January 2, 2018

Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

Jesus Christ

January 3rd the Church celebrates the optional memorial of the Most Holy Name of Our Lord Jesus. The Church reveals to us the wonders of the Incarnate Word by singing the glories of His name. The name of Jesus means Savior; it had been foretold in a dream to Saint Joseph together with its significance and to the most Blessed Virgin Mary at the time of the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel.

Devotion to the Holy Name is deeply rooted in the Sacred Scriptures, especially in the Acts of the Apostles. It was promoted in a special manner by St. Bernard, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. John Capistrano and by the Franciscan Order. It was extended to the whole Church in 1727 during the pontificate of Innocent XIII. January has traditionally been dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus Our Savior.

Fr. Pius Parsch observes, "This feast marks no progress in the development of the Church year. It merely embellishes the occasion just observed when the Child received the Name Jesus as had been foretold by the angel. The feast is meant to impress on us Christians the dignity of the Holy Name. It is a relatively new feast, stemming out of devotional piety. Nevertheless, it is not difficult to find in it some liturgical or ancient Christian dogma. What did a name signify originally? The name should express the nature of a thing. Thus Adam in paradise gave the animals names in accordance with their being. Among the Jews God's name expressed His essence, Yahweh, i.e., I (alone) am who am (and cause all else to be). The Jews had the highest respect for the name of God, a reverence that finds continuation in the Our Father: 'Hallowed be Thy Name.'"

The great saint of the Holy Name is Saint Bernardine of Siena. He wrote a long treatise on the Holy Name, which teems with matter for prayer. The Holy Name, he says, is first of all fruitful for beginners. For these, for sinners, "it shows the immense mercifulness of God, it enables a devout man to gain a victory in every conflict, whether with the devil, the flesh, or the world, it has the power of healing sickness when rightly used, it fills with joy and exultation those who are in any adversity." He quotes Saint Peter, that "through His name all [will] receive remission of sin who believe in Him. There is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved." O Lord, help us to be holy, in Your Name.

Prayer to the Holy Name of Jesus

Eternal Father, who did give to Your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation: Plant in every heart, we beseech You, the love of Him who is the Savior of the world, ever our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns together with You and with the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. Almighty God, give your people the mercy they implore, so that all may know there is no other name to be invoked but the Name of your Only Begotten Son!

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