“THE NAME OF MARY A TOWER OF STRENGTH”
The invocation of the Sacred Names of Jesus and Mary, says Thomas a Kempis, is a short prayer, as sweet to the mind and as powerful to protect those who use it as it is easy to remember. Let us therefore take advantage of the beautiful advice given by St. Bernard: “In dangers, in perplexities, in doubtful cases, think of Mary, call on Mary; let her not leave thy lips; let her not depart from thy heart!”
The Blessed Henry Suso, speaking of the sweetness of Mary’s name, says that when he named Mary he felt himself so excited to confidence and inflamed with such love and joy, that between the tears and 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 the soul; and then he would exclaim: “O most sweet name! O Mary, what must thou thyself be, since thy name alone is thus amiable and gracious!”
The enamoured St. Bernard, raising his heart to his good Mother, exclaims with tenderness: “O great! O pious! O thou who art worthy of all praise! O most holy Virgin Mary! Thy name is so sweet and amiable that it cannot be pronounced without inflaming those who do so with love for thee and for God. Thy name only need occur to the mind of thy lovers to move them to love thee more and to console them.” “Thou canst not be named without inflaming; thou canst not be thought of by those who love thee without filling their minds with joy.” “And if riches comfort the poor, because they relieve them in their distress,” says Richard of St. Laurence, “oh, how much more does thy name, O Mary, comfort us than any earthly riches! It comforts us in all the hardships of this life.” “Thy name, O Mary, is far better than riches, because it can better relieve poverty.”
In fine, “thy name, O Mother of God, is filled with Divine graces and blessings,” as St. Methodius says. So much so, that St. Bonaventure declares that “thy name, O Mary, cannot be pronounced without bringing some grace to him who does so devoutly.” The Blessed Raymond Jordano says that “however hardened and diffident a heart may be, the name of this most Blessed Virgin has such efficacy, that if it is only pronounced, that heart will be wonderfully softened.” I shall, however, give his own words: “The power of thy most holy name, O ever-blessed Virgin Mary, is such that it softens the hardness of the human heart in a wonderful manner.” He tells us that it is Mary who leads sinners to the hope of pardon and grace. By thee does the sinner recover the hope of forgiveness and of grace.”
Thy most sweet name, O Mary, according to St. Ambrose, “is a precious ointment, which breathes forth the odour of Divine grace.” The Saint then prays to the Divine Mother, saying; “Let this ointment of salvation enter the inmost recesses of our souls.” That is, grant, O Lady, that we may often remember to name thee with love and confidence; for this practice either tells of the possession of Divine grace, or else is a pledge that we shall soon recover it. “And truly it is so, O Mary; for the remembrance of thy name comforts the afflicted, recalls to the way of salvation those who have erred, and encourages sinners, that they may not abandon themselves to despair.” (Ludolph of Saxony).
Father Pelbart says that “as Jesus Christ by His five Wounds gave a remedy for the evils of the world, so also does Mary, by her most holy name, which is composed of five letters, daily bring pardon to sinners.”
For this reason is the holy name of Mary likened in the Sacred Canticles to oil: Thy name is as oil poured out (Cant. i. 2). On these words Blessed Alan says that her glorious name is compared to oil poured out, because oil heals the sick, sends out a sweet odour, and nourishes flames. Thus also does the name of Mary heal sinners, rejoice hearts, and inflame them with Divine love. Hence Richard of St. Laurence encourages sinners to have recourse to this great name because it alone will suffice to cure them of all their evils; and there is no disorder, however malignant, that does not immediately yield to the power of the name of Mary.
On the other hand Thomas a Kempis affirms that the devils fear the Queen of Heaven to such a degree that only on hearing her great name pronounced they fly from him who does so as from a burning fire. The Blessed Virgin herself revealed to St. Bridget that there is not on earth a sinner, however devoid he may be of the love of God, from whom the devil is not obliged immediately to fly, if he invokes her holy name with a determination to repent. On another occasion she repeated the same thing to the Saint, saying that “all the devils venerate and fear this name to such a degree that on hearing it they immediately loosen the claws with which they hold the soul captive.” Our Blessed Lady also told St. Bridget that in the same way as the rebel angels fly from sinners who invoke the name of Mary, so also do the good Angels approach nearer to just souls who pronounce her name with devotion.
St. Germanus declares that as breathing is a sign of life, so also is the frequent pronunciation of the name of Mary a sign either of the life of Divine grace, or that it will soon return; for this powerful name has it in the virtue of obtaining help and life for him who invokes it devoutly. Addressing the Blessed Virgin, he says: “As breathing is a sign of life in the body, so is the frequent repetition of thy most holy name, O Virgin, by thy servants, not only a sign of life and of strength, but also it procures and nourishes both.”