January 15, 2016

January is Dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus

Madonna and Child

The month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. "In the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth and under the earth" [Phil 2:10]. Christ's name is chosen in heaven, and the Angel Gabriel announces it when he informs the Blessed Virgin of the incarnation: "Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus". It is a name that has marvelous implications, for it means "savior." The very name bespeaks the magnitude of His mission, His infinite love, a love that will cause Him to offer Himself up for us.

The name of Jesus is the sweetest of all names, and He who bears it is most worthy of all love. He who calls Jesus his friend can be assured that this friend is the most devoted and unselfish of all friends.

Jesus is our all. In His name we may pray to the Father with assurance of being heard. In His name the Church administers all her sacraments. In His name she offers all her prayers and blesses homes, the fields, and the sick. In the name of Jesus she casts out evil spirits, and at the hour of our death bids us, "Go forth, Christian soul." She assures us that whoever shall call upon this name will be saved. When our soul has departed this life to seek its eternal home, the Church asks in the name of Jesus, "Eternal rest give unto him, O Lord."

— Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

History of the Feast

This feast originated towards the end of the fifteenth century. It was instituted by the private authority of some bishops in Germany, Scotland, England, Spain, and Belgium. The Office and the Mass composed by Bernardine dei Busti [d. 1500] were approved by Pope Sixtus IV. The feast was officially granted to the Franciscans February 25, 1530, and spread over a great part of the Church in the centuries that followed.

Adapted except from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Monogram for the Holy Name

According to the ancient mind, a person's name was the expression of his nature, work, or mission. Early Christians accordingly used our Savior's Name to bring to mind His adorable Person; and in their art they gave it shortened or symbolic forms.


The IHS symbol is one such abbreviation. The familiar abbreviation IHS is a symbol of the Name Jesus which has retained its popularity down through the centuries. It owes its spread to St. Bernardine of Siena, who had it placed on his banner, surrounded with twelve rays of the sun and surmounted by a cross. It soon became the most popular monogram for the holy Name of Jesus. By his fervent words St. Bernardine persuaded many priests to place the letters on altars or on the interior and exterior walls of churches. Many Italian cities responded to his efforts and put the monogram in large letters on the outer walls of their town halls, as may still be seen in Siena.

What is its derivation? IHC is the abbreviation of the Greek ΙΗΣΟUΣ, i.e., Jesus [the first three letters of the word]. The older form for the Greek sigma, S, resembled our capital C. In Christian antiquity this monogram does not occur too frequently and may not be older than the fifth century. In recent centuries the IHS has been falsely interpreted as Jesus Hominum Salvator, or even Jesu humilis societas [and regarded as a colophon for the Society of Jesus]. Another interpretation that is sometimes made is In Hoc Signo [vinces], and out of the added v (for vinces) three nails are formed.

For more see The New Theological Movement's "What does IHS stand for? The meaning of the Holy Name of Jesus".

Prayer to the Holy Name of Jesus

Eternal Father, who didst give to thine incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we beseech thee, the love of him who is the Saviour of the world, even our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Jesu Dulcis Memoria

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
with sweetness fills my breast,
But sweeter far Thy face to see
and in Thy presence rest.

Nor voice can sing nor heart can
frame, Nor can the memory find
a sweeter sound than Thy blest
name, O Savior of mankind.

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek to those
who fall, how kind Thou art,
how good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah
this nor tongue nor pen can show;
the love of Jesus, what it is none
but His loved ones know. Amen.

Reflection by Fr. Paul Nicholson on the Holy Name of Jesus

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