Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Holy Name of Our Lord

2 January A.D. 2011

In the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.”2

Ordinary of the Mass
Latin Mass Text
English Mass Text
Litany of the Holy Name

Today we celebrate the Holy Name of Jesus, the name given to Him by God, and conveyed to Mary and Joseph by the Angel Gabriel. Devotion to the Holy Name has been part of our Catholic tradition, at least since the eleventh century and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who preached a number of sermons extolling the name of our Savior. It has been a feast of the Universal Church since 20 December 1721, when it was established by Pope Innocent XIII. It was fixed on this Sunday by Pope Saint Pius X in 1914.3

The name “Jesus” comes to us from the Latin Iesus, and in turn from the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iēsoûs), itself a Hellenisation of the Hebrew יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yĕhōšuă‘, Joshua) meaning “Yahweh delivers (or rescues).”4 “Yahweh,” of course is the Old Testament name for God—or at least our best guess at how the Hebrew consonants יהוה‎, YHWH would have been pronounced, for the name of God was considered so sacred by the Jews that it was pronounced only once a year by the High Priest in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, and was never written with its vowels.

In the Old Testament God treated His people sternly—they tended to go off after false “gods” too easily—but the New Testament is more grounded in His love. As Catholics we are encouraged to use the name of God reverently, and are forbidden to make wrongful use of His Holy Name, and entirely forbidden to curse people in God's Name. We are exhorted to bow our heads reverently whenever we speak or hear the Holy Name. Even today, the Church grants a partial indulgence “to the faithful who, in the performance of their duties and in bearing the trials of life, raise their mind with humble confidence to God, adding even if only mentally [the name of “Jesus” (or some other pious invocation)].”5 There is also a partial indulgence for the recitation of the Litany of the Holy Name.6

The New Testament contains a number of references to things that will be fostered if done in the Name of Jesus:

In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.”7 Saint Peter restored a lame man to his feet: “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise, and walk.”8 We are promised by our Lord that He will be with us: “For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”9 “If you ask the Father anything in my name he will give it you.”10 For this reason, the Church concludes all of Her prayers addresssed to God the Father with the phrase “Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen”

The Name of Jesus gives consolation in spiritual trials. It reminds the sinner of the prodigal son's father and of the Good Samaritan; it recalls to the just the suffering and death of the innocent Lamb of God. It protects us against Satan and his wiles, for the Devil fears the Name of Jesus, who has conquered him on the Cross.”11

Our Lord also promises a reward for the good things we do for others in His name: “And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me.”12 “For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in my name, because you belong to Christ: amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”13

In the eleventh century, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux wrote:

The name of Jesus is the purest, and holiest, the noblest and most indulgent of names, the name of all blessings and of all virtues; it is the name of the God-Man, of sanctity itself. To think of Jesus is to think of the great, infinite God Who, having given us His life as an example, has also bestowed the necessary understanding, energy and assistance to enable us to follow and imitate Him, in our thoughts, inclinations, words and actions. If the name of Jesus reaches the depths of our heart, it leaves heavenly virtue there.

Let me close by summarizing: In the Holy Name of Jesus we have been given a great gift, never to be abused, but to be used frequently with the greatest of reverence. We have a number of promises, made by our Lord Himself, of favor and assistance when we call upon His name—and of reward when we do good in His name. Invocation of the Holy Name is a great protection against the attacks of the Devil, and a source of graces through the indulgences of the Church. Consider the great love of God that He condescends even that we may know Him by name!

In the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.”



3  Pope Pius X, motu proprio Abhinc duos annos of 23 October 1913.

5  Enchiridion: First General Grant of Indulgences

11  CE s.v. “Holy Name of Jesus”





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