SummaryTo grow in reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus, Gina Berrios explains the history of this holy Feast, the spread of its devotion, and prayers for January.
When we started homeschooling, the kids and I decided to start our mornings with a different prayer for each month.
We have so many traditions and devotions as Catholics! Focusing on one devotion a month has been a nice way to introduce the kids to the depth and beauty of our Catholic faith.
January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. The feast is January 3, but we can set aside the entire month to focus on this devotion.
Devotion to the Holy Name is an ancient devotion going back to the Old Testament. We see the reverence with which the Jews held the Name of God. The Second Commandment is “You shall not take the Name of the Lord your God in vain.” In the New Testament, Christ teaches us to pray in the Our Father, “Hallowed be thy name.”
A Name Above All Others
St. Paul writes, “Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those 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.” Phil. 2:9-11
In the 13th Century, the Church, especially in France and Spain, was hit especially hard by heresies that were denying the divinity of Christ. Irreverent use of Our Lord’s name was becoming commonplace.
And into this moment in Church history, came St. Dominic. The preaching of St. Dominic and his Dominicans overcame the Albigensian heresy. However, there was a lasting effect of irreverence towards the Holy Name.
The Church responded during the Second Council of Lyons in 1274. Pope Gregory X, who presided over the Council wrote, “…during the Council held at Lyons…We have also judged it proper to persuade the faithful to demonstrate more reverence for that Name above all names, the only name in which we claim salvation—the Name of Jesus Christ, who has redeemed us from the bondage of sin.
Consequently, in view of obeying that apostolic precept, in the Name of Jesus let every knee be bent, we wish that at the pronouncing of that name, chiefly at the Holy Sacrifice, every one would bow his head in token that interiorly he bends the knee of his heart.”
The Dominicans, especially Bl. John of Vercelli, took note and spread the devotion to the Holy Name. Dominican churches erected altars in honor of the Holy Name. Saints such as Bl. Henry Suso, St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena also spread the devotion. St. Berandine of Siena also assisted with extending the devotion through the sacred painting of the initials IHS.
Reverence and Reparation
During this month of January, we can daily pray the Litany of the Holy Name with two intentions: that we may grow in reverence for Jesus and His Holy Name, and in reparation for how His Name is used in vain.
We can perform acts of reverence (and teach them to our children), like making the Sign of the Cross when passing a Catholic Church, bowing our head at the Name of Jesus, or offering a silent prayer when we hear the Lord’s Name used in vain. These are simple gestures to call our minds toward the Divine and to provide a small sacrifice of prayer for our Lord.
Here are three simple prayers, from my Great-Grandfather’s Official Holy Name Manual, which can be prayed throughout the day during January:
Praise of the Holy Name: Glory be to the Father… May the Most Holy Name of Jesus be infinitely blessed.
Reparation to the Holy Name: May the Name of God be blessed!
Invocation of the Holy Name: Jesus!
I like to print out the monthly prayer for my kids to hang by their desk or keep in their planner. Here is a link to a copy of the Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus for you to pray this month.