Invocation of the Most Holy Name of Jesus - ‘A Doctrine on the Holy Name’
With a word God made the world, “Let there be light”. (Gen 1:3). With His word, He called out of nothing the sun, the moon, the stars, the land and the seas. By His word He sustains the whole universe in existence. God’s word alone has infinite power and in His infinite mercy He has also given to His words this infinite power.
God in His immense goodness gives to each of us an all-powerful word with which we can do wonders for Him, for ourselves and for the world. That word is “Jesus.” Paul tells us that it is “a name above all names,” and that “…..in the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bend in Heaven, on earth and under the earth.” i (Phil 2:10)
“Jesus” signifies “God made man”, - the Incarnation “And the Word became flesh.” (Jn 1:14) When the Son of God became man, He was called “Jesus” so that when we say “Jesus” we offer to the Eternal Father the infinite love, the infinite merits of Jesus Christ; in a word, we offer Him His own Divine Son Himself; we offer Him the great Mystery of the Incarnation! i
The invocation of the Holy Name is an important means of applying to ourselves the mystery of the Incarnation. It is a powerful means of union with Our Lord. To be united to Christ in this life is our ultimate goal, it is more blessed than meditation or contemplation. i
A strong analogy exists between the Incarnation of the Word and the indwelling of the Holy Name within us. The Word was made flesh. Jesus became man. The inner reality of the Name of Jesus, having passed into our souls, over flows into our bodies. “…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desire.” (Rom 13:14) The living content of the Name enters physically into ourselves. “Thy Name is as ointment poured forth” (Songs 1:3) The Holy Name, if repeated with faith, love, and devotion, becomes strength able to paralyze and overcome ‘the law of sin which is in my member’. (Rom 7:23). We can also put on ourselves the Name of Jesus as a kind of physical seal keeping our hearts and bodies pure and consecrated. ‘Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm’. (Songs 8:6) This seal is an outward sign and the Name of the living Word. ii
St. Gertrude thanked God often for His goodness in becoming man for the salvation of mankind. Our Lord appeared to her one day and said, “My dear Child, every time you honor My Incarnation with a little prayer, I turn to My Eternal Father and I offer all the merits of the Incarnation for you and for all those who do as you do.” i
Our Lord and Savior has given to us all of His infinite merits so that we can offer them to the Eternal Father as often as we desire. Each time we say “Jesus” with love and devotion, we are offering to Our Father these infinite merits. When we invoke the holy name and say “Jesus” we are offering to God all the infinite love and merits of His Son. We are offering Him His own Divine Son. We cannot offer Him anything holier, anything better, anything more pleasing. Nor can we offer anything more meritorious for ourselves! i
When you say the name of “Jesus”, remember to thank Our Sweet Lord and Savior for His Incarnation.
The Invocation of the Name of Jesus brings the thought of Our Lord and Saviour to our minds. The Name is the symbol and bearer of the Person of Christ. The presence of Jesus is the real content and the substance of the Holy Name. The Name both signifies Jesus’ presence and brings its reality.
This leads to pure adoration. As we pronounce the Name, we should respond to the presence of Our Lord. ‘They…fell down and worshipped Him.’ (Mt 2:11). To pronounce thoughtfully the Name of Jesus is to know the greatness of Our Lord and our nothingness. In this knowledge we shall adore and worship. ii
‘Save me, O God , by thy name.’ (Psalm 54:1) Jesus is present in his Name as a Saviour, for the word ‘Jesus’ means just this: saviour or salvation. ‘ Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.’ ii (Acts 4:12).
The Holy Name can bring about reconciliation after our actual sins. It can give us a more general and fundamental experience of the divine forgiveness. We can pronounce the Name of Jesus and put into it the whole mystery of the atonement. If we link the Name with faith in Jesus as propiation for the sins of all men, we find in the Holy Name the sign of the Redemption extended to all times and to the whole universe. Under this Name we find ‘the lamb slain from the foundation of the world’. (Rev 13:8). ‘the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’ (Jn 1:29). ii
When we invoke the name “Jesus”, we remember Jesus dying on the Cross, for St. Paul tells us that Our Lord merited this most Holy Name by His sufferings and His death. When we say, “Jesus”, we should wish to offer the Passion and Death of Our Lord to the Eternal Father for His greater glory and for our own special intentions. i
Just as Our Lord became man for each one of us, as if each one of us were the only one in existence, so He died, not for all men in general, but for each one in particular. When He was on the Cross, He saw each of us. He offered every pang of His agony, every drop of His Precious Blood, all of His humiliations, all the insults and outrages He received for each one of us!
Every time we invoke the name of “Jesus”, we may offer these merits to the Eternal Father – for ourselves, for the Church, for the pour souls in purgatory, for peace on earth. Indeed, every time we invoke that most glorious name we must remember to thank Our Lord for He has suffered for us. i
The Precious Blood purifies our souls and raises us to a high degree of holiness. We may do the most perfect penance for our sins by offering the Passions and Blood of Jesus to the Eternal Father by simply, lovingly, joyfully, prayerfully, and reverently invoking the name “Jesus”. ii
“This do in remembrance of me.” (Lk 22:19) The mystery of the Upper Room was a summing-up of the whole life and mission of Our Lord. Our soul is also an Upper Room where an invisible Lord’s Supper may be celebrated at any time. Our Lord secretly tells us, as of old: ‘With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you (Lk 22:15) ….Where is the guest-chamber where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples?” (Lk 22:11) …There make ready.’ (Lk 22:12). These words do not solely apply to the visible Lord’s Supper. They also apply to His interior Eucharist, which though only spiritual is very real. In the visible Eucharist Jesus is offered under the sign of bread and wine. In the Eucharist within us He can be signified and designated by His Name alone. Therefore the invocation of the Holy Name may be made by us a Eucharist. ii
Our inner Lord’s Supper will first be a thanksgiving over the great gift – the gift made to us by the Father in the person of His Son. ‘By Him…..let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually….’(Heb 13:15) The Scripture immediately explains the nature of this sacrifice of praise;’…that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name’. So the idea of the Name is linked with that of thanksgiving. Not only may we, while pronouncing Jesus’ Name, thank the Father for having given us His Son or direct our praise towards the Name of the Son Himself, but we may make of the Name of the Son the substance and support of the sacrifice of praise rendered to the Father, the expression of our gratitude and our offering of thanks. ii
Every Eucharist is an offering. ‘That they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness’. (Malachi 3:3) We cannot offer to the Father a better offering than the person of His Son Jesus. This offering alone is worthy of the Father. Our offering of Jesus to His Father is one with the offering which Jesus is eternally making of Himself, for how could we, alone offer Christ? In order to give a concrete shape to our offering we shall find it helpful to pronounce the Name of Jesus. We shall present the Holy Name to God as though it were bread and wine. ii
The Lord, in His Supper, offered to His disciples bread which was broken and wine which was shed. He offered a life which was given, His Body and Blood ready for immolation. When we inwardly offer Jesus to His Father, we shall always offer Him as a victim – both slain and triumphant. ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive…honor, and glory, and blessing’. ii (Rev 5:12)
Let us pronounce the Name of Jesus with the awareness that we are washed and made ‘white in the blood of the Lamb’. (Rev 7:14) This is the sacrificial use of the Holy Name. This does not mean that we think of a new sacrifice of the cross. The Holy Name, sacrificially used, is but a means to apply to us, here and now, the fruits of the oblation once for all made prefect. It helps us, in the exercise of the universal priesthood, to make spiritually actual and present the eternal sacrifice of Christ. The sacrificial use of the Name of Jesus will also remind us that we cannot be one with Jesus, priest and victim, if we do not offer Him, within His Name, our own soul and body; ‘In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure: Then said I, Lo, I come’. ii (Heb. 10:6-7)
Our inner Eucharist is called ‘spiritual communion’, that is, a feeding by faith on the Body and Blood of Christ without using the visible elements of bread and wine. The bread of God is he that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world…..I am that bread of life’. ii (Jn 6:33,48)
We can have a purely spiritual and invisible access to the Body and Blood of Christ. This inner, but very real, mode of approach to Our Lord is something distinct from any other approach to His Person, for here is a special gift and benefit, a special grace, a special relationship between Our Lord, and ourselves. This spiritual communion of the divine Bread of life, of the Body and Blood of the Saviour, becomes easier when it is given expression in the Holy Name, receiving from the Name of Jesus its shape, its frame and support. We can pronounce the Name of Our Lord with the special intention of feeding our soul on it. Such a spiritual communion may be renewed as often as we desire. ii
It is hoped that everybody who follows the way of the Name may experience that the Name of Jesus is a spiritual food and communicated to hungry souls the Bread of life. ‘Lord evermore give us this bread’. (Jn 6:34) In this bread, in this Name, we find ourselves united with all those that share in the same messianic meal: ‘We being many are one bread and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread’. ii (1 Cor 10:17)
The ‘eucharistic’ use of the name of Jesus leads us to its ‘eschatological’ use, that is, to the invocation of the Name in connection with the ‘end’ and with the Coming of Our Lord. Each invocation of the Holy Name should be an ardent aspiration to our final reunion with Jesus in the heavenly kingdom. Such an aspiration is related to the end of the world and the triumphal Coming of Christ. ii
There is a way of saying “Jesus”, which is a preparation for death, an aspiration towards death conceived as the long-expected appearing of the Friend ‘whom having not seen, ye love’. (1 Pet 1:8) a call for this supreme meeting and here and now a throwing of our heart beyond the barrier. In that way of saying ‘Jesus’, the longing utterance of Paul, ‘When Christ, who is our life, shall appear…..’ (Col 3:4) and the cry of John, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (Rev 22:20) are already implied. ii
i“The Wonders of the Holy Name”, Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, O.P. (E.D.M.), Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Rockford, Illinois, 1993.
ii “On the Invocation of the Name of Jesus, Lev Gillet, A Monk of the Eastern Church, Templegate Publishers, Springfield, Illinois, 1985 Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius.