The Meaning of the Holy Name


I’m back at my spot in McDonalds.  The baby is being a darling and happily sucking on his pacifier and playing with his hands, dozing off only to wake from the occasional order at the counter.  The TVs overhead are set to CNN and I see for the first time grainy images of the suspected bombers of the Boston blast.  I feel strangely light due to my diet race with my husband coupled with a larger-than-necessary mocha.  I see that they’re selling two steak and egg burritos for three dollars and scattered memories of my less-than-perfect day flash at me: the messy bedrooms, kitchen, downstairs; the rainy week crankiness; the laundry; the hugs I didn’t administer.  I feel the beginnings of a downward spiral of thought, but I don’t despair—I try something new.  I pray silently, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…”  And I let Him pull me toward the Father instead of falling into myself.

Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, O.P. in The Wonders of the Holy Name calls the Name “Jesus” the “all-powerful” prayer because it invokes the graces inherent in the Incarnation and Passion.  When we say His Name devoutly, meaning to thank Him for taking flesh and dying for us, we offer to our Heavenly Father infinite joy, love, and glory because we are offering Him His Son.

Fr. O’Sullivan can therefore assure his readers that when they pray His Holy Name, they can:

-Offer to God all the Masses said throughout the world that day

-Free many souls from the pains of Purgatory so that they become dear friends and passionate intercessors

-Protect themselves from countless evils and from the attacks of the evil one

-Become filled with a peace and joy previously unknown to them and strengthened so that they can easily bear their burdens

I am often plagued by bad thoughts, envious thoughts, suspicious thoughts, despairing thoughts, pretty much everything St. Paul advocates for not thinking about.  And I’ve made zero progress in trying to figure out why I’m having those thoughts or what I can do to fix them or how they aren’t really that bad or how they are the very worst thoughts anyone’s ever had and how I am doomed.  Because I’ve looked to myself to correct the problem.  But when I remember to say “Jesus” when I first notice them—even better, if I’ve been praying His Name all morning—and when I remember all the graces attached, joy and peace do come.

If I’m troubled about a child, I try to remember to picture his face while saying Jesus’s name.  And with each “Jesus”, I’ve shared in all the Masses around the world for that child.  With each movement of the intellect our little prayer of “Jesus” can purify the blackest of thoughts to the extent that we have prayed it with love.

I am so grateful to Fr. O’Sullivan for promoting this beautiful devotion.  I am so thankful for his encouragement to frequently thank God for Jesus’s Incarnation and Passion throughout the day because it, sadly, wouldn’t have occurred to me otherwise.  And I now have a powerfully beautiful way to respond when confronted with the grainy images from Boston or the gruesome details from the Gosnell trial or seemingly insurmountable challenges from daily life.  I can close my eyes, pray “Jesus” with each heartbeat, and be reminded again that He is with me, with each breath, every second of the day.  I can better understand how I need Him every instant and how He will take me to the Father.


“All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Col. 3:17)

Copyright 2013 Meg Matenaer


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  1. Oh how lovely…the Most Holy Name. I am also loving this devotion. I love it, takes a second ad itz EVERYTHING. Like praying it after receiving the Eucharist.

    • Meg Matenaer on

      I’m with you–it is everything! And yes, what a great time to pray it–after receiving. Blessings on your day!


  3. Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
    Beautiful post, thank you. You may be interested in learning about the ancient & powerful prayer of the Christian East, practiced by both Eastern Catholics & Orthodox Christians…the Jesus Prayer, also called the Prayer of the Heart: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

    • Meg Matenaer on

      Hi, Patricia! Thanks for your note about the Jesus Prayer. I’ve heard it before and often see the beads used for it but haven’t prayed it much myself. I will today, though–thank you! God bless you.

      • The invocation of the Holy Name through the Jesus Prayer is deeply powerful because it is focused wholly on Jesus: all thoughts, striving, hope, faith & love are outpoured in devotion to God the Son. It fulfills 2 basic injunctions of the New Testament. In one, Jesus said: “I say unto you, whatsoever you shall ask the Father; in My Name, He will give it you.” (John 16:23). We also find St. Paul’s injunction to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Further, it follows Jesus’ instructions upon how to pray (which He gave at the same time He taught His followers the Lord’s Prayer). “When you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly” (Matthew 6:6). Jesus taught that all impetus, good & bad, originates in men’s hearts. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

        The Jesus Prayer can be used for worship & petition; as intercession, invocation, adoration, & as thanksgiving. It is a means by which we lay all that is in our hearts, both for God & man, at the feet of Jesus. It is a means of communion with God & with all those who pray. God bless!

  4. Meg, thank you for reminding us all of the Strength we have available when the negativity bug rears its ugly head. So simple, yet so powerful…I will be using it today! 🙂

  5. I have prayed the Jesus Prayer for years. It helped me get through a time of depression. Now I pray it as a way of praying “without ceasing.” I often just say the word Jesus. A beautiful breath prayer.
    Beautiful article. Thanks.

  6. Thank you for sharing. Such a great pearlf of wisdom for daily life, its very inspiring, i have the abundance feelin, a gift from Jesus. I through my hardtimes as a catholic woman, and He is there always for me. It took so long time to listen his Words and whispering. And now i learn from my passed, i listen to him, take him to lead me in daily life. Actually i stand by my own today because of Jesus. I praise him, History truly live inside my heart. Thank you, momm, for sharing. I love it.😍

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