What the month of January means to Catholics and how to honor it in your home.
Did you know that in the Catholic Church, each month of the year has a devotional theme? January is the month of the Holy Name of Jesus, and it’s an ideal time to strengthen our connection to the beautiful name of our Lord. In fact, all names are to be treated with respect. Do you know the meaning of your own name? It’s interesting to discover. A name is an emblem of one’s dignity but the name of Jesus in particular should be held in the highest regard; spoken and heard only in a sacred way.
The beautiful name “Jesus” means, “God saves.” So the name of Jesus is not only the name of our Savior but also, by its meaning, states the purpose of His existence, reminding us of the incredible blessing of salvation. Let us therefore give that name great honor! Also, let us remember that Jesus’s name in Aramaic is “Yeshua” So that is what Jesus was called in his own native language (the name Joshua is derived from this name, too).
Continuing our monthly series on ways to showcase each month’s Catholic theme in your life, here are 10 ways you can honor the Holy Name of Jesus this January.
1Take a stand against taking the Lord's name in vain.
Turn the channel, turn off the television, or walk out of the movie theater when you hear God’s name taken in vain, which has become all too frequent. Vow never to take the Lord’s name in vain (sounds like a perfect New Year’s resolution!) and to make reparation immediately if you accidentally do or if you hear someone else do so. How can you make reparation? One way is to have this perfect aspirational prayer at the ready (it’s so easy to memorize): “Admirable is the name of God.” That prayer of praise for the Holy Name of God given to Sr. Marie of St. Peter is also a prayer of reparation for blasphemy.
2Bow your head when you hear the name of Jesus.
Adopt the pious practice (that used to be more widely practiced and is so meaningful and fitting) of bowing your head whenever you say or hear the name of Jesus (just as we should bow or genuflect before the Real Presence in the tabernacle or make a sign of the cross as we pass a Catholic Church). Scripture tells us: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth” (Phil 2:10). The Council of Lyons in 1274 stated: “Each should fulfill 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.” This devotion also helps to make amends for blasphemous use of the Holy Name.
3Decorate your table
Decorate in colors of white (first half of January is the liturgical season of Christmas, represented by liturgical color of white for purity) and green (second half of January begins ordinary time with the liturgical color green representing hope as a sprouting seed) and the letters IHS, perhaps decorated and framed. You can make this yourself with colored pencils, or gold and silver markers. IHS is a Christogram (combination of letters representing the Holy Name). St. Bernardino, a saint devoted to the Holy Name of Jesus, would hold up the monogram of Christ’s Name — the letters “IHS” (surrounded by rays — for veneration. Why not try this in your own home?
4Celebrate the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus on January 3 by going to Mass or Eucharistic Adoration.
As you pray, try paying special attention to these words of the Our Father, “hallowed be Thy Name,” and purpose to live according to that teaching: helping to keep holy the name of God.
5Write his name on your house - literally!
As Mary’s son is adored and worshiped by the three Wise Men, let us adore him, too. Literally write the name of Christ upon your house as you celebrate Epiphany! For the Feast of the Epiphany, it is beautiful to bless your home with the “CMB” written in chalk over your front door, which not only stands for Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, the traditional names of the three kings, but is also an abbreviation of “Christus mansionem benedicat“ (may Christ bless the house). And when the blessing of the house is done, why not enjoy some Epiphany Cake, otherwise known as King Cake in New Orleans (in France, Galette des Rois), to usher in the Mardi Gras season that will lead up to Shrove Tuesday, just before the start of Lent. Recipes abound online. Here’s a good one.
6Daily ask for Mary and Joseph's intercession.
The name of Jesus, which means Savior, was revealed to Joseph in a dream and to Our Lady at the Annunciation. Pray to Joseph and Mary to increase your love for their Son, along with your reverence for His Holy Name.
7Add a special prayer this month.
Pray or begin a novena to St. Bernardine of Siena, who had a special devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. Or pray one of the prayers to the Holy Name of Jesus found here. Or pray the Golden Arrow Prayer in reparation for blasphemies against His Most Holy Name.