My dear friends,
If you own an old Roman Missal or the original English Hymnal you will find propers and hymns respectively for the Feast of the Holy Name on the seventh of August. I can find no reference as to how this came about but in my searching discovered that the Devotion is largely attributed to S Bernadine (1380—1444) and was celebrated on various dates in January since the 15th Century. January because of the cycle of Christmass events which included the Octave Day of Christmass as The Circumcision of the Lord, at which according to custom he was named: in Common Worship,
January 1st is still observed as ‘The Naming and Circumcision of Christ’ whereas in the Western Rite since 1969 it is now celebrated as ‘Mary Mother of God.’ The name Jesus is frequently interpreted as ‘God Saves’ and certainly has roots in Hebrew and Greek linking it to the verb ‘To deliver’ in the form of rescue. A feast in honour of The Holy Name was restored in the 2002 Missal on January 3rd and the whole month remains dedicated to the devotion.
In Catholic liturgy many are mesmerised at Biretta doffing during Mass, three doffs at the mention of the Holy Name and then the Biretta remains off. My first boss reminded me of his father's custom therefore of mentioning the Holy Name three times in the first three sentences of a sermon so that clergy could then concentrate on what was being said instead of counting! I do not bemoan the loss of Birettas in Liturgy but perhaps a New Year Resolution to return to the age old custom of bowing the head at the mention of the Holy Name could make a come-back as a mark of respect and aid to devotion.
“How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear, it calms his sorrows, heals his wounds and drives away his fears.”
Fr Andrew joins me in wishing you good health and much happiness for the New Year.
With my love and prayers,
Fr. Trevor Buxton