Why Are There So Many Names and Titles For Mary?
Imagine holding a diamond and rotating it between your fingers so you can examine its overall shape, its facets and its brilliant display of light... Being full of grace, we can say that Mary radiates brilliance like a diamond. And while only a rough comparison, we can also compare her names to the facets of a diamond.
The Woman in the Bible whose seed is destined for mortal combat with the serpent (Gn 3:15).
KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - It may seem unnecessary and confusing, but each one of her names sheds more light on her true identity and helps us to know her and better appreciate her. In order to illuminate this point, perhaps we can use a diamond as a comparison.
Imagine holding a diamond and rotating it between your fingers so you can examine its overall shape, its facets and its brilliant display of light. The facets are the angular cuts on the surface of a diamond, and they are responsible for the reflection of light within it. The brilliance of a diamond is directly related to the number and angle of these facets.
Being full of grace, we can say that Mary radiates brilliance like a diamond. And while only a rough comparison, we can also compare her names to the facets of a diamond. Of course, her many names do not cause her brilliance, but they do help us see her brilliance. Perhaps we can experience this if we take a brief look at some of her names.
Mary is the Woman mentioned in the beginning of the Bible whose seed will be in mortal combat with the serpent (Gn 3:15). And she is the Woman mentioned at the end of the Bible who is with child, clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head (Rev12:1), the Ark of the Covenant (Rev 11:19). She is also the Daughter of Zion, the Jewish maiden who remained faithful to the Old Testament Covenant and helps usher in the new and eternal Covenant.
The most fundamental and best known name for Mary is Mother of God, that is, Mother of Jesus, the God-man, the King and Redeemer of the world. This title shows us that she holds a singular relationship to God which is unique among all other creatures. To understand this relationship, one of the things we need to recall is that her motherhood is of a spiritual nature as well as a physical nature. Her other names and titles flow from these fundamental facts.
For instance, Mary's relationship to Jesus and his role as king, introduces us to her title of Queen Mother. According to a tradition of the Davidic kings, their mothers became queens of the Kingdom. As such, they had access to the king and were able to intercede for the people of Israel. Thus, Mary is our Advocate. It was Mary who interceded for the couple at the Wedding of Cana (Jn 2:1-10), prompting Jesus to perform his first known miracle and begin his public ministry.
Due to Jesus' role as redeemer and Mary's unity with his work, she has received the name of Co-redemptrix. By God's grace, she gave us our Redeemer in the flesh at the Annunciation by freely giving her "yes" (Lk 1:38). At the Presentation, Simeon prophesied that Mary would suffer in union with her son, that a sword would pierce her heart (Lk 2:25). And at Calvary, Mary offered her Son to the Heavenly Father in perfect obedience to His will as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Since Jesus is the source and author of all grace and Mary, freely cooperating with God's plan, gave Jesus to the world and uniquely participated in the acquisition of the graces he won for us, she also participates in the distribution of these graces in a wholly unique way. This means that all of the graces we receive come through Mary. For these reasons, she is also called the Mediatrix of All Graces. Thus, in a very real sense, Mary is truly "full of grace" (Lk 1:28) and far more brilliant than any other created being.
Yet, Mary is not distant. She is also our Mother. As the fullness of grace made it possible for Mary to bring the One who is life itself into the world, the fullness of grace also makes it possible for Mary to help bring us to eternal life. In other words, as the Mother of God, Mary gave birth to both the physical body of Jesus and his Mystical Body; as our spiritual mother and through her role as Mediatrix of All Graces, she is able to give birth, nourish and form us in the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, such that we too radiate Christ's light.
Mary has a multitude of names, and each one sheds more light on her identity. Although we have not looked at many examples, the ones we have looked at are bursting with light and, like the facets of a diamond, reflect her brilliance; so that we can see who she truly is and better appreciate her.
Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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