Mary’s New Name

by Matthew Leonard
by Matthew Leonard

Every time we pray a “Hail Mary,” we’re repeating the words of the Angel Gabriel.

Kind of…

The Angel Gabriel never says, “Hail, Mary.” Instead, he says, “Hail, full of grace” (Lk 1:28). In other words, he calls her by a new name.

Just like other figures in salvation history whose name change denotes something about their identity (Abram becomes Abraham – “Great Father”, Jacob becomes Israel “One who reigns with God”, Simon becomes Peter “Rock”), when he calls her “full of grace,” the word he uses is a new name.

He calls her “kecharitomene, “which means, “favored one” or “full of grace.”

That’s an extremely rare word, used only in the Annunciation scene and in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (1:6-7). In Luke, the term is used in the perfect tense. This means that the angel is saying he finds Mary in an already graced state.

She is “full of grace.” There is no lacking in her.

In other words, she has been immaculately conceived without sin.

Before becoming Catholic, I used to get all in a huff about this. “How can God do that? It doesn’t make sense.” And yet I didn’t have any problem with the fact that Eve was created sinless.

I just didn’t consider the fact that the grace of Christ’s death and resurrection can be applied to any place in time that God wants.

Even though Mary was born after Original Sin and before the Cross of Christ, God is inside and outside of space and time. That means he can apply grace anywhere he wants. We get it 2,000 years after the Cross and Resurrection of Christ.

Mary got it at the moment of her conception. She is created sinless. She is the New Eve.

And the same grace that is given to Mary is the same grace given to us. In fact, she has become the conduit of that grace into our lives. God gave us the grace of His Son through Mary. In other words, she is the channel God uses to give us grace.

(This is part of the basis for all Marian devotion. We go back to God the same way He came to us…through Mary. We’re just using the channel he set up!)

And as our Mother in the faith, Mary is trying to conceive in us the same love and devotion to Our Lord that she’s had since first moment of her conception.

So on this Solemnity of the Annunciation, ask Our Lady to open you up to all the grace of God that she wants to pour out upon you. As the Mother of God…and yours…she knows exactly what you need.

Ave Maria!


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18 Responses

  1. I shared a similar message with my extended family and choir today – with the Greek and all. I was able to do this because of your Bible and The Virgin Mary course 🙂 So a big thank you to you again. I could never say that enough! It’s what started giving me confidence in apologetics.

  2. Thank you Fr.Matthew for sharing this with us .I truly love reading and learning more about The Blessed Mother Mary.God Bless you abundantly today and always †

    1. Thanks, Bernadette! (Though I’m only a father in the natural sense. I’ve got six kids:).

  3. The timing of your post is excellent, as I re-consecrate myself to Our Lady after evening mass today. I look forward to asking for the graces of God that she knows that I need.

    1. That’s great, Matt! I’ve done the consecration (and re-consecration), too! It’s a game-changer. God bless!

  4. Thanks for the article and for reminding us that Mary is the channel through which Grace, that is, Jesus, comes to us.

  5. I was about to unsubscribe because of many other emails clogging up my mail box. But I decided to read this first. I know now that my Guardian Angel made me read it. I have never heard this perspective on name change. I thought it stopped at the reversing if ‘Eva’ to ‘Ave’. How pride makes us think that we know God! Thank you! “My people truly perish for lack of knowledge. I will read you now, regularly. May Our Blessed Virgin Mother confirm you in Grace.

    1. Our Catholic faith is always presenting new, and deeper ways to understand our infinite God, isn’t it, Evelyn? God bless you and thanks for the note!

  6. Thank you Mathew. Maybe this will help some friends , non Catholic, question why we pray for Mary’s intercession and say the Rosary.

    1. Amen to that! The deeper I go into the spiritual life, the more I realize Mary’s huge role in my path to salvation…something I never grasped as a Protestant. Ave Maria!

  7. In yesterday liturgy, the collect prayer said: “Almighty God, deign to accept the gifts of your Church, so that it may be happy to celebrate the mysteries in this solemnity, because it recognizes that it has had its origin in the incarnation of your Only Begotten Son. He who lives and reigns for ever and ever…” I had never known this! That the Church has had its origin in the incarnation of Jesus Christ!!! What a blessed mystery!

    1. Yes! And also, think about Mary’s role in that. Her “yes” essentially gave consent for the Church to be founded through her own body! She is truly the Mother of the Church since she is the Mother of God. The mystery is so deep! God bless you!

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