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Saint Bernard: Holy Name of Mary

September 12th
Second Nocturn of Matins

A homily of St. Bernard, Abbot & Doctor


    "And the Virgin's name was Mary." Let us speak a little about this name, which is said to mean "star of the sea," and which so well befits the Virgin Mother. Rightly is she likened to a star. As a star emits a ray without being dimmed, so the Virgin b rought forth her Son without receiving any injury. The ray takes naught from the brightness of the star, nor the Son from His Mother's virginal integrity. This is the noble star risen out of Jacob, whose ray illumines the whole world, whose splendor shines in the heavens, penetrates the abyss, and, traversing the whole earth, gives warmth rather to souls than to bodies, cherishing virtues, withering vices. Mary is that bright and incomparable star, whom we need to see raised above this vast sea, shini ng by her merits, and giving us light by her example.


    "All of you, who see yourselves amid the tides of the world, tossed by storms and tempests rather than walking on the land, do not turn your eyes away from this shining star, unless you want to be overwhelmed by the hurricane. If temptation storms, or y ou fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star: Call upon Mary! If you are tossed by the waves of pride or ambition, detraction or envy, look to the star, call upon Mary. If anger or avarice or the desires of the flesh dash against the ship o f your soul, turn your eyes to Mary. If troubled by the enormity of your crimes, ashamed of your guilty conscience, terrified by dread of the judgment, you begin to sink into the gulf of sadness or the abyss of despair, think of Mary. In dangers, in ang uish, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let her name be even on your lips, ever in your heart; and the better to obtain the help of her prayers, imitate the example of her life:   "Following her, thou strayest not; invoking her, thou despairest not; thinking of her, thou wanderest not; upheld by her, thou fallest not; shielded by her, thou fearest not; guided by her, thou growest not weary; favored by her, thou reachest the goal. And thus dost thou experience in thyself how good is that saying: 'And the Virgin's name was Mary.'"


    The Church commemorates numerous occasions on which It invoked the name of Mary and received her heavenly protection. During the pontificate of Pope Innocent III, Saint Dominic Guzman established the Order of Preachers to combat the Albigensian heresy that all material things were evil. He trained his priests to live a holy life, to use their minds, and to pray the Rosary. On September 12th 1213, the Christian forces under Simon de Montfort won a decisive victory over the heretics at Muret in souther n France. Likewise, on the first Sunday of October, the Church recalls the victory of the Christian naval forces under Don Juan of Austria against the 300-odd ships of the Moslem Turk, Selim II, in 1571. Again on September 12th 1683, after a forced march begun in Poland on the August 15th feast of the Assumption, John Sobieski turned back the 300,000 Moslem invaders besieging Vienna. And, once again, on August 5th 1716, under the patronage of Mary, Our Lady of the Snows, Prince Eugene claimed her victo ry at Peterwardein; shortly thereafter raising the siege of Corfu and later reclaiming Belgrade. The feast of the Holy Name of Mary was inscribed in the calendar of the Universal Church by Pope Innocent XI "as a perpetual memorial of the great blessing of that signal victory won at Vienna in Austria over the cruel Turkish tyrant who had been grinding down the Christian people."


    Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that Thy Faithful, calling upon the Name of the Virgin Mary and rejoicing in her protection, may, by her motherly intercession, be delivered from the evils of the earth and advance to the eternal happiness of heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.



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