03 January 2009


You shall call His Name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

It is the Name which Saint Paul tells us is above all names – JESUS – and at His Name every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (cf. Philippians 2:9-11). Also from Sacred Scripture are these words: “Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and magnify Your Name?” (Revelation 15:4).

I’ve just had the great pleasure of praying First Vespers from the Roman Breviary for the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which includes Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’s exquisite hymn, “Iesu Dulcis Memoria”. Rather than provide a translation of that hymn here, Vultus Christi has provided a beautiful translation by Gerard Manley Hopkins, so please check that out.

The Name of “Jesus” alone is a great source for prayer. Quite popular in Eastern Christianity is the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” There are variations to this prayer including just simply saying the Name of “Jesus”.

But words aren’t even necessary. In Saint Ignatius of Antioch’s Epistle to the Ephesians, he wrote: “It is better for a man to be silent and be [a Christian] than to talk and not be one. He who possesses the word of Jesus, is truly able to hear even his very silence, that he may be perfect and be recognized by his silence” (Chapter 15).

A great promoter of the Holy Name devotion was Saint Bernardine of Siena. Excerpted from one of his homilies, are these words: “The Name of Jesus is the glory of preachers, because the shining splendor of that Name causes his word to be proclaimed and heard. This Name must be proclaimed, that it may shine out and never be suppressed. And how do you think such an immense, sudden and dazzling light of faith came into the world, if not because Jesus was preached? Was it not through the brilliance and sweet savor of this Name that God called us into His marvelous light? When we have been enlightened, and in that same light behold the light of heaven, rightly may the apostle Paul say to us: Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light” (Sermo 49, De Glorioso Nomine Iesu Christi).

Cheating a little bit and taking a quick peak ahead to the hour of Matins I read the edifying words of Saint Bernard saying that the Name of Jesus is: mel in ore (honey in the mouth), in aure melos (a melody in the ear), and in corde iubilus (joyfulness in the heart).