Always By Our Side: Celebrating the Holy Name of Mary

An outdoor statute of the blessed mother holding the infant Jesus
Photo by Jonathan Dick, OSFS on Unsplash

My wife often mentions that our sons are always on her mind. Whether they are taking a nap or with a sitter while we are out on a date-night, our children have a beautiful and powerful attachment to their mother. 

Even science can aid us in viewing the sanctity of motherhood. Years ago, scientists actually discovered that fetal cells remain in the mother even after their child is born. Countless mothers have described the feeling that “my children still feel like they are a part of me” even long after they are born into the world. The fetal cells enter the woman’s body through the placenta, and then can morph into different tissue and live inside of the mother. 

Children always remain a part of their mother. This is true biologically, psychologically, and spiritually. For a mom, there is nothing like having a child. I could perceive this truth on my wedding day when I danced with my mom, and I could see it in my wife’s eyes shortly after both of our boys came into the world. I think this is what I have come to discover about Mary that has brought me to a deeper understanding of her name. 

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September 12 is the feast day of the Holy Name of Mary. The Church began this feast as a way for the faithful to ponder the significance of and intimacy involved with having Mary as our mother. When thinking about the name of Mary, it is helpful to think about how we use the word “mom.” When I was growing up, this word was used an unfathomable amount by my three brothers and me. Looking back, I think we probably took the word for granted. Not because we did not appreciate our mom, although I’m sure there were times where we overlooked her, but more so because we knew that she was always there for us, always at our side. We could always depend on her.

The way that we asked mom for help and depended on her for the daily necessities must have also been the way that Jesus looked at his mother. She was always there. She always prepared his meals and sat down with him. Mary would have rehearsed Scripture with him and cleaned up after him. The way that Jesus called Mary “mom” must have been so profound and loving. 

Now that my sons are almost one year old (Gabriel) and three years old (Benedict) I can see the transformation in how they look to their mom and call her name as well. Gabriel only mutters “mum..mum..mum” here and there, but his eyes follow her around the room wherever she goes. Now that he is crawling, Gabe finds himself following along Joanna’s shadow as she performs the daily tasks of running a house and taking care of a family. 

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I think that Mary’s role as intercessor is sort of like that. I can picture Jesus desiring to stay close to his mother, listening to her every intention as she passes along our prayers to her son. This is another reason why calling on the name of Mary is powerful and transformative. 

My older son Ben is definitely in his mommy-attachment phase. He wants his mom to do everything for him, and favors her to be the one to put him in his crib at night. Benedict has grown into an attachment for his mom because of routine and comfort. Joanna is also, literally, always there for Benedict. Because of this, Ben feels safe when she is around. Maybe this is why Mary could not even fathom leaving Jesus on the cross alone on Good Friday. She knew that her presence meant the world to her Son. Their relationship was on another level because of the endless hours they spent together in Nazareth. Jesus felt safe when she was around.

We can also feel safe knowing that we are a part of Mary. As our Mother, we are always on her mind. She desires to become more and more a part of our everyday lives. 

So, what is your routine like with Mary? Do you pray the Rosary often or have a favorite apparition of the Blessed Mother that you refer to on a consistent basis? Do you think of Mary as a safe haven? Does her name bring comfort to you regardless of your trials and challenges? As we celebrate the Holy Name of Mary, make more time for her. Experience her presence and comfort. Know that she is always listening to her children and that she desires for us to be comforted by having her as our heavenly mom.