Tag Archives: Holy Name

The Name Above All Names

3 Jan

St. BernardineToday is the memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus. The saints through the ages have borne witness to the Holy Name of Jesus. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” –St. Paul (Philippians 2:10-11)

“St. Paul bore the Name of Jesus on his forehead because he gloried in proclaiming it to all men; he bore it on his lips because he loved to invoke it; on his hands, for he loved to write it in his epistles; in his heart, for his heart burned with love of it.” –St. Thomas Aquinas

“Jesus, Name full of glory, grace, love and strength! You are the refuge of those who repent, our banner of warfare in this life, the medicine of souls, the comfort of those who mourn, the delight of those who believe, the light of those who preach the true faith, the wages of those who toil, the healing of the sick. To You our devotion aspires; by You our prayers are received; we delight in contemplating You. O Name of Jesus, You are the glory of all the saints for eternity. Amen.”
St. Bernardine of Siena

Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus is truly the antidote for sins against the Second Commandment. (“Thou shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.”) The goal is to duly honor and praise Our Lord, and not simply avoid blasphemy or cursing. Here are some of the ways we keep the Lord”s name holy:

–Fostering a sense of the sacred, of God’s presence and action in our midst.
–Proclaiming without fear our belief in the Holy Trinity.
–Listening attentively to the Word of God.
–Offering prayers of praise and thanksgiving, and by invoking His name in times of need.
–Taking oaths very seriously, in honesty and integrity, because taking an oath (“swearing to God”) is to call upon God as a witness to the truth of what we are saying.

Are names important? What are the first three words of our most common prayer? “In the name . . .” And in return, God doesn’t call us in some generic fashion. Rather, He calls each of us by name. For more, check out Catechism, nos. 2142-67. 

Catechesis on the Second Commandment

7 Nov

Last week we began at No Place Like Home a catechetical series on the Ten Commandments by focusing on the First Commandment (“I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me”).

Today we turn to the Second Commandment:

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

The name of the Lord is holy. In the Old Testament, the Lord’s name was considered so holy that it wasn’t even spoken aloud (see Catechism, nos. 206-09).

As Christians, we have been baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We recall our Baptism when we begin our daily prayers or activities with the Sign of the Cross (“In the name of the Father . . .”).

The Second Commandment calls us to show reverence and respect to God’s name. When we do this, we are simply showing Him the respect He deserves (see Catechism, no. 2144).

Here are some of the ways we keep the Lord’s name holy:

  • Fostering a sense of the sacred, of God’s presence and action in our midst.
  • Proclaiming without fear our belief in the Holy Trinity.
  • Listening attentively to the Word of God.
  • Offering prayers of praise and thanksgiving, and by invoking His name in times of need.
  • Taking oaths very seriously, in honesty and integrity, as taking an oath (“swearing to God”) is to call upon God as a witness to the truth of what we are saying.

The two principal sins against the Second Commandment are blasphemy and perjury.

Blasphemy is any speech, thought, or action involving contempt for God. It forbids the use of the names of the persons of the Trinity–as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints–in an offensive way. Blasphemy is a sinful failure to respect God.

Perjury is the deliberate lying or withholding of truth when under oath. This also shows a serious lack of respect for God, whom we ask to be a “witness” to our dishonesty.

Not only do we invoke the name of the Lord, but He likewise calls each one of us by name (see Isaiah 43:1). Every Christian man, woman, and child has his or her own personal vocation to follow Jesus, as each individual follower is unique and precious to Him. This truth also reminds us of the significance of the Christian name given to us at Baptism.

The saints through the ages have borne witness to the Holy Name of Jesus. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” —St. Paul (Philippians 2:10-11)

“St. Paul bore the Name of Jesus on his forehead because he gloried in proclaiming it to all men; he bore it on his lips because he loved to invoke it; on his hands, for he loved to write it in his epistles; in his heart, for his heart burned with love of it.” —St. Thomas Aquinas

“Jesus, Name full of glory, grace, love and strength! You are the refuge of those who repent, our banner of warfare in this life, the medicine of souls, the comfort of those who mourn, the delight of those who believe, the light of those who preach the true faith, the wages of those who toil, the healing of the sick. To You our devotion aspires; by You our prayers are received; we delight in contemplating You. O Name of Jesus, You are the glory of all the saints for eternity. Amen.” —St. Bernardine of Siena

St. Bernardine of Siena

21 May

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Bernardine of Siena. As a child in Southern California, I never heard about St. Bernardine, though the nearby city of San Bernardino (my brother called it “San Ber-doo”) was named after him. I only later learned that this 15th-century Franciscan priest was quite a dynamic evangelist and preacher.

He is perhaps best known for fostering devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His “MO” was to travel from city to city throughout all of Italy carrying a banner with the large letters “IHS” (more on that in a minute) encircled by twelve golden rays surmounted by a cross.

I’ve always been curious about the “IHS,” which is found (thanks in large part to St. Bernardine) in many Catholic churches and on many religious items. There has been a certain amount of confusion on this. Some say it signifies “In hoc Signo vinces” (“In this Sign you will conquer,” referring to Constantine’s famous vision, with the nails on the emblem forming the “v”), while others say it’s the first letters of Iesus Hominum Salvator (“Jesus, Savior of Mankind”).

The most plausible and widely accepted interpretation that I’ve encountered is that it’s simply an abbreviated form of the name of Jesus, as it appears in Greek, The earliest recorded use of this monogram appears to be the eighth century.

Aside from all the history behind it, the important thing is that “IHS” has come to be recognized as a familiar symbol of the Holy Name of Jesus, a symbol that has been popularized over the past 500 years by Franciscans, Dominicans, and Jesuits. May we recognize, especially in our use of language, the holiness of the name before which “every knee shall bend” (Phil. 2:10).

Let’s close with the prayer of the Church:

Father,
You gave Saint Bernardine a special love
for the holy name of Jesus.
By the help of his prayers,
may we always be alive with the spirit of Your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.