THE SAINTS AND THE HOLY NAME
All the Saints had an immense love for and trust in the Name of Jesus. They saw in this name, as in a clear vision, all the love of Our Lord, all His Power, all the beautiful things He said and did when on earth.
They did all their wonderful works in the Name of Jesus. They worked miracles, cast out devils, cured the sick and gave comfort to everyone, using and recommending to all the habit of invoking the Holy Name. St. Peter and the Apostles converted the world with this all-powerful Name.
The Prince of the Apostles began his glorious career preaching the love of Jesus to the Jews in the streets, in the Temple, in their synagogues. His first striking miracle occurred on the first Pentecost Sunday when he was going into the Temple with St. John. A lame man, well known to the Jews, who frequented the Temple, stretched out his hand expecting to receive an alms. St. Peter said to him: "Silver and gold I have none; but what I have, I give thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise, and walk." (Acts 3:6).
And instantly the lame man bounded to his feet and leaped for joy.
The Jews were astonished, but the great Apostle said to them: Why your wonder and surprise, as if we made this man sound by our own power? No, it is by the power of Jesus that this man walks.
Innumerable times since the days of the Apostles has the Name of Jesus been glorified.
We will quote a few of these countless examples, which show us how the Saints derived all their strength and consolation from the Name of Jesus.
St. Paul was in a very special way the preacher and doctor of the Holy Name. At first he was a fierce persecutor of the Church, moved by a false zeal and hatred for Christ. Our Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus and converted him, making him the great Apostle of the Gentiles and giving him his glorious mission, which was to preach and make known His Holy Name to princes and kings, to Jews and Gentiles, to all nations and peoples.
St. Paul, filled with a burning love for Our Lord, began his great mission – uprooting paganism, casting down the false idols, confounding the philosophers of Greece and Rome, fearing no enemies and conquering all difficulties – all in the Name of Jesus.
St. Thomas Aquinas says of him: "St. Paul bore the Name of Jesus on his forehead because he gloried in proclaiming it to all men; he bore it on his lips because he loved to invoke it; on his hands, for he loved to write it in his epistles; in his heart, for his heart burned with love of it. He tells us himself: "I live, yet not I, but Christ, liveth in me."
St. Paul tells us in his own beautiful way two great truths about the Name of Jesus.
First of all, he tells us of the infinite power of this Name. "In the Name of Jesus every knee shall bend in Heaven, on Earth and in Hell."
Every time we say, "Jesus," we give infinite joy to God, to all Heaven, to God's Blessed Mother and to the Angels and Saints.
Secondly, he tells us how to use it. "Whatever you do in word or in work, do all in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ." He adds: Whether you eat or whether you drink, or whatever else you do, do all in the Name of Jesus.
This advice all the Saints followed, so that their every act was done for love of Jesus, and therefore their every act and thought won them graces and merits. It was by this Name that they became Saints. If we follow this same advice of the Apostle, we too shall reach a very high degree of sanctity.
How are we to do everything in the Name of Jesus? By acquiring the habit, as we have said, of repeating the Name of Jesus frequently in the course of the day. This presents no difficulty – it only demands good will.
St. Augustine, the great Doctor of the Church, found his delight in repeating the Holy Name. He himself tells us that he found much pleasure in books which made frequent mention of this all-consoling Name.
St. Bernard felt a wonderful joy and consolation in repeating the Name of Jesus. He felt it, as he says, like honey in his mouth and a delicious peace in his heart. We too shall feel immense consolation and shall feel peace steal into our souls if we imitate St. Bernard and repeat frequently this Holy Name.
St. Dominic spent his days preaching and discussing with heretics. He always went on foot from place to place, as well in the oppressive heats of the summer as in the cold and rain of winter. The Albigensian heretics, whom he tried to convert, were more like demons let loose from Hell than mortal men. Their doctrine was infamous and their crimes enormous. Yet, as another St. Paul, he converted 100,000 of these wicked men, so that many of them became eminent for sanctity. Wearied at night with his labors, he asked only for one reward, which was to pass the night before the Blessed Sacrament, pouring out his soul in love for Jesus. When his poor body could resist no longer, he leaned his head against the altar and rested a little, after which he began once more his intimate converse with Jesus. In the morning, he celebrated Mass with the ardor of a seraph so that at times his body was raised in the air in an ecstasy of love. The Name of Jesus filled his soul with joy and delight.
Blessed Jordan of Saxony, who succeeded St. Dominic as Master General of the Order, was a preacher of great renown. His words went straight to the heart of the hearers, above all when he spoke to them of Jesus.
Learned professors of the university cities came with delight to hear him, and so many of them became Dominican friars that others feared to come, lest they too should be induced to join his order. So many were drawn by Blessed Jordan's irresistible eloquence that, when his visit to a city was announced, the prior of the convent bought at once a great quantity of white cloth to make habits for those who were sure to seek entrance to the Order. Blessed Jordan himself received one thousand postulants to the habit, among whom were the most eminent professors of the European universities.
St. Francis of Assisi, that burning Seraph of love, found his delight in repeating the loved Name of Jesus. St. Bonaventure says that his face lit up with joy and his voice showed by its tender accents how much he loved to invoke this all-Holy Name.
No wonder, then, that he received on his hands and feet and side the marks of the five wounds of Our Lord, a reward of his burning love.2
St. Ignatius of Loyola was second to none in his love for the Holy Name. He gave to his great order not his own name, but rather he called it the "Society of Jesus." This divine Name has been, as it were, a shield and defense of the Order against its enemies and a guarantee of the holiness and sanctity of its members. Glorious, indeed is the great Society of Jesus.
St. Francis de Sales has no hesitation in saying that those who have the custom of repeating the Holy Name frequently may feel certain of dying a holy and happy death.
And indeed there can be no doubt of this, because every time we say, "Jesus," we apply the saving Blood of Jesus to our souls, while at the same time we implore God to do as He has promised, granting us everything we ask in His Name. All who desire a holy death can secure it by repeating the Name of Jesus. Not only will this practice obtain for us a holy death, but it will lessen notably our time in Purgatory and may very possibly deliver us altogether from that dreadful fire.
Many Saints spent their last days repeating constantly, "Jesus, Jesus."
All the Doctors of the Church agree in telling us that the devil reserves his fiercest temptations for our last moments, and then he fills the mind of the dying person with doubts, fears and dreadful temptations – in the hope, at last, of carrying the unfortunate soul to Hell. Happy those who in life have made sure of acquiring the habit of calling on the Name of Jesus.
Facts like these we have just mentioned are to be found in the lives of all the great servants of God who became saints and reached the highest degrees of sanctity by this simple and easy means.
St. Vincent Ferrer, one of the most famous preachers that the world has ever heard, converted the most abandoned criminals and transformed them into the most fervent Christians. He converted 80,000 Jews and 70,000 Moors, a prodigy we read of in the life of no other Saint. Three miracles are demanded by the Church for the canonization of a Saint; whereas in the bull of canonization of St. Vincent, 873 are mentioned.
This great Saint burned with love for the Name of Jesus and with this Divine Name worked extraordinary wonders.
We, therefore, sinful as we are, can, with this Omnipotent Name, obtain every favor and every grace. The weakest mortals can become strong, the most afflicted find in it consolation and joy.
Who then can be so foolish or negligent as not to acquire the habit of repeating, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus," constantly. It robs us of no time, presents no difficulty and is an infallible remedy for every evil.
Blessed Goncalo of Amarante reached a very eminent degree of sanctity by the frequent repetition of the Holy Name.
Blessed Giles of Santarem felt so much love and delight in saying the Holy Name that he was raised in the air in ecstasy.
Those who repeat frequently the Name of Jesus feel a great peace in their soul, "that peace which the world cannot give," which God alone gives, a peace "that surpasses all understanding."
St. Leonard of Port Maurice cherished a tender devotion to the Name of Jesus and in his continual missions taught the people who thronged to listen to him the wonders of the Holy Name. This he did with such love that tears flowed from his eyes and from the eyes of all who heard him.
He begged them to put a card with this Divine Name on their doors. This was attended with the happiest results, for many were thus saved from sickness and disasters of various kinds.
One, unfortunately, was prevented from doing so, since a Jew, who was part-owner of the house in which he lived, sternly refused to have the Name of Jesus placed on the door. His fellow-lodger then decided that he would write it on his windows, which he accordingly did. Some days after, a fierce fire broke out in the building, which destroyed all the apartments belonging to the Jew; whereas, the rooms belonging to his Christian neighbor in no way suffered from the conflagration.
This fact was made public and increased a hundredfold faith and trust in the Holy Name of our Saviour. In fact, the whole city of Ferrajo was a witness of this extraordinary protection.
St. Edmund had special devotion to the Name of Jesus, which Our Lord Himself taught him.
One day when he was in the country and separated from his companions, a beautiful child stood by him and asked, "Edmund, do you not know me?" Edmund answered that he did not. Then replied the child, "Look at me and you will see who I am." Edmund looked as he was bidden and saw written on the Child's forehead, "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." "Know now who I am," said the Child. "Every night make the Sign of the Cross and say these words: 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.' If you do so, this prayer will deliver you and all who say it from sudden and unprovided-for deaths."
Edmund faithfully did as Our Lord told him. The devil once tried to prevent him and held his hands so that he could not make the holy sign. Edmund invoked the Name of Jesus, and the devil fled in terror, leaving him unmolested in the future.
Many people practice this easy devotion and so save themselves from unhappy deaths. Others, with their forefinger, imprint with holy water on their foreheads the four letters, "I.N.R.I.," to signify Jesus Nazarenus, Rex Judaeorum, the words written by Pilate for the Cross of Our Lord.
St. Alphonsus earnestly recommends both these devotions.
St. Frances of Rome enjoyed the extraordinary privilege of constantly seeing and speaking to her Angel Guardian. When she pronounced the Name of Jesus, the Angel was radiant with happiness and bent down in loving adoration.
Sometimes the devil dared to appear to her, seeking to frighten her and do her harm. But when she pronounced the Holy Name, he was filled with rage and hatred and fled in terror from her presence.
St. Jane Frances de Chantal, that most lovable friend of St. Francis de Sales, had many beautiful devotions taught her by this holy Doctor, who for many years acted as her spiritual adviser. She so loved the Name of Jesus that she actually wrote it with a hot iron on her breast. Blessed Henry Suso had done the same with a pointed steel rod.
We may not aspire to this holy daring; we may with reason lack the courage of inscribing the Holy Name on our breast. This needs a special inspiration from God. But we may follow the example of another dear Saint, viz., Blessed Catherine of Racconigi, a daughter of St. Dominic, who repeated frequently and lovingly the Name of Jesus, so that after her death, the Name of Jesus was found engraved in letters of gold on her heart. We all can do as she did, and thus the Name of Jesus will be emblazoned on our souls for all Eternity in the sight of the Saints and Angels in Heaven.
St. Gemma Galgani. Almost in our own day this dear girl Saint also had the privilege of frequent and intimate converse with her Angel Guardian. Sometimes the Angel and Gemma entered into a holy contest as to which of them could say more lovingly the Name of Jesus.
Her interviews with the dear Angel were of a simple and familiar nature. She chatted with him, gazed on his face, asked him many questions, to which he replied with ineffable love and affection.
He took messages from her to Our Lord, to the Blessed Virgin and the saints and brought her back their answers.
Moreover, this glorious angel took the tenderest care of his protégée. He taught her to pray and mediate, especially on the Passion and sufferings of Our Lord. He gave her admirable counsels and lovingly reproved her when she committed any little faults. Under his guidance, Gemma speedily reached a high degree of perfection.