Saved by the Holy Name


The children are downstairs dutifully picking up their toys as directed by their father.  I am supposedly clearing the table and putting away the dishes but what I’m really doing is silently lifting the lid off a tub of peanut butter Hershey kiss cookies that had been lovingly dropped off by an aunt.  I am going in for number six for the day when the thought occurs to me that, really, it’d be sinful to eat any more.

I wince and do the math again: am I really full?  Yes.  Could maybe this still count as a dessert because they’re so small?  No.  Darn it!  Maybe I’ll just have another one as I’m thinking about this.  No, it’s certain: if I eat any more, it’ll be sinful.  Oh, what’s the big deal, they’re so small—“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…” comes back to mind, as I’ve been trying to pray His Name today.  I consider this: He’s been with me all day today and now confronted with the cookies, am I going to pretend that He’s not actually right beside me?  Cover my eyes like my preschooler?  My heart starts to pound: He is right here with me and I want to have another one.  Who am I going to choose?

I mouth “aargck” and shake my hands in frustration, backing away from the tub praying, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…” And it will be one more time that He’ll need to lead me away from that same dark corner of the kitchen—this time as I’m drinking the flavored coffee creamer from the same beloved aunt—to learn more about the strength of the Holy Name.

With my decaf in hand back at McDonald’s it’s the opening paragraph of Chapter 3 of Fr. Paul O’Sullivan’s The Wonders of the Holy Name that catches my attention:

“In the year 1274 great evils threatened the world.  The Church was assailed by fierce enemies from within and without.  So great was the danger that the Pope, Gregory X, who then reigned, called a council of Bishops in Lyons to determine on the best means of saving society from the ruin that menaced it.  Among the many means proposed, the Pope and Bishops chose what they considered the easiest and most efficacious of all, viz., the frequent repetition of the Holy Name of Jesus.” (6)

No history scholar I try to imagine what was plaguing the world at that time without going to the trouble of looking it up.  Plagues, probably, heresy…I imagine living in 1274 and get distracted thinking about what my hair would look like without shampoo and Cost Cutters.  Curiosity sets in and I look up what actually was the problem discussed at the council—the conquest of the Holy Land and union of the Churches, according to New Advent.

 “The Holy Father then begged the Bishops of the world and their priests to call on the Name of Jesus and to urge their peoples to place all their confidence in this all-powerful name, repeating it constantly with boundless trust.  The Pope entrusted the Dominicans especially with the glorious task of preaching the wonders of the Holy Name in every country, a work they accomplished with unbounded zeal…Their efforts were crowned with success so that the enemies of the Church were overthrown, the dangers that threatened society disappeared and peace once more reigned supreme” (7).

I feel the CNN ticker relentlessly crawling across the screen overhead, a veritable stream of bad news that seems to be picking up pace with each week.  Before I can question if my attempts to pray for my house and my nation in the Holy Name would really make any difference, though, I read:

“It is amazing what one person who prays can do to save his country and save society.  We read in Holy Scripture how Moses saved by his prayer the people of Israel from destruction, and how one pious woman, Judith of Betulia, saved her city and her people when the rulers were in despair and about to surrender themselves to their enemies.  Again, we know that the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which God destroyed by fire for their sins and crimes, would have been pardoned had there been only ten good men to pray for them!” (8)  Later in the book is a chapter devoted to how the Holy Name drove out the plague in Portugal.

I can do that.  Because I can’t do anything else.  I can’t fly to Paris and take on the water canons.  I can’t drive to Washington and sit down for a heart-to-heart with the President.  I can’t plead with the heads of media.  I can’t even tear myself away from a tub of cookies on my own.  But I can pray the Holy Name.  And I trust that the power of His Name whispered in a kitchen is enough to repel evil of all kinds.


Copyright 2013 Meg Matenaer


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    • Meg Matenaer on

      Thanks, Deanna–it’s been such a tremendous help to me, and I wouldn’t have thought to simply say His Name like that before reading this book. God bless!

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