The Holy Name of Jesus
Adoration of the Holy Name of Jesus - by El Greco -
We give honor to the Name of Jesus, not because we believe that there is any intrinsic power hidden in the letters composing it, but because the Name of Jesus reminds us of all the blessings we receive through our Holy Redeemer. To give thanks for these blessings we revere the Holy Name, as we honor the Passion of Christ by honoring His Cross. At the Holy Name of Jesus we uncover our heads, and we bend our knees; it is at the head of all our undertakings, as the Emperor Justinian says in his Law-Book: "In the Name of Our Lord Jesus we begin all our consultations". The Name of Jesus invoked with confidence:
brings help in bodily needs, according to the promise of Christ: "In My name They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover". (Mark 16:17,18.) In the Name of Jesus the Apostles gave strength to the lame (Acts 3:6; 9:34) and life to the dead (Acts 9:40).
It gives consolation in spiritual trials. The Name of Jesus reminds the sinner of the Prodigal Son's Father and of the Good Samaritan; it recalls to the Just the suffering and death of the innocent Lamb of God.
It protects us against Satan and his wiles, for the Devil fears the Name of Jesus, Who has conquered him on the Cross.
In the Name of Jesus we obtain every blessing and grace for time and eternity, for Christ has said: "If you ask the Father anything in My name He will give it you." (John 16:23) Therefore the Church concludes all her prayers by the words: "Through Our Lord Jesus Christ", etc.
So the Word-of Saint Paul is fulfilled: "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Philippians 2:10).
A special lover of the Holy Name was Saint Bernard, who speaks of it in most glowing terms in many of his sermons. But the greatest promoters of this devotion were Saint Bernardine of Siena and Saint John Capistran. They carried with them on their missions in the turbulent cities of Italy a copy of the monogram of the Holy Name, surrounded by rays, painted on a wooden tablet, wherewith they blessed the sick and wrought great miracles. At the close of their sermons they exhibited this emblem to the faithful and asked them to prostrate themselves, to adore the Redeemer of mankind. They recommended their hearers to have the monogram of Jesus placed over the gates of their cities and above the doors of their dwelling. Because the manner in which Saint Bernardine preached this devotion was new, he was accused by his enemies, and brought before the Tribunal of Pope Martin V. But Saint John Capistran defended his master so successfully that the Pope not only permitted the worship of the Holy Name, but also assisted at a procession in which the holy monogram was carried. The tablet used by Saint Bernardine is venerated at Santa Maria in Ara Coeli at Rome.
The emblem or monogram representing the Holy Name of Jesus consists of the three letters: IHS. In the Middle Ages the Name of Jesus was written: IHESUS; the monogram contains the first and last letter of the Holy Name. It is first found on a gold coin of the eight century: DN IHS CHS REX REGNANTIUM (The Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings). Some erroneously say that the three letters are the initials of: "Jesus Hominum Salvator" (Jesus Savior of Men). The Jesuits made this monogram the emblem of their Society, adding a cross over the H and three nails under it. Consequently a new explanation of the emblem was invented, pretending that the nails originally were a "V", and that the monogram stands for "In Hoc Signo Vinces" (In This Sign you shall Conquer), the words which, according to a legendary account, Constantine saw in the heavens under the Sign of the Cross before the battle at the Milvian bridge (312).
"In Hoc Signo Vinces" - (In This Sign you shall Conquer)
We shall consider the two words which compose the Sacred Name:
JESUS: The word Jesus is the Latin form of the Greek Iesous, which in turn is the transliteration of the Hebrew Jeshua, or Joshua, or again Jehoshua, meaning "Jehovah is salvation". Though the name in one form or another occurs frequently in the Old Testament, it was not borne by a person of prominence between the time of Josue, the son of Nun and Josue, the high priest in the days of Zorobabel. It was also the name of the author of Ecclesiaticus of one of Christ's ancestors mentioned in the genealogy, found in the Third Gospel (Luke 3:29), and one of the St Paul's companions (Colossians 4:11). During the Hellenizing period, Jason, a purely Greek analogon of Jesus, appears to have been adopted by many. The Greek name is connected with verb iasthai, to heal; it is therefore, not surprising that some of the Greek Fathers allied the word Jesus with same root. Though about the time of Christ the name Jesus appears to have been fairly common it was imposed on our Lord by God's express order (Luke 1:31; Matthew 1:21), to foreshow that the Child was destined to "save His people from their sins".
CHRIST: The word Christ, Christos, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah, means "anointed". According to the Old Law, Priests, Kings, and Prophets were supposed to be anointed for their respective offices; now, the Christ, or the Messiah, combined this threefold dignity in His Person. It is not surprising, therefore, that for centuries the Jews had referred to their expected Deliverer as "The Anointed". Thus the term Christ or Messiah was a title rather than a proper name. Only after the Resurrection did the title gradually pass into a proper name, and the expression Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus became only one designation.
Holy God, we praise thy name;
Lord of all, we bow before thee!
All on earth they scepter claim,
All in heaven above adore thee;
Infinite they vast domain,
Everlasting is thy reign.
Hark, the loud celestial hymn;
Angel choirs above are raising.
Cherubim and Seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising,
Fill the heav'ns with sweet accord:
"Holy, holy, holy, Lord!"
Lo! The apostolic train
Join the sacred name to hallow;
Prophets swell the loud refrain,
And the white-robed martyrs follow;
And from morn- to set of sun,
Through the Church the song goes on.
Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we 'claim Thee;
And adoring bend the knee,
While we own the mystery.