Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Feast of the Holy Name

And after eight days were accomplished, that the child should be circumcised, his name was called JESUS, which was called by the angel, before he was conceived in the womb.

--Luke 2:21

How interesting that on the Feast of the Holy Name I should find an article on the CNN website about baby name remorse. That's right. Sometimes parents name a baby and then change their minds. Going through all the legal hassle of assigning the name they finally decide on can be quite an enterprise.

There was no question, however, about the name of Jesus. It means "the Lord is salvation". How wonderful.

Like many of you, I'm sure, I grew up with the custom of bowing my head slightly at the name of Jesus - especially during the creed. Here's something I just found out:

The custom of bowing the head at the mention of His Name was formally written into law at the Second Council of Lyons, A.D. 1274, convened by Pope Gregory X: "Those who assemble in church should extol with an act of special reverence that Name which is above every Name, than which no other under Heaven has been given to people, in which believers must be saved, the Name, that is, of Jesus Christ, Who will save His people from their sins. Each should fulfil in himself that which is written for all, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious Name is recalled, especially during the sacred Mysteries of the Mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head."

Here's something else worth reminding ourselves about:

The IHS monogram is an abbreviation or shortening of Jesus' name in Greek to the first three letters. Thus ΙΗΣΟΥΣ, ιησυς (iēsus, "Jesus"), is shortened to ΙΗΣ (iota-eta-sigma), sometimes transliterated into Latin or English characters as IHS or ΙΗC.

And, remember, in ancient times it was strongly believed that to know someone's true name gave you access to that person's nature and power. Let us honor this name and cultivate genuine devotion to it - today and always.

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