(This countdown is purely self-indulgent and does not aim to explain any theology or dogma so cut me some slack here, ok?)
Welcome back to our Top Five Count Down! Last March, I had a post on the top five coolest apostles, which, mercilessly, no one bothered to read. Gayunpaman, that does not stop me from rating some aspects of our Church’s rich tradition according the degree of their coolness. Inuulit ko, no heavy theology here. Trip-trip lang, as usual. Hehehe… Having made that clear, let’s get on with our count down. This week, we’re rating the titles of Mary in the Litany (you know, the ones said after the rosary). Here they go…
Seat of Wisdom finds itself at number five! This title, inspired by the many icons of Mary holding Jesus, the Holy Wisdom, figures strongly in the Eastern Church traditions, but that isn’t what this count down is all about. Sedes Sapientiae made it to our top five precisely because it’s every Catholic teacher’s favorite opening prayer at each class. I actually never knew the reason why, but, since my college days until I took up Theology, there is hardly a professor, whether a layperson, a nun or a priest, who would begin his lecture with an originally composed prayer. While nuns favored classic prayers, like Morning Offering, Hail Mary and lines form a church hymn, the rest of the professors opted to mumble, after crossing themselves, “Mary, Seat of Wisdom,” to which the students will automatically reply, “pray for us.” Whether the teacher simply finds the Hail Mary too long or this title especially encourages their students to rely more to the Blessed Mother rather than on kodigos, I’ll never know.
Ark of the Covenant falls on number three! This title has a strong biblical meaning, prefigured in the Book of Exodus and affirmed by the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, but again, must I repeat, that is hardly the reason why it’s the number four Marian title. It’s there because this title evokes the timeless tale of a man who drank from the Cup, emerged from the tomb, and has saved the word from doom, the man resurrected for all of us, not by God but by George Lucas: Indiana Jones. And, must I push forward, the title is also very Dan Brown-ish, with all that crap about Priory of Zion and the Holy Grail. But it only made it to the third because really, after all this pop culture references, Catholics hardly refer to Mary as the Ark of the Covenant. Shame on us.
Tower of Ivory is the fourth on our five coolest titles. I have no idea why this is a Marian title, aside probably to some vague references at the Song of Songs, describing the neck of a young woman. I can’t surmise that Mary too has a neck that looked like an ivory tower, nor can I conclude that she’s longlegged (hence, a tower) or jaundice-skinned (hence, a yellowing ivory). Ironically, an ivory tower is often a symbolic place for those who daydreams or who are arrogantly intellectual. It can be suggested however that Mary, as tower of ivory, means, she is a stronghold made out of pure material (just like Ivory soap which is 100% pure soap). Teka, corny na…
Morning Star made it to our number two spot. What’s cool about this title is that Mary shares it with, of all people, Lucifer. Imagine calling your mother the same monicker as your archnemesis. But the title’s coolness does not stop there. Morning Star, according to our gradeschool science, is the planet Venus. Venus is named such because, at dawn, when all stars have vanished one by one, the Morning Star shines the brightest and is the last one to go. Same goes when evening comes where our Morning Star is the first one to appear. Now that makes a good title for Mary because it describes her to be not only punctual but also the one who always works overtime. In Latin, the title is Stella Matutina, which sounds like bomba star meets 80’s quintessential katulong. And would you believe that it is also very Sharonian? Venus as a planet is a bituing walang ningning. Now, in your mind, sing that classic ditty as though it’s the Blessed Mother singing it. Now doesn’t that give you goosebumps? Now, imagine KC singing it. Hmmm… KC… <<goosebumps sabay tulo laway>>
Hep, hep! Tama na ang pagpapantasya… Tapusin na natin ito.
The title which bags our number one spot is…Mystical Rose! Now, quite a number of reason why Mystical Rose made it to the number one, and Donita Rose has nothing to do with it. So does the singer Mystica. Rather, let’s see the serious merits of that cool Marian title. Mystical Rose is translated in the Batangueño version of the litany as “Rosang Bulaklak na Di-Mapuspos ng Bait ng Tao ang Halaga.” Quite a mouthful, diba, but that’s besides the point. What is underlined here is the mystery of this title. It recalls the epitaph of Rilke (“Oh Rose, pure contradiction…etc.”), the book of Umberto Eco (The Name of the Rose), that awful perfume old ladies wear (Tearose), that Edith Piaf movie (La Vie en Rose), etc… Mystical Rose captures all that cannot be explained about Mary, all the qualities that we wish to imbue to the Blessed Virgin, all that is beyond us and yet, and yet haunts us still. Naku, teka, sentihan na ito..
Those who almost made it to our list are the following: Mother of God (already a Hall-of-Famer ), and Gate of Heaven (say “Pinto ng Langit” and tell me what comes first in your naughty mind). Now, once again, I have a new reason to seek confession tomorrow. Till next count down.
Mother Mary, pray for Utoy!