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What’s in a name?

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. Why have a feast day for a name?

In the Old Testament, names carried profound significance. Whenever someone’s name was changed, it connoted a new identity and mission from God. For example, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham when He called him to become the father of many nations. Similarly, after Jacob wrestled with God, the Lord blessed him and renamed him Israel, a name which means “He strives with God.”

Simon, son of Jonah, also received a new name upon professing Christ and receiving his commission as the first pope. Jesus renamed him Peter (which means “rock”).

Names are important. Jesus’ Name is divinely-appointed and means “Savior.” In the Jewish religion, the Name of God—Yahweh—was so sacred that it was rarely spoken.

Interestingly, in contrast, Jesus’ Name was pronounced every day during His earthly life, since He lived and worked among men and using His Name was necessary.

We have, then, this sacred Name, which He allowed to be used every day while on earth. And He still desires us to use It every day—not because It is “ordinary” but because It is powerful.

We use this Name at the conclusion of many prayers we say in the Holy Mass and in our prayer lives. Our Lord desires us to call on His Name for temporal and spiritual aid, as a shield against temptation, as a sword against the devil and his legions who fear this Name and pay It reverence in spite of themselves. It’s a Name that should be on our lips not just in life, but at the hour of our death, as it was in the lives and deaths of countless saints.

The Litany of the Holy Name, approved by Pope Pius IX and endorsed by Leo XIII, is a powerful way of reverencing the Holy Name and making reparation for the innumerable blasphemies uttered against It in our irreverent age. Even just pronouncing the Name of Jesus with devotion is a precious act of love that we can offer Him throughout the day.

Another way many souls remind themselves of the Holy Name is by writing “J.M.J.”—Jesus, Mary, Joseph—at the top of a sheet of paper before they begin writing. At The Catholic Company, we offer a 50-page notepad with beautiful devotional art of the Three Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and the acronym at the top, so that you can remember and honor these Names every day. Order yours today!

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