Life & Soul Life and Soul

How to … Honour the Holy Name

The feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, which falls on January 3, has been and gone – but the entire month of January is devoted to the Holy Name, so it is a good focus for some simple New Year resolutions. The first is obvious: to avoid the serious sin of taking the Holy Name in vain – for instance by using it as an exclamation of anger or surprise. When you hear others doing so, and don’t feel able to correct them, you can make reparation with a short mental prayer, such as “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Meanwhile, an old custom is to give a slight bow of the head at hearing or speaking the name of Jesus – or of Mary, or (some would add) of the saint of that day.

St Bernardine wrote a prayer to the Holy Name, as did St Bernard (sometimes sung as a hymn). Both, along with the Litany of, Chaplet of, and Novena to the Holy Name, can be found online or in prayer books. Saying the Name reverently is itself a beautiful prayer. Another longstanding devotion is to display the Holy Name, in the form of the letters IHS.