Why honor the Holy Name of Jesus?
In the New Testament, St. Paul writes that God the Father “bestowed on him (Christ Jesus) the name that is above every other 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.” (Phillipians, 2:9)
We give honor to the Holy Name of Jesus, not because we believe in some intrinsic power hidden in the letters composing it, but because the Name of Jesus reminds us of the many blessings we receive through Our Savior, Christ the Lord. To give thanks for these blessings we revere His Holy Name, just as we honor His Passion by honoring His Holy Cross. At the Holy Name of Jesus, we uncover our heads, we bend our knees, and we offer our prayers in His Name.
As our ancestors in faith, the people of the Old Covenant, honored and kept most holy the name of the Lord God, so we, the people of the New Covenant, venerate the Name of Our Redeemer, the second person of the Holy Trinity, who is Jesus Christ Our Lord.
The veneration of the Holy Name of Jesus first became popular in the 12th century due to the efforts of the Cistercians, most importantly those of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. He was a special lover of the Holy Name and speaks of it in many of his sermons. Franciscans in the 15th century, especially St. Bernadino of Siena and St. John Capistrano, became the greatest promoters of the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. These two saints carried with them, on their missions throughout Italy, a copy of the monogram “IHS” of the Holy Name of Jesus, surrounded by rays, with which they blessed the sick and worked many miracles. At the close of their fiery sermons, the saints exhibited the monogram of the Holy Name to the faithful and asked them to prostrate themselves, to adore the Name of the Redeemer of mankind. Celebrations in honor of the Holy Name of Jesus occurred on a local level throughout Europe until the feast was extended to the whole Roman Catholic Church in 1721 during the pontificate of Innocent XIII.
What should we recall, what should we think about on this special feast day? Of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, let us remember that it brings help to us in our bodily needs, according to the words of Our Lord: “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents (with their hands), and if they drink and deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” (Gospel of St. Matthew 16:17-18). Let us remember that in the Name of Jesus, the Apostles gave strength to the lame and even life to the dead. The Holy Name gives us consolation in times of trial and protects us against Satan and his evil designs, for the Devil fears the Name of Jesus, who triumphed over him on the Holy Cross. Finally, in the Name of Jesus we obtain every blessing and grace for eternity, for Our Lord said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name He will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” (Gospel of St. John 16:23-24)