I have recently had some episodes of 'hospitalisation' ... perhaps readers might spare a prayer or two, and some Masses, for me ... and have been thinking a bit about the use of Names.
In English hospitals, the young women who do duty as nurses or auxiliaries have a habit of continually shouting JOHN!! at me. If it is clear that they must be talking to me, because there is nobody else in the cubicle, they still shout JOHN!! at me before saying the simplest things. "JOHN!! would you move a few inches up the bed!" "JOHN!! we need to put a cannula in your arm!" If there are several of them around, this means an incessant barrage of young female voices all yelling "JOHN!!" at me. To crown it all, 'John' is a vocative which, in the course of my life, has been aimed at me rarely and by rather few people. It is not one of those words to which I instinctively react, like 'Father' or 'Sir' or 'Papa' or 'Grandpapa'.
Women students whom 25 years ago I had occasion to rebuke for being late with their essays did not respond to my criticisms of them by yelling JOHN!! JOHN!! at me.
What would be so unspeakably terrible about simply saying, in polite English, "Please could you move a few inches up the bed"?
I hope readers perused the blogpost I recently wrote which took as its starting point Book 6 of the Odyssey; and that they may still have its points in mind. Meeting Nausicaa on her beach, Odysseus did not reveal to her his Name. He revealed it nowhere in the rest of Book 6. For that matter: when he arrives at the Palace of Nausicaa's Father, he does not say who he is ... nor does anybody expect him to do so.
Not in Book 7 ...
... or in Book 8 ...
In Book 9, in the course of a formal xenia, the xenizontes do respectfully wonder what his name is. Finally, climactically, he reveals: "I am Odysseus son of Laertes and I am Famous!"
When the Archangel brings the tidings of Redemption to our Blessed Lady, he does not stand at the entrance and yell "MARY!!" "MARY!!".
He says Khaire kekharitomene. "Hail one that is established in God's grace and favour".
In the worlds of Homer and of S Luke, Names were not cheap things to be flung arrogantly and carelessly around. They were significant words, precious facts, which to a degree embodied an individual's identity and personality.
Only somebody who was a hopeless vulgarian would fail to understand this, or fail to behave respectfully towards Names.
We should all keep in mind that, most significantly, we are forbidden actually to utter the Name of our own God ( HWHY).
Today is the Festival of the Most Holy Name of Mary.
The first stage of being catechised in the mystagogic School of the Name of Mary, is to realise the preciousness of this Name.
And, I remind you, the rule of our Latin Church is to bow the head when uttering or hearing this Name.
The second stage is, in ones practical use, to employ the Name respectfully.
And the next stage is is to murmur the Name lovingly in all-but-latreutic devotion.
Scripture and the Liturgy, on the Birthday of our Lady, reminded us Oleum effusum Nomen tuum ... Thy name is Oil Poured Out.
"And the Virgin's Name was Mary."