We recently celebrated the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary. The seed of this feast day was planted in sixteenth-century Spain, and was extended to the universal church in 1683 by Pope Innocent XI, in honor of Sobieski’s victory over the Turks in the siege of Vienna.
The Church teaches that, ”This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she loyally gave at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation . . . . Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 969)
But today, and likely for countless days ahead, I’ll be calling on Mary’s name, not only for it’s beauty and holiness, but also because there are so many people in my life right now that desperately need her loving, motherly care, and her powerful intercession.
There are a number of people in my life with cancer of various types and at various stages, one in particular grieves me, as her prognosis is very bleak at the moment – a mother with two small children. For these, I invoke Mary’s holy name and plead her intercession.
There are a number of families in my life who are struggling, struggling, because the father is out of work and can’t find a job that can support them. If you’re tempted to believe the statistics thrown out by the current administration, please don’t. The poverty rate in the United States is now 15 percent and the unemployment rate is 19 percent. Published figures don’t include the number of people who lost hope and quit searching or those who’ve been forced to take menial, low paying jobs because they can’t find anything else. For these, I invoke Mary’s holy name and plead her intercession.
There are young adults in my life – once pure, faithful youth – turning away from the Church, throwing to the wind her doctrines and traditions – and submersing themselves in a sea of sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, selfishness, and dark relativism, and my heart breaks. For these, I invoke Mary’s holy name and plead her intercession.
When I look around me, I see hungry, hungry souls searching for the Truth, without their really understanding what it is they are looking for. Then I see workers slaving in the vineyard, being crushed by the workload, unable to reach out to all those who need them, and I worry for them, for their health and well-being. For these, I invoke Mary’s holy name and plead her intercession.
I look around my neighborhood and I see families in distress for reasons other than economic duress. Dysfunction, relationship discord, abandonment, emotional outbreaks – times are tough, and everyone is feeling the impact. For these, I invoke Mary’s holy name and plead her intercession.
There are babies in my life who were born with serious anomalies requiring immediate care just to survive and who will need life-long care and medical procedures to sustain them. I watch their parent’s pinched, weary faces and wonder what I could possibly do to ease their burden. For these, I invoke Mary’s holy name and plead her intercession.
If it sounds like I’m a bit down right now, well, I am. It’s hard for me to see others suffer and to be unable to find the way to restore their joy. The only good thing about getting older, though, is that I’ve long since stopped wondering “why?” Now, I merely wonder, “how?” How will God work these things out? I hope, I pray, that it is a sign of burgeoning spiritual maturity.
Let me share a secret with you. It’s the prayer that is my favorite and that I most frequently pray and that lately, I find myself chanting like a mantra throughout my days. I’ll bet it’s not any that you would expect – not the Hail Mary, not the Our Father, not my Marian consecration, not even the Rosary, although I pray all of those frequently daily. No, it’s a simple, unscripted prayer that came to me spontaneously the day years ago when my husband lost his job. Here it is: “Mary, we have no wine.” It became my pathetic plea as we tried to figure out what to do next. Then, it became my plea in other tough spots and soon I was using it for the tough spots of others. “Mary, they have no wine.”
Mary saw that the wedding couple in Cana had run out of wine – a great embarrassment in that time and culture! She knew that her Son had the power to help them, and, I believe, she also knew that he couldn’t deny her request out of love for her and for God’s children. I also suspect that Mary’s intuition told her that it was time for our Lord to begin his public ministry – mothers always know these things. And so, Mary simply shared her observation with Jesus, confident that he would perform the necessary miracle to solve the problem. He changed the water into wine.
At Mary’s request, our Lord can and will change any water into wine. Perhaps it won’t be the exact type of wine we want – perhaps it will be a Blush rather than a Cabernet Savingnon – but it will be wine, and it will solve the problem according to God’s magnificent and perfect plan.
We don’t need to know the “why,” we merely need to know the “how.” Mary, we have no wine.