SummaryJanuary is the month of the Holy Name of Jesus. Mary Donellan offers five simple ways to honor His Name and make reparation for the world’s irreverence.
As Catholic families, we see many moral tragedies are going on in today’s culture.
However, it would seem that one of the most prevalent, and the most callously dismissed, is the tragedy of irreverence towards the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
Every Knee Should Bow
As homeschooling families, we’re blessed to spend our days in our home environment. Here, we can revere our faith and honor the Name of Jesus, of God our Father, and all His titles as a family by our careful words and reverent prayers.
But immersed in our domestic churches, we can never help but notice how irreverently the world treats the name of God. Often, it’s forced in our faces.
We turn on a public-channel cooking show, and immediately, an OMG lances our ears through the television speakers. We open an entertaining juvenile fantasy book that’s otherwise clean, but the characters inevitably use the Holy Name of God in the pettiest moments of frustration and anger.
Sadly, even our extended family members, friends, or fellow parishioners sometimes don’t seem to realize they are using God’s name for purposes other than prayer. Taking the Holy Name in vain has become almost normalized in our culture.
This is a sobering and deeply disheartening reality, especially when we contrast it with the commanding words of St. Paul to the Philippians: That in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
Instead of bowing, however, most of the world is employing the Name of our Creator and Savior flippantly and irreverently.
As Catholic families, we might not directly change people’s actions, and we might feel overwhelmed or helpless at the scale of these offenses towards God. However, there are special ways in which we can go the extra mile to honor the Holy Name in the face of today’s irreverent culture.
Our homes can become places of reparation and joy to the Heart of Jesus, and the merits and graces from our good actions can assist others in turning aside from their irreverence and inspiring them with love for the Holy Name.
And the month of January, being dedicated to the Holy Name, is the perfect time to start!
So, without further ado, here are five easy and fruitful ways to honor the Holy Name in your homeschool this January and throughout the year:
1. The Daily “Golden Arrow”
I first stumbled across this one-sentence prayer when I was a little girl reading my small, blue Pieta book of prayers.
Later, my younger sister and I copied it in a notebook, along with a rather daunting amount of other prayers (and lots of holy cards), and for a while, we recited it (and everything else) fairly religiously beside our beds each morning.
That forty-five-minute prayer session didn’t last forever (although we still have the prayerbook!) . . . but this prayer lodged itself in my memory.
After all, few prayers have such a gripping title as “The Golden Arrow” or such ardent sentiments of reparation.
“May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most mysterious and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified, in Heaven, on earth and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.”
Granted, it’s a mouthful! But it’s beautiful. Private revelation holds it was given by Our Lord to a Carmelite nun in the mid-1800’s. Its words strongly and urgently remind us of the sacredness and majesty of God’s Name in a world that has forgotten both.
There are many ways you could incorporate this prayer into your daily homeschool routine: during morning prayers, or at the blessing before meals, or before bed. You could tape it up by your sink or bathroom mirror or use it for memory or copy-work material (to the joy of your children!).
2. Daily Divine Praises
The Divine Praises are well-known and loved by many Catholics, and most of us are familiar with them if we’ve ever attended Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction.
This prayer is a beautiful act of reparation, because it specifically honors the Holy Name not once, but twice. Like “The Golden Arrow,” it’s brief, and since it’s written in short ejaculations, it’s relatively easy to recite without everyone going off into their own rhythms (at least no more than they usually do!)
Or, if you have younger children, everyone could take a line and recite the prayer in circular fashion, which might be a popular method!
Again, you could bring in this prayer any time during your homeschooling day or alternate it with “The Golden Arrow” every other day or week . . . there are lots of possibilities, depending on your preferences or time.
But no matter how you might introduce either of these prayers into your homeschool, one thing remains certain: they will console the Heart of Jesus and draw your home and your family closer to Him through these simple acts of reparation.
3. Transform “OMG” into a prayer
The “OMG” is the most frequent and most thoughtless way in which Our Lord’s name is taken in vain.
Whether in the grocery store or while listening to radio, you’re bound to hear it. However, the practice in my family has become to finish any “OMG” we hear by mentally transforming it into a prayer. Why not try implementing this in your own family?
Even small children can be taught to understand the phrase “Oh, my God,” should only be heard in a prayer addressed to Our Lord.
As parents or older siblings (or even babysitters), we can explain this to younger children as a ‘mission’ of sorts: “Anytime you hear someone say ‘Oh, my God,’ and you’re not sure they’re praying, you have a mission: finish the prayer! All you have to do is say in your heart, I love You, or Have mercy on me, etc. This will make God very happy!”
And it isn’t any different for older students and adults, although we could vary these prayers if we wished. We too have the mission to turn these thoughtless offenses into prayers of love. It easily becomes a habit and is one of the most practical and achievable forms of reparation to the Holy Name!
4. Implement “Head-Bowing”
Once upon a time, every practicing Catholic bowed his or her head at the name of Jesus, whether in conversation or in prayer. Men even removed their hats (if they weren’t already in church)!
Where have those times gone?
Bowing your head at the Holy Name hearkens to Scripture and witnesses to a deep interior reverence for Our Lord and His Name. Why not bring this old traditional practice back into your family’s homeschool?
Example is key here, so it’s probably best to start with the parents and older children bowing their heads each time the Name of Jesus is spoken or heard, while encouraging younger children to join in.
At first, it’s hard to remember every time, but from personal experience, it soon becomes second nature and instantly reminds me I’m not just speaking or hearing any name—this truly is the Name above all Names, the Name of my God.
What a beautiful practice of devotion to start in your homeschool, a practice that will be noticed and even possibly imitated by others around you, through God’s grace and your witness.
5. Honor an Image of the Holy Name
Finally, a simple but beautiful way to honor the Holy Name and to make reparation for offenses against it is to set up an image or monogram of the Holy Name (“IHS”) in a visible place (the fireplace mantle, prayer shelf, or kitchen table would be perfect!) and to burn a blessed votive candle in front of it. (You could draw the monogram or print one out from online.)
Honoring the Holy Name in this way serves as a visual reminder to everyone of the sacredness of God’s Name and could even serve as a subtle way to evangelize to visitors about devotion to the Holy Name!
But no matter how you choose to honor the Holy Name of God in your homeschool (whether it’s this January or throughout the year), know it is seen by Christ, and He is lavishing graces on your family because of your devotion to consoling His much-offended Heart.
Blessed be God! Blessed be His Holy Name!