Tomorrow, September 12, we observe the liturgical memorial of the Holy Name of Mary – an old feast, which was removed from the liturgical calendar in 1969, but restored more recently by Pope St. John Paul II.
Did you know that the celebrant at Holy Mass is supposed to bow his head at the name of Mary? Here is what the General Instruction of the Roman Missal says about this gesture:
275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them…
a) A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.
The context of this instruction suggests that it is to be observed by the celebrant and other ministers at Mass. However, there was a time when many people were taught to bow their heads at the names of Jesus and Mary – even when attending Mass in the congregation. I’ve seen some people doing it at some of the Masses I’ve celebrated!
This is a beautiful tradition and a fitting way to honor these powerful and important names. It is also a good way to listen and participate more attentively at Holy Mass.
Maybe we could all resolve to bow our heads slightly out of reverence for the names of Jesus and Mary from now on!