Today is the feast of the Holy Name of Mary and commemorates the victory of the Christian forces over the Ottoman Empire at Vienna on September 12, 1683. Many believe that the 9/11 hijackers chose that date because of this historical event. The Battle of Vienna began on September 11 and ended on September 12.
The following is a reflection on the Name of Mary that I wrote some years ago:
The Holy Name of Mary is invoked for the same reason as that of Jesus. In a unique way Mary shares in the royal dignity and power of Jesus Christ. The Name of Mary like the Name of Jesus is a proclamation of the presence of God and His kingdom. Other reasons for the power and sweetness of the Name of Mary flow from this one.
St. Paul says: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:10-11). These words are written in the context of St. Paul’s exhortation that we should have that mind be in us, which was also in Christ Jesus (v.5). He goes onto talk about the humility and obedience of Christ, His self-emptying in the form a slave, His death upon the cross by which He merits a name which is above all names (v. 9).
Jesus humbles Himself and becomes obedient, in the first place, by emptying Himself into the womb of Mary (cf., v. 7). If He is exalted through humility, it is first of all because he becomes the child of Mary. Likewise His obedience unto death is accomplished in the company of Mary, the Sorrowful Mother who stands with Him co-crucified through the sword of sorrow that opens Her Immaculate Heart (v. 8).
Mary is therefore exalted with Christ in humility and sacrificial obedience. Every knee must bend, and all hell trembles at the sound of Her Name. Through Her Name, we invoke the power of God.
St. Maximilian says:
Try to take refuge with Mary as a little child with its best-beloved Mother. ‘Invoke’ her Holy Name with the heart in the difficulties of life, in darkness and weakness of spirit and you will soon be convinced what Mary can do – and Who her Son Jesus Christ is.
Here the Saint shows how the name of Mary reveals Her union with Her Son, and how by invoking Her presence with Her Name we force the darkness to flee, how Her power is invincible.
So then we greet each other with “Ave Maria” in order to invoke the presence of the Immaculate in the midst of those who gather in Her Name. We also recognize Her presence in those who in Her name greet us. We bless each other in Her Name, beseeching Her to bestow peace upon all who hear the sweet sound of “Mary.” St. Maximilian says: “O what peace the holy name of Mary gives.”
At the Annunciation the angel Gabriel greeted Mary with the words Ave, gratia plena, Hail, full of grace, as though Full of Grace were Her name. And indeed it is. It is the name God gave to Mary. She is the one who is already filled with God’s grace, even before the presence of Jesus in Her womb. In a real sense Mary becomes the Mother of Jesus, precisely because She is full of grace. In the Angelic Salutation we shorten, and you might say, sweeten the greeting to Ave Maria, Hail Mary. Thereby, like St. Gabriel, we acknowledge Her holiness and invoke it and Her motherly presence upon all we meet.