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Reflecting Mary’s Nativity & Namesake

The Birthday of Mary: September 8th

The Nativity of Mary, Marymas, is often underrated by the everyday Catholic. Did you know it is one of the few feasts celebrated on the same date for both Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox? What a day of unity and great joy within the Church! We ponder the mystery of Mary’s birth on September 8, nine months after the December 8 celebration of her Immaculate Conception as the child of Saints Joachim and Anne. This feast day is one of great hope, as Tradition holds that Joachim and Ann struggled with infertility and miraculously conceived Mary after prayer and fasting similar to the story of Abraham and Sarah.

God is faithful in fulfilling the longings and desires of our heart, so let us be confident as “Andrew of Crete calls this day a solemnity of entrance, a feast of beginning, whose end is the union of the Word with our flesh; a virginal feast, full of joy and confidence for all…It is the beginning of salvation, the origin of every feast says St. Peter Damian” (Guaranger, Vol. 14 “Time After Pentecost”, The Liturgical Year).

What to wear?

On all Marian Feast Days priests will wear white vestments sometimes with accents of gold or blue. Since it is Our Lady’s Birthday, what is a garment you have that evokes joy and makes you feel confident? Perhaps a dress or top you received for a birthday? Or maybe an outfit that you save for special occasions? Put on bright blues and bold patterns.

Our Lady’s Namesake: September 12th

Mary’s name holds roots in the Old Testament from Moses’ sister, Miriam. Recognizing that Moses and Miriam were from Egypt it is worth digging into the Egyptian roots; so, “Why was the name Mary chosen by the parents of Our Blessed Lady and by a number of others mentioned in the New Testament, if the word was Egyptian? The meaning of Mary is derived from the Egyptian Mery, Meryt (cherished, beloved), is most suitable for an only daughter” (Catholic Encyclopedia).

We can look to parallels in Mary’s namesake, with Moses and Miriam’s Song (Exodus 15:1-20), after the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, and Our Lady’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).

“My strength and my refuge is the Lord, and he has become my savior. This is my God, I praise him…Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, while all the women went out after her with tambourines, dancing; and she responded to them: Sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.”

The Magnificat echoes a similar proclamation, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior… He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.”

It is also fitting that God would have inspired Joachim and Ann to choose such a name for His Mother based on the various meanings of the name. There is difficulty in narrowing down the exact Egyptian meaning behind, miriam or miryam, but here are a few possible translations: “bitter sea,” “great sorrow,” “healed one,” “strong one,” “well nourished” (synonymous with beauty and bodily perfection), “beautiful one,” “perfect one,” and “exalted one.”

Finally, a favorite and delightful translation of Mary’s name was defined in a German Catholic Theology Journal of 1906, “Based on its derivation from the Egyptian mer or mar, to love, and the Hebrew Divine name Yam or Yahweh. Thus explained the name denotes ‘one loving Yahweh’ or ‘one beloved by Yahweh.’” (Catholic Encyclopedia)

What to wear?

Choose one of the translations that resonates with you and wear garments that reflect it.

  • Bitter Sea: Navy blue and silver accessories (the silver lining of the Resurrection amidst present suffering, Mary hoped even in the grief of Holy Saturday).

  • Healed One: Light dusty blues and linen or cotton (Christ frees us from the burial cloths of the past, Mary was always free from Original Sin).

  • Strong One: Royal blue and leather (Mary lives out her daughterhood perfectly as daughter of the King and Queen of Heaven, she calls us to be brave and do the same).

  • Well Nourished: Blue florals and gold accessories (Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven. Christ is tender with caring for the garden of our body and soul, let us be tender with ourselves).

  • Beloved by Yahweh/Loving Yahweh: Blue and red with silk (Mary’s worship of Christ and union with Him has always been a collision of heaven and earth, sorrow and joy. Let us rest in the Holy Hearts).

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