The Name Mary
When I was a small girl, it was a burden to have the name Mary Ann. I was named after my paternal grandmother and my maternal great-grandmother, and I struggled under the weight of such an adult name.
I preferred the nickname “Mamie” which my dad used or “Mamie Ann” which my Aunt Sally created just for me.
And being called Mary without the Ann? Well, I couldn’t bear it. I would quickly correct people when they called me “Mary.”
Mary was the English language name of the Blessed Mother. It was the name of the young Jewish girl who was chosen before the creation of the world to be the mother of Jesus. It was the name of the pure soul who said, “Yes.”
I knew it, and even as a young girl I felt the chasm between us. She was so holy, and I was so flawed.
In the 1950s, Catholic parishes had a wonderful way to teach children respect and reverence for the Blessed Mother; they celebrated her with May Crowning processions.
I think I had just turned six the first time I was in a procession. The youngest girls wore their beautiful First Communion dresses, and the boys were dressed in their stiff new suits. At my parish, we paraded around and around the church property singing “Hail Holy Queen,” “Immaculate Mary” and “Oh Mary We Crown Thee with Blossoms Today.”
Those May nights were always perfect, and I loved them.
As a young Catholic I prayed many litanies to Mary, which always reminded me that she is the “Mother of Divine Grace,” “Mother most amiable,” “Mother of good courage,” “Cause of our joy,” a “Morning Star” and the “Queen of Peace.”
Over the years I came to know Mary as a mother anxiously searching for her 12-year-old son and finding Him teaching in the temple. I listened to the Gospel story of Mary telling her adult son, “They have no wine,” and then bidding the servers with absolute confidence to “do whatever He tells you.”
As I aged, when I listened to the story of the Passion and Death of Jesus, I found Mary, his truly sorrowful mother, standing there with Him.
I’ve had quite a journey with her, traveling from adulation and awe as a young child to today. Now I am sure of one thing: Mary, the mother of our Savior, is also my faithful friend.
And our mutual name? I have come to realize that it really is a grand old name.
And I’m grateful to have it.