Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.
And for this God raised him high, and gave him the name which is above all other names; so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
The month of January is dedicated to the Most Holy Name of Jesus, which feast day we celebrate on January 3. This most beautiful and sacred Name of Our Lord is far too often abused and debased in our world—treated as little more than a swear word in our society, and sadly, by many who call themselves Catholics. A word once understood to be spoken only with great reverence and a bowing of the head—the Name of our very God and Saviour, Jesus Christ—shall we let it become profaned and meaningless?
Perhaps if we really understood what the Name of Jesus means, and how powerful it is, we would be less likely to disregard it or ignore it when others use His Name in vain.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “To pray ‘Jesus’ is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him” (Para. 2666). In other words, when we pray the Name of Jesus, He is truly present among us, offering us His love and His grace. But when we take His name in vain, it is as though we are inviting Him among us only to treat His as the guards did who put the crown of thorns on His head and spat on Him and hit Him. Please, think of that when you are tempted to use His name as a swear word, or when you hear others do so.
Instead, we should make it our practice to prayerfully repeat the Name of Jesus throughout the day, inviting Him to be with us in all that we do (cf. Col. 3:17). According to Fr. Paul Sullivan, OP’s booklet, The Wonders of the Holy Name, praying the name of Jesus reverently, with the intention of honouring Him, has several tremendous effects:
- Each time we say the Name of Jesus, we give God infinite glory, by offering Him all the infinite merits of Jesus’ Passion and Death.
- We gain a partial indulgence for the souls in Purgatory when, throughout the day, we lift our minds and souls in humble confidence to God during the course and trials of our life, especially with a pious invocation, such as praying the Holy Name.
- The Name of Jesus gives us strength in our sufferings, making them easier to bear, and fills our souls with peace and joy.
- The Holy Name of Jesus delivers us from evil and harm, and especially from the power of the Devil.
The name “Jesus” means “God saves”. The very Name of Jesus reminds us of the infinite love that God has for each one of us, that He would come to suffer and die for our sins, and make the way of reconciliation between Him and us. Each time we pray the Name of Jesus, we recall His great love and sacrifice, and can even, by doing so, unite ourselves and our prayers with all the masses said throughout the world! There truly is power in the Name of Jesus!
So how best do we pray the Name of Jesus? There are many ways we can, and the one(s) that feel most suited to our own spiritualities and states in life are the ones we should use. It can be as simple as just repeating the word “Jesus” over and over again reverently, or singing it to ourselves. We can pray the ancient prayer known as the Jesus Prayer, popular in the Eastern Churches: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner!” or the simpler form, “My Jesus, mercy!” Fr. Sullivan, mentioned above, recommends making or acquiring a Holy Card with the name of Jesus on it, and carrying it on our person throughout the day, and placing it under our pillows when we sleep.
Finally, though, what shall we do when we see others taking Our Lord’s Name in vain? Where possible or appropriate, kindly rebuke them, even as gently as saying that their use of Jesus’ Name as a swear word is offensive to you. For the most part, I’ve found that when we live a life of integrity at our workplace, and people know our religious convictions, even if they disagree, most are respectful enough to at least try to curtail their bad habit. If, however, confronting someone about it is either impossible or imprudent, cross yourself and offer your suffering or sorrow at hearing the blasphemy to the Holy Name of Jesus in reparation for the offence, and pray for the person’s conversion, in the Name of Jesus, “for of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved” (Acts 4:12).
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