living up to the name

Maritza, my given first name, means “little blessed one.”

It comes from “Mara” or the more common Mary, which meant “bitterness,” until the birth of Christ, at which point Mary became known as “The Blessed One.”   (Cause she got to birth the dear sweet baby Jesus.) In fact, one on the most common Catholic prayers says,

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

I used to always explain to people that my name was just Maria with extra letters, which it is, sort of (Maria is one of those REALLY common names in Mexico that people had to get creative with to keep from too many kids with the same name.  My grandmother is named Maria, my mother Marta, and me, Maritza).

But once, in a coffee shop, a Greek scholar heard my name and was amazed. “Are you Greek?!” “No sir, not at all.” “Do you know what your name means?” “Well, no sir…not at all.”

And so he explained. That Mary, the blessed one, has a nickname. Maritsa, or the Spanish version, Maritza.  It’s like what you’d call the blessed one, if she was also small and treasured.

This morning my father has caused me to live up to my name. Despite starting with bitterness, he has called me from mara to maritza, given me a beautiful sunrise and a beautiful blue sky, a call from that musician I like so much, and a full day with no obligations other than work- wonderfully uninterrupted time to be part of the things God is doing.

You can call me Maritza, if you want to.

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