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Hallowed by Thy Name

St. Thomas Aquinas

"Hallowed by Thy Name." This is the first petition that we address to God, in which we ask Him to manifest and make known His Name among us. Now the name of the Lord is most admirable because it works wonders in all living things; for as it says in the last chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew, "they cast out demons in my Name." Secondly, it is most lovable. As it says in the fourth chapter of Acts: "there is no other Name under the sun by which we can be saved." Now everyone should love salvation. An example of this is furnished by St. Ignatius of Antioch who so greatly loved the Name of Jesus Christ that when Trojan demanded of him that he deny this Name, he replied that it was not possible for this name to be taken from his lips. When they threatened to cut off his head to prevent him from repeating it, he cried out that though they might stop his lips by cutting off his head, they could never efface the Name from his heart, for it was written there, and that was why he could not stop invoking it. Trojan listened to what he said, and wishing to verify it in detail, cut off his head and afterwards removed the heart of this servant of God and he found written on it in letters of gold, the Name of Jesus Christ, for this Name was as it were placed as a seal on his heart.

Thirdly, this name is most worthy of veneration. The Apostle says in his Letter to the Philippians, "in the Name of Jesus every knee shall bend, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth." In heaven by the angels and the saints; on earth by those people in the world who do it for love of the glory that they bring to themselves, and on account of the fear of chastisement that they wish to avoid; and in hell by the damned on account of the fear it inspires in them.

Fourth, this Name is inexplicable, for no tongue is capable of explaining it. This is moreover why on certain occasions one has recourse to natural things to explain it. One can for instance give Him the name of "rock" in order to express the quality of stability. It is written in Matthew 16: "on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail. . . ." He is also named "fire" on account of fire's quality of purifying, for the Name is a means of purifying the hearts of sinners just as it purifies metal. This is why it says in the fourth chapter of Deuteronomy that "the Lord you God is a consuming fire." He is also given the name of "light" because he is the source of illumination, for just s the torch disperses shadows, so also does He illuminate the shadows of the soul. It is thus written in Psalm 17: "O Lord, scatter the shadows that envelope me." Now these things are asked that this Name might be manifest, known, and considered Holy.

Now Holiness has three qualities. First, it signifies the quality of stability, whish is why the blessed in heaven are called saints, for they are firmly established in eternal happiness. The saints cannot live for ever on this earth, for this world is always in motion. Thus St. Augustine says: "I am estranged from you O Lord, I have greatly erred and I have wandered from your stability."

Secondly, Holy means other-worldly such as is the quality of the saints in heaven who have no earthly attachment. The Apostle says on this subject in the Epistle to the Philippians 3: "I have considered all things as dung . . . etc." Now the world signifies sin which is appropriate first of all because of its nature. The earth in effect, if not cultivated, produces only thorns and thistles — so also the soul of the sinner, if not cultivated, produces only the thorns of tribulations and the barbs of sin — as it says in Genesis 3: "she produces thorns and thistles." The earth also signifies sin because it symbolizes the clouding of the spirit, for the earth is dark and full of shadows which is also characteristic of the sinner — as it says in Genesis 1: "and darkness was on the face of the earth." Thirdly, it does so because of its material nature, for the earth is in effect a dry material that does not give forth its fruits unless it receives moisture from the waters; for God has established the earth upon the waters — as it says in Psalm 91: "who has established the earth upon the waters.” The dryness and aridity of the earth is circumscribed by the waters just as the soul of the sinner is dry and arid as we understand from the words of Psalm 142: “my soul is for you like the earth without water.”

Finally, Holy implies “covered with blood,” which is why the saints are so described, for it says in the Apocalypse [Revelation] 7: they are covered with blood – “those they are who have undergone the great tribulations and have their robes washed in the blood of the Lamb,” and again, as it says elsewhere, “He has washed our sins in His blood.”

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