A visiting Latin Mass priest, near my old college parish, once said something in a homily I will never forget. He said, when one hears Our Lord’s Name (during the Mass especially) we should bow our head, and when Our Lady’s Name is mentioned, one is actually supposed to bow their head slightly lower. When he said the latter, he opened my eyes to how so few priests do this for Mary; in fact, so few priests and members of the faithful bow their head for Mary during the Mass… at all. We often see traditional priests, during a homily, or anytime throughout the Mass, will lift their Biretta and bow their head toward the Tabernacle when the Holy Name of Our Lord is mentioned; members of the parish will (should) also bow their heads. Monks will remove their hoods.
Did you know that it is a rubric, in the Latin Mass as well as the Traditional Office, to bow one’s head when we hear or say the names of Jesus, Mary and the Trinity? When those Sacred Names come out of our mouths, in the office in particular, two things happen: a “sight inclination” of the head or a “profound inclination”.
(Sometimes it feels like a religious can get a head rush, because if the name of Jesus, Mary and the Trinity are said in the same antiphon, one is profoundly bowing their head three times and at a quicker pace, because antiphons are not usually very long, and one has to be ready for the next head bow!)
(A slight bow of the head and shoulders.)
Outside of the Office and the Mass, we obviously cannot walk around and “profoundly” bow our heads when someone says Our Lord or Our Lady’s Name, but the perfect way we can put into practice the “slight” is a simple bow of the head when we hear the precious Names of Jesus and Mary, at any time- even outside of rubrical ceremonies such as the Office. Religious orders also have books called “the ceremonial”, filled with more rubrics for things such as what to expect during a vows or clothing ceremony, that are never random, they must be followed. Bowing our heads for the Names, most especially during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, must be observed, precisely because it is a rubric. We just celebrated the feast of the Holy Name of Mary; I recently heard a story about a young woman who was possessed and in need of an exorcism and the priest simply told her to pray a Hail Mary as he performed the exorcism. The priest said that he noticed her struggle during the prayer, she would say, “Hail Mm-“ she would try again, “Hail Mm…”. She could not, rather the demons would not let her, say the name of Mary because they knew the power that mere Name has.
The devils even revealed to Francis of Yepes, the brother of St. John of the Cross that three things especially tormented them. The first is the NAME OF JESUS; the second, the NAME OF MARY; and third, THE BROWN SCAPULAR OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL. “Take off that habit,” they cried to him, “which snatches too many souls from us. All those clothed in it die piously and escape us.”
All I can humbly and simply say, is while it is a preference for me to bow my head slightly during the Mass, the office or upon hearing the Name of Our Lord, this NEEDS to be the case for Mary as well. And in order for you to understand why it’s more than a preference, because as I said, it is a rubric. Remember in my Carmelite Rite Matins videos when I pointed out how everything in red are the rubrics, instructions? It is written in red as a demand to bow our heads for the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. But as I said, how many (priests even) do not do this for Mary? The Catholic Church made it a rubric; we must do this! Why is it being ignored or not be followed even in the slightest for Mary? I am also willing to predict, and guarantee, that the next Latin Mass you go to, you will see the priest bow their head for Our Lord but will not do it for Our Lady. I have seen a New Mass priest bow their head for Mary, but Latin Mass priests not doing so? This is grievous and should never be. I am hoping that this post will make the faithful realize how often Mary is neglected, even in rubrical matters…
Our Lord Himself, desires Mary to be placed next to Him in all; this also means the same respect. When Lucia of Fatima was a Dorothean Nun, Our Lord revealed to her that He desires the consecration of Russia to be recognized as the triumph of the Immaculate Heart, so that the Church will finally place devotion to Her Heart BESIDE devotion to His. That is why the First Friday is placed next to the First Saturday. The feast of the Pure Heart of Mary is placed next to the Sacred Heart. We see titles such as “the Holy Name of Jesus” and the “Holy Name of Mary”. These Two are inseparable in everything; They are One. That is why I also capitalize my “H” or “S” in referring to “Her” or “She” with Mary, the same way we do for Our Lord in capitalizing the “H” in “Him” or “He”. Please do not take my word for it, I am a nobody, but Our Lord Himself is the One who desires “the Woman”, His most prized possession, His Pearl to be elevated, respected, and tenderly loved as a Queen should be. The Queen’s throne is always found beside the King’s. We should train ourselves to follow these rubrics and treat the Royalty with the reverence they deserve. And next time someone tries to debate you on bowing your head for Mary, you can smile and say, “because the Catholic Church made it a rubric”.