Thursday, February 13, 2014

Fr. Antonio Royo Marin's Commentary on the Hail Mary, pt. 2: "Mary"


This word—Mary—figures in the Gospel text of the Annunciation, but it is not from the mouth of the angel (cf. Lk. 1:27). The Church has included it in the salutation because the angel in fact addressed its greeting to Mary.

Mary! "The most beautiful music which could be formed in [four] letters" (Pemán) [translator's note: four letters in English; five in Spanish: "María"]. It is a most sweet word, the most tender and endearing of a Christian enamored by his Mother: "And the name of the virgin was Mary" (Lk. 1:27). In the brief biography of the Virgin that was included at the beginning of this work, we indicated some of the many meanings which are attributed to the word "Mary" by philologists. Its most probable meaning is that of Lady, which can also signify Beautiful Woman, from the Hebrew root mará. And how we should desire it to have been such—the beauty and majesty of Mary always wins us over, even to the point of causing us to fall into ecstasy, which has been given to some who contemplated her heavenly qualities in this life (St. Bernadette of Lourdes, the shepherds of Fatima...) and shall constitute for us all one of the greatest accidental joys of eternal beatitude.

The eloquence and fervor of St. Bernard come from the summits of his contemplating the sweetness and beauty of the name of Mary. He commented on the significance of the Star of the sea—which is one of the many meanings attributed to the name of Mary—, writing in the inimitable style of the Mellifluous Doctor (Homily 2 on the Virgin[; cf. Second Nocturn of Matins for September 12]):
The evangelist says at the end of the verse: And the virgin's name was Mary. Let us speak a few words upon this name, which signifies Star of the Sea and very well suits the Virgin Mary, who may very appropriately be likened unto a star. A star gives forth her rays without any harm to herself, and the Virgin brought forth her Son without any harm to her virginity. The light of a star takes nothing away from the star itself, and the birth of Mary's offspring took nothing away from the integrity of her virginity. She is that noble star which was to come out of Jacob (cf. Nm. 24:17), whose rays illumine all the earth, whose splendor is most brilliant in heaven and penetrates even unto the abyss of hell, lighting up earth midway and warming souls rather than bodies, strengthening virtues and destroying vices. She, I repeat, is a clear and singular star, brilliant in merits, resplendent in example, needfully set to look down upon the surface of this great and spacious sea.
Oh! Whoever who may be battered by the frequent storms of this life's ocean: keep your eyes fixed upon this star's clear resplendence if you would not be overwhelmed by the tempest. If the hurricanes of temptation rise against you, or if you are running upon the reefs of trouble, look to the star, call on Mary. If the waves of pride, of ambition, of slander, or of envy toss you about, look to the star, call on Mary. If the billows of anger, of avarice, or of the enticements of the flesh beat violently against the little boat of your soul, look to Mary. If the memory of the enormity of your sins troubles you, if the foulness of your conscience confounds you, if the horror of judgment dreads you, and if you begin to slip into the soil of depression, into the abyss of desperation, think of Mary
In dangers, in difficulties, in doubts, think on Mary, invoke Mary. Let her not be apart from your mouth, let her not be far from your heart, and so that you may possess the support of her prayers, do not turn away from the example of her virtue. If you follow her, you will not go astray. If you pray to her, you will not lose hope. If you think of her, you will not perish. If she holds you in her hands, you will not fall. If she protects you, you will not be afraid. If she guides you, you will not grow weary. If she helps you, you will easily come to the door of your home safe and so will you understand in yourself why with reason it is said: And the virgin's name was Mary.
Providing an echo of the sublime thoughts of St. Bernard, the author we previously cited also writes (Cf. Barcon, pp. 91-92):
Mary signifies Star of the sea. Just as a star guides sailors to port, so does Mary guide all men to heaven, to the light of God by means of her intercession.
Just as a star gives a breath of air and hope through the gloom, so Mary gives strength to the soul in the midst of spiritual perils. 
Just as a star consoles in the midst of the tempest, so Mary, in the midst of spiritual torments, cheers and comforts us. 
Just as a star stands in the heights and can be seen by all, so Mary has been given a preferential place in our churches, our shrines and sanctuaries, and on the tops of hills and mountains. 
The Christian people express this notion of consideration towards Mary as Star of the sea when it generously ascribes to her these titles: Virgin of the Star, Virgin Guide, Virgin of Aid, of Refuge, of Hope, of Consolation, of the Helpless, of Perpetual Sorrow... 
She is star of the sea because this life is a sea far more dangerous than other seas. In the sea are gales of wind, storms of waves, and the hidden dangers of the reef. In the sea of life there are demonic temptations, temptations from other men, and temptations from our passions. 
The Virgin Mary is our Star of the sea, which dissipates the clouds of deceit and error by which the devil seduces us, the persecutions and evil example of men and the inclinations and clever seductions of our affections and passions. 
For that reason, we ought frequently to have the name of Mary on our lips and in our hearts. 
Mary signifies Lady. Lady of the angels, of men, and of grace. Lady of her Son, who is Lady of the Lord of lords. Lady, who is mistress and queen of heaven and of earth, to whom all the powers of hell are subject.
The dispenser of all graces, and therefore to whom we ought to go in life, in death, in prosperity, and in adversity. 
Oh my Lady! Oh my mother! I offer all of myself to you!  
Mary signifies bitter sea: bitter sea because of the immensity of her pains during the passion of her Son; for the sorrow of her tears in losing her Child Jesus; for the ingratitude of sinners; for sorrow because of their condemnation. 
Mary, Mother of grace, Mother of mercy, defend us from the enemy. 

Source: Fr. Antonio Royo Marín, La Virgen María, trans. by R. Grablin (Madrid, Spain: BAC, 1996), 444-447. 

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