Before I was a Catholic, I didn’t put much stock in the name of Jesus. Sure, I knew that Mary had been told to name her son this by the angel Gabriel. I kind of knew that Isaiah had mentioned a name, and that it was Immanuel which, according to the Matthew, meant “God with us.”
When I became interested in pursuing the vocation of a Christian, though, eventually I ran into material that explored the given name of our savior in-depth. I shared what I had found in the post, Because “And You Shall Name Him יהושע.” Therein, I explored the import of the name of the Christ, and why it matters.
In the past, I’ve also shared the Jesus Prayer in this space, which when all is said and done is built around Our Lord’s name, and the power that it contains and commands. I first stumbled upon this when reading about prayer, took a detour built on the allure of it through J. D. Salinger’s Frannie and Zooey, rode upon it through The Way of a Pilgrim, and shared it again as a way to pray whenever and wherever you happen to be.
Today, I have more thoughts on the name of Jesus to share with you from someone who commands a little more sway than Joe Six-Pack does. These thoughts are by a fellow named Bernard of Clairvaux, a Cistercian, and Doctor of the Church, whom I am found of. There is a little book on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf with the title of Goffine’s Ecclesiastical Year. I love those old books built around the Church ‘s calendar, don’t you? Within it, I found this gem from the pen of St. Bernard,
Remarks of St. Bernard on the Sweet Name of Jesus
The holy name of Jesus produces holy thoughts in us, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, lets good works bloom, and nourishes pure affections. All nourishment leaves our soul dry, if it contains not that penetrating oil, the name Jesus. When you take up your pen, write the name Jesus: you may make books, but if the name of Jesus is not in them, you are without strength and flavor 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.
Yes, it must be owned: Jesus is honey in our mouth, light in our eyes, a flame in our heart. This name is the cure for all the ills of the soul. Art thou troubled? Think but of Jesus, speak but the name of Jesus, the clouds disperse, and peace descends anew from heaven. Hast thou fallen into sin? and doest thou fear the net of death? Invoke the name of Jesus, and soon wilt thou feel life returning. No obduracy of the soul, no weakness, no coldness, resists this holy name; no heart is so closed that it is not moved, and opens not in tears, to the name of Christ Jesus.
Art thou surrounded by sorrow and danger? Invoke the name of Jesus, and thy fears will vanish. Never yet was human being in urgent need, and on the point of perishing, who invoked this helpgiving name, and was not powerfully sustained. It was given us for the cure of all our ills; it softens the impetuosity of anger, the tire of concupiscence, the movements of pride, the smart of our wounds, the thirst of avarice, the sensual passions, and the desires of low pleasures.
If we call it to our minds, the very name of Jesus brings before us the most meek and humble heart of Jesus, and gives us a new knowledge of the most loving and tender compassion that ever yet was seen. The name of Jesus Christ, the purest and holiest, the noblest and most indulgent of men, of the God-Man, of sanctity itself, the name of all blessings and of all virtues! To think of Jesus is to think of the infinite great God, who, while He has given His life as an example to ours, has also given us the needful understanding and energy, and the assistance necessary to enable us to follow and imitate Him, in our thoughts and inclinations, and in our words and actions.
If the name of Jesus reaches the depths of our heart, it leaves heavenly virtue there. We say, therefore, with our great master, St. Paul, the Apostle: If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, (i. Cor. xvi. 22.)
You may find that book on the top of the stacks, along with 958 others, over on the YIMCatholic Bookself. St. Bernard felt so strongly about the Most Holy Name, that he also wrote this hymn, which is being sung in any number of sanctuaries the world over right now.