Happy Independence Day to you and to our Blessed Mother, Patroness of the United States!
Mother of God, ora pro nobis!
Sometimes, it seems that Our Lady has more names than a telephone book. I’ve used three already!
By the way, if you’re too young to understand that “telephone book” reference, try this: “Sometimes, it seems that Our Lady has more names than Instagram has handles.”
It all started on Calvary, when Jesus told John, “Behold your mother,” declaring her the mother of His brother in the family of God. That was great news for John AND for us, because it means everybody, even a schlep like me—another non-biological brother of Jesus—gets to claim her, too. We all get to claim her!
And man, oh man, have we been staking that claim over the centuries. As a result, Mary is called “Mother of…” and “Our Lady of…” and “Queen of…” a gazillion places and things; she probably has more nicknames than there are in the entire history of baseball.
Still, as open as Blessed Mother seems to be to nicknames, I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for Our Lady of Schleps to catch on.
I couldn’t resist, however, sitting down and trying to work a bunch of Blessed Mother’s names into a song. If you like ukulele’s, check it out. Hear the song or see the lyric video.
Call her what you will
My favorite nickname is “Mystical Rose” (we’re back to Mary, by the way, not baseball; as far as I know, there’s nothing mystical about Pete Rose). “Mystical Rose” sums up all the other names. Whether you trace it to the “rose of Sharon” in the Song of Solomon, to any of the non-divinely-inspired literary and artistic references to Mary as Rosa Mystica, or to the visionary Pierina Gilli who promoted a Rosa Mystica devotion, that title says it all.
I read through a few lists of Mary’s various titles not long ago, and it was great to see the many ways in which people feel indebted to her, or have entrusted themselves to her care. But unless we’re talking “Mother of God,” nothing comes close to “Mystical Rose” (IMHO, btw).
Just as a painter or poet can look at a single rose for hours on end, discovering new contours, shadows and impressions to explore, Our Lady—the Mystical Rose—is blooming with unlimited secrets to share if only we get close enough to discover them.
Just call her
How do we get closer to Mary? Walking with her through Jesus’ life via the Rosary comes highly recommended (by her, in fact). But that type of prayer isn’t for everyone. Another great option is to pray the Angelus. It’s packed with insight into Our Lady and the relationship we can have with her.
Plus, the Angelus is so brief that even the busiest/laziest among us can fit it in during the course of a day. I like to pray it just before saying Grace at lunchtime. That puts me fairly close to the traditional noon hour while giving me very little room to lazy my way out of it. No Angelus, no lunch. That’s the deal.
You might also consider taking your own prayerful stroll through a list of Mary’s various titles and marveling at the litany of gratitude they represent. You’re sure to hear more than a few of them echo in your life.
Don't be a stranger
I like to think I’m close to Mary, but then I see people who feel so at ease with her that they call her “Mama Mary,” as a matter of course, which I think sounds great. I’ve called her that from time to time when I give my Immaculate Medal a quick kiss in the morning but, anytime I’m Officially PrayingTM, I stiffen up and either “Mother” her left and right as if I were on Downton Abbey or “Oh, Blessed Mother” her as if I were working on copy for a new holy card.
And that’s just fine. I won’t go into it here, but I owe Our Lady a lot, so a little extra respect is more than appropriate. And when you come right down to it, she probably isn’t as concerned with what we call her, as long as we call. What mama doesn’t like to hear from her kids?