On the 10th Day of Christmas. the Feast of the Holy Name

On the 10th Day of Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

Sit nomen Dómini benedíctum
Ex hoc nunc, et usque in sæculum
Blessed be the Name of the Lord
from this time forth for evermore

– Psalm 113:2

The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, also known as the Feast of the Baptism, celebrates Jesus’s naming.  In the ancient Jewish tradition, the naming of a male infant would have taken place at the same time as his circumcision eight days after he was born.  Thus it might seem surprising to see this Feast on the 10th Day of Christmas instead of the 8th.  Starting in the 15th century, in fact both the Feast of the Circumcision and the Feast of the Holy Name were celebrated together on the 8th Day of Christmas.  But as discussed here, the Feast of the Circumcision has fallen into papal disfavor and is no longer celebrated.  With that fall from grace, the Feast of the Holy Name was moved from the 8th to the 10th Day of Christmas so as not to conflict with the Solemnity of Mary.

Pope Benedict XVI, in 2006, delivered a poigniant homily on the “Feast of the Baptism.” concentrating on the reality that all parents want their children to thrive:

What happens in Baptism? What do we hope for from Baptism? You have given a response on the threshold of this Chapel:  We hope for eternal life for our children. This is the purpose of Baptism. But how can it be obtained? How can Baptism offer eternal life? What is eternal life?

In simpler words, we might say:  we hope for a good life, the true life, for these children of ours; and also for happiness in a future that is still unknown. We are unable to guarantee this gift for the entire span of the unknown future, so we turn to the Lord to obtain this gift from him.

We can give two replies to the question, “How will this happen?”. This is the first one: through Baptism each child is inserted into a gathering of friends who never abandon him in life or in death because these companions are God’s family, which in itself bears the promise of eternity.

This group of friends, this family of God, into which the child is now admitted, will always accompany him, even on days of suffering and in life’s dark nights; it will give him consolation, comfort and light.

This companionship, this family, will give him words of eternal life, words of light in response to the great challenges of life, and will point out to him the right path to take. This group will also offer the child consolation and comfort, and God’s love when death is at hand, in the dark valley of death. It will give him friendship, it will give him life. And these totally trustworthy companions will never disappear.

No one of us knows what will happen on our planet, on our European Continent, in the next 50, 60 or 70 years. But we can be sure of one thing:  God’s family will always be present and those who belong to this family will never be alone. They will always be able to fall back on the steadfast friendship of the One who is life.

And, thus, we have arrived at the second answer. This family of God, this gathering of friends is eternal, . . .

Do read the entire Homily.

And here are the thoughts of St. Bernard of Clairvaux on the most holy Name of Jesus:

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. All spiritual food leaves the soul dry, if it contain not that penetrating oil, the Name Jesus. When you take your pen, write the Name Jesus: if you write books, let the Name of Jesus be contained in them, else they will possess no charm or attraction for me; you may speak, or you may reply, but if the Name of Jesus sounds not from your lips, you are without unction and without charm. Jesus is honey in our mouth, light in our eyes, a flame in our heart. This name is the cure for all diseases of the soul. Are you troubled? think but of Jesus, speak but the Name of Jesus, the clouds disperse, and peace descends anew from heaven. Have you fallen into sin? so that you fear death? invoke the Name of Jesus, and you will soon feel life returning. No obduracy of the soul, no weakness, no coldness of heart can resist this holy Name; there is no heart which will not soften and open in tears at this holy name. Are you surrounded by sorrow and danger? invoke the Name of Jesus, and your fears will vanish. . . .

And in honor of the Tenth Day of Christmas . . .