The month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. 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, reminds us of all He does for us. Let us therefore give that name great honor!
There is a very important connection between devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and His Holy Face. Both represent the Second Person of the Trinity; they both identify the uniqueness of the person. Our Lord actually revealed a strong connection between His Holy Name and His Holy Face to Sister Mary of St. Peter, a French Carmelite nun in the 1840s. Our Lord spoke to her of the need for reparation for sins against the first three commandments, and that honoring the Holy Name and Holy Face would help to do just that. One way to honor both each day? Pray the Golden Arrow Prayer and Reparation prayer.
Interestingly, the first and last days of the octave of Christmas connect the Holy Face and Holy Name devotions. After all, on the first day of Christmas, the Holy Face enters the world. On the eighth day, Jesus was formally given His Holy Name, Jesus, at his circumcision. As one priest I heard recently put it eloquently, “The name of God is salvation.” How beautiful that is to contemplate!
With St. Paul
We can gain new devotion to the Holy Name this January through the wisdom of St. Paul, one of this month’s most powerful saints. The Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul is January 25. This feast day is one that reminds us to grow in our own faith and zeal, as he did.
Saul of Tarsus knew well the importance of a name. Firstly, on the road to Damascus, while Saul was a Pharisee on a mission to persecute Christians, light from heaven came down as Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice ask why Saul was persecuting Him. Saul asked to whom the voice belonged, “and the voice replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting!”(Acts 9:5) The Holy Name of Jesus was paramount in the conversion of Saul!
Secondly, Saul’s own name was changed to Paul after his conversion. After having that life-changing encounter with the risen Christ, he became blind and then miraculously had his vision restored. Soon after, Paul was baptized and began his journey as the Apostle to the Gentiles. This was a man who knew and loved the name of Jesus and had personally encountered Our Lord! It is no wonder he writes so powerfully of the Holy Name.
Here are three quotes written by St. Paul, found in Scripture, that speak to the devotion of the Holy Name and its twin devotion to the Holy Face.
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.” Philippians 2:10
That is a clear directive St. Paul gives us in his letter to the Philippians as to how to respond to the name of God: every knee should bow. And so, if we are to bend our knees at His very name … how much more ought we to show deference, humility, adoration and worship in the posture of our bodies when in the presence of the Eucharist: His body, blood, soul, and divinity! St. Paul is a great source of inspiration for showing our devotion in the way we physically respond before God: from getting in the habit of bowing our heads when we say the name “Jesus,” to making the sign of the cross when we drive by a church, to kneeling in Adoration.
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12
Face to face is how we will see God in heaven. Let us honor the Holy Face and the Holy Name of Jesus while we are still on earth, so that we can look forward to meeting His glorious gaze in heaven. The scales upon our eyes of faith must be removed! In fact, we might venture to say that our devotion to the Holy Name and the Holy Face can help our dim mirror be, well, a bit less dim!
“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6
This quote from St. Paul has it all: reference to the Holy Face and the Holy Name, the glory of God “in the face of Jesus Christ.” This makes it a great quote to contemplate as a Lectio Divina exercise this January. How awesome it is that the God of Genesis who commanded the light, the great I Am, is the God of the Gospels who shows us His Holy Face and reveals to us His Holy Name.
There are many ways we can honor the Holy Name of Jesus even more this January – here are some specific suggestions. We can also get a Holy Hour dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus and invoking the intercession of St. Paul by signing up here.
And how can we become more like St. Paul this month? Well, in St. Paul’s honor, we can become more zealous for the faith. After all, St. Paul had the scales removed from his eyes as he saw the error of his former ways, and converted from persecuting Christians to following Christ, leading many more to Him.
Let us then examine our consciences with more honesty; asking God to show us the ways we need to strive more in our spiritual lives and to grant the graces that we need. We can challenge ourselves in this new year to give more to God. If we know someone who is searching in their faith, we can help show them the way. We can send money to missionaries doing holy work; drop supplies off to our church pantry; forgive a grudge; bear wrongs patiently.
After the example of the great St. Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, let us spread the Gospel, whether with words or by example. Most importantly of all, let us honor the Holy Name of Jesus with the way we live our lives, giving all glory to God.
And in the words of the Golden Arrow Prayer, “May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most mysterious and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in heaven on earth and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the altar. Amen.”
St. Paul, pray for us!