|This Feast is associated with the Feast of the Circumcision, for it is
when a child was circumcized that he received a name and was accepted
as a son of Abraham and a full member of his family (the Feast of the
Holy Family will come soon, after the Feast of the Epiphany on the
6th). So honored is His Holy Name that devout Catholics bow their heads
(men removing their hats) at the sound of "Jesus" (or "Iesus" in
Latin), both inside and outside of the liturgy. To protect the
sacredness and honor due the Holy Name, when hearing the Name of the
Lord taken in vain, it is right to pray "Sit nomen Dómini benedíctum!"
( "Blessed be the Name of the Lord"), to which the reply, if overheard,
is "Ex hoc nunc, et usque in sæculum!" ("from this time forth for
While there are no special customs that I am aware of, it is so that if
we utter His Name with devotion, we receive a partial indulgence. A plenary indulgence, under
the usual conditions, may be received if we visit a church or chapel on
this day. A good thing to do to fulfill these conditions is to recite
the Litany of the Holy Name, especially
in a church or chapel.
And here are the thoughts of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (who wrote the
hymn "Iesu Dulcis Memoria" which is sung today) on the most holy Name
The sweet Name
of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble
sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure
affections. All spiritual food leaves the soul dry, if it contain not
that penetrating oil, the Name Jesus. When you take your pen, write the
Name Jesus: if you write books, let the Name of Jesus be contained in
them, else they will possess no charm or attraction for me; you may
speak, or you may reply, but if the Name of Jesus sounds not from your
lips, you are without unction and without charm. Jesus is honey in our
mouth, light in our eyes, a flame in our heart. This name is the cure
for all diseases of the soul. Are you troubled? think but of Jesus,
speak but the Name of Jesus, the clouds disperse, and peace descends
anew from heaven. Have you fallen into sin? so that you fear death?
invoke the Name of Jesus, and you will soon feel life returning. No
obduracy of the soul, no weakness, no coldness of heart can resist this
holy Name; there is no heart which will not soften and open in tears at
this holy name. Are you surrounded by sorrow and danger? invoke the
Name of Jesus, and your fears will vanish.
Never yet was human being in urgent need, and on the point of
perishing, who invoked this help-giving Name, and was not powerfully
sustained. It was given us for the cure of all our ills; to soften the
impetuosity of anger, to quench the fire of concupiscence, to conquer
pride, to mitigate the pain of our wounds, to overcome the thirst of
avarice, to quiet sensual passions, and the desires of low pleasures.
If we call to our minds the Name of Jesus, it brings before us His most
meek and humble heart, and gives us a new knowledge of His most loving
and tender compassion. The Name of Jesus is the purest, and holiest,
the noblest and most indulgent of names, the Name of all blessings and
of all virtues; it is the Name of the God-Man, of sanctity itself. To
think of Jesus is to think of the great, infinite God Who, having given
us His life as an example, has also bestowed the necessary
understanding, energy and assistance to enable us to follow and imitate
Him, in our thoughts, inclinations, words and actions. If the Name of
Jesus reaches the depths of our heart, it leaves heavenly virtue there.
We say, therefore, with our great master, St. Paul the Apostle: If any
man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.
Read more about
devotion to the Holy Name here.