chose his name. Was it a family name? Who are his patron saints? When are the feastdays for his name? And then discuss how his name is spoken at his Baptism. He loves to hear the story of the Baptismal rite, from how little he was, what he wore, his godparents, the candle, the priest and all the actions of the ritual. In future years I think I'll take out his birth certificate and his baptismal certificate, and also pictures to remember the day we officially named him.

The choosing of a Christian name is important, apparent from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:


2156 The sacrament of Baptism is conferred "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."85 In Baptism, the Lord's name sanctifies man, and the Christian receives his name in the Church. This can be the name of a saint, that is, of a disciple who has lived a life of exemplary fidelity to the Lord. The patron saint provides a model of charity; we are assured of his intercession. The "baptismal name" can also express a Christian mystery or Christian virtue. "Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to see that a name is not given which is foreign to Christian sentiment."

2157 The Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the Sign of the Cross: "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen." The baptized person dedicates the day to the glory of God and calls on the Savior's grace which lets him act in the Spirit as a child of the Father. The sign of the cross strengthens us in temptations and difficulties.

2158 God calls each one by name. Everyone's name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it.

2159 The name one receives is a name for eternity. In the kingdom, the mysterious and unique character of each person marked with God's name will shine forth in splendor. "To him who conquers . . . I will give a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it." "Then I looked, and Lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads."

2165 In Baptism, the Christian receives his name in the Church. Parents, godparents, and the pastor are to see that he be given a Christian name. The patron saint provides a model of charity and the assurance of his prayer.

If we have time, we'll do some coloring of the names of Mary and Jesus. I also want to spell out the words with our magnetic letters and write it on the chalkboard, as I think these names should definitely be sight words for my son. Perhaps by January 3rd I'll have my moveable alphabet and sandpaper letters to incorporate these names into more of the senses. But other ways I'm thinking is making roll out cookie dough and cut out the letters, or just some kind of play dough and do the same.

For further reading about Baptismal names, namedays, and patron saints, see the following:


Baptismal Names

Patron Saints and Namedays

Online text for My Nameday--Come for Dessert by Helen McLoughlin, an entire book dedicated to ideas on celebrating Namedays.

ADDENDUM: I need to give some caveats on my recommendation of Young Mary of Nazareth by Marianna Mayer. Not everything in the book is factual about Mary's life. The only things that we need to believe are what is told in the Gospels and taught by the Church. Ann and Joachim's lives and some of Mary's life have been pieced together by stories passed down through generations. It is not an element of faith to believe that Joseph was old and a widower. Marianna Mayers pieces together different stories and legends to create her book. You will find her bibliography and her introduction at the beginning explains her method.

And for the record, I don't believe that Joseph was a widower with sons, I believe he was in his 30s. I seriously doubt that Ann and Joachim would bring Mary at age 3 to the Temple and leave her there. Still trying to figure that one out.