By Colleen Pressprich
On January 3, Catholics around the world celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, though the entire month of January is dedicated to this devotion. Devotion to the Holy Name within the Catholic Church dates back to the 15th century. The feast was removed from the liturgical calendar after the Second Vatican Council and reinstituted by Pope John Paul II during his papacy.
Why a Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus?
Jesus’ Name reminds us of His very nature: Jesus means “God saves.”
In John 16:23, Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of my Father, He will give it to you in My Name.” It is clear throughout the whole of the New Testament that Jesus’ name has power. But a devotion to the Holy Name is more than just adding “in Jesus’ name” to the end of our prayers.
One way that Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians have traditionally expressed a devotion to the Holy Name is by using the Jesus Prayer. It’s a simple prayer that is meant to be repeated throughout the day, drawing us closer and closer to the Lord:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
For me, the beauty of this prayer is in its simplicity. It makes clear who God is and also who I am in relationship with Him. It reminds me that I need mercy, and points me to the One who can give it.
Did you know?
The emblem IHS, which is often seen in churches or on medals is actually a Christogram, a way of writing the name of Jesus. It dates back to the 3rd century when Christians needed a way to signal their faith to each other secretly. They shortened the Holy Name of Jesus to its first three letters, which were written in Greek. Later, St. Ignatius would take the monogram IHS to represent his new order, the Jesuits.
How to honor the Holy Name of Jesus as a family this January
There are many ways to grow in your devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus this January. A few options I love are:
- Start the habit of praying the Jesus prayer: It’s a simple prayer that can easily slide into your family’s schedule at multiple points: say it when you get in the car, or before walking out the door, pray it before you get out of bed or when you get home from school.
- Pray the Litany of the Holy Name: This ancient prayer of the Church is a powerful one that allows us to meditate on the mercy of Christ. It’s a wonderful addition to family prayer time in January.
- Praise and worship songs: Praise and Worship songs are another great way to grow in devotion to the Name of Jesus because so many of them are designed to do just that- praise His Holy Name. Perhaps in January, your family could commit to listening to praise and worship in the car or while you work around the house. There are some really great, child-friendly praise and worship songs available as audio downloads from Brother Francis here.
- Learn Philippians 2:9-11 by heart: “9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This passage from Scripture is the perfect one to memorize during January.
- Color an IHS monogram: Coloring and doodling can be forms of meditative prayer. Print out IHS monograms to color in or draw and decorate your own. Hang up your art to remind your family to always keep the Name of Jesus close.
Happy New Year and Happy Month of the Holy Name of Jesus.
Colleen Pressprich is a homeschooling mom of five and the author of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children, The Women Doctors of the Church, and The Jesse Tree For Families. You can learn more about her, order her books, and read more of her writing at elevatortoheaven.com.