[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“Happy New Year.”
Most of us start the New Year off with that greeting. In the church, we also start the New Year with another form of greeting: praising the most holy name of Jesus. On Jan. 1, the church honors Mary the Mother of God, with a solemnity.
However, on the same day, it also honors the circumcision of the Lord, which took place on the eighth day of his life. The Gospel reading for Jan. 1 (Lk 2:16-21) also mentions it, along with the giving of Jesus’ name: “When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”
That name was “Jesus.”
The church also honors the name of Jesus with an optional memorial Mass, which this year falls on Jan. 3. In fact, the entire month of January is devoted to honoring “The Most Holy Name of Jesus.”
God himself gave this name to Jesus — just as he named Adam, Abraham and Sarah, all pivotal people in salvation history. Jesus’ name, however, is not only what he was called, but the name also expresses what he came to do. As the angel told Joseph: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21).
The name of Jesus is powerful, in and of itself. As St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who lived in the 12th century, wrote about “The 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.”
Some of us can remember a time when Christians would automatically bow their heads when the name of Jesus was spoken. You will still see this at Mass when the priest and those ministering at the altar bow slightly at the name: “Jesus Christ.” This follows the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians: “At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth …” (2:10).
However, as we all know, the name of Jesus is not always spoken with reverence. On purpose, or inadvertently, Jesus’ name is sometimes spoken in anger. This is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the misuse of Jesus’ name was so common in the late 18th century, especially among Italian sailors, that a Jesuit priest decided to do something about it.
In 1797, Fr. Luigi Felici composed the Divine Praises as a way for people to make amends, or reparation, for either using or hearing profanity or blasphemy. The story is that the Divine Praises were first used in the Church of Santa Maria in Cappella in Trastavere, Italy, where a guild of sailors held regular meetings. The Divine Praises, perhaps better known in Latin as Laudes Divinae, were first written in Italian for use by the common people.
Some added later
The Divine Praises begin: “Blessed be God. Blessed be his holy name. Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.” Further praises honor the Holy Spirit, the sacrament of the altar, the angels and Mary, the Mother of God. Praises honoring Mary’s Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Joseph were added about 150 years later.
Today, the Divine Praises are most often used after the Benediction following Eucharistic Adoration. It is not required that they be said at this time, but it has become customary. The celebrant recites each of the praises and which is then repeated by the congregation.
While you might not be able to remember all the Divine Praises by heart, it might be a blessing to recite at least one or two whenever you find yourself using, or hearing, a less than holy use of the name of God or of Jesus. It could be just a little saving grace in the midst of everyday life.
Sources: zenit.org; usccb.org; catholicculture.org; australiaincognita.blogspot.com; “The Divine Praises” at thetablet.co.uk; fisheaters.com; “The Catholic Encyclopedia”; and “The Church’s Year of Grace.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_message color=”alert-info” style=”rounded”]The Divine Praises
Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus.
Blessed be His Most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be His Most Precious Blood
Blessed be Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most Holy.
Blessed be her Holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her Glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the Name of Mary, Virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.