I’ve been thinking a lot about death and evil and names and their power recently, in light of the recent Planned Parenthood videos that have revealed with newfound clarity “Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls,” as the St. Michael prayer reminds us.
I’ve been thinking especially of the little boy in Video Four who had been called Eleven Six, for the age he was at the time of his death (eleven weeks six days), but who has since become known as Emmett—the name of the boy whose murder helped spark the Civil Rights Movement (Emmett Till). I’ve been thinking of all the babies already named by the 50 Million Names Project, which seeks to have a name for every baby aborted and an act of reparation done in his or her name. I’ve been thinking of all the babies whose names are known only to God. I’ve been thinking of all those who have been tricked and betrayed into thinking these “services” are necessary for fairness and freedom.
Like so many of us, I’ve been demolished with grief and desperate for hope, and I’ve found comfort in yet another Name:
God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth … (Philippians 2:9-10)
Names have power, and no name has more power than the Holy Name of Jesus, that even the “evil spirits fear his name,” as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us. (434)
In The Wonders of the Holy Name, Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, OP writes that the Name of Jesus:
- “consoles the saddest heart and makes the weakest sinner strong”
- “saves us from innumerable evils and delivers us especially from the power of the devil, who is constantly seeking to do us harm”
- “gradually fills our souls with a peace and a joy we never had before”
- “gives us such strength that our sufferings become light and easy to bear”
Each of these points spoke directly to me in light of Planned Parenthood’s longstanding known atrocities as well as the newly discovered horrors, as did one of the many stories that Fr. O’Sullivan related regarding the power of the Holy Name of Jesus. He tells that in 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 … the frequent repetition of the Holy Name of Jesus. (source)
How familiar does the world of 1274 sound? And how perfect the chosen means of protection.
I posted on my blog recently that Planned Parenthood fears names, meaning it fears the dignity and humanity and love a named baby implies — the kind of characteristics that make it harder to forget or ignore or hide what’s actually happening in its clinics. But Planned Parenthood likely fears the Name of Jesus even more — the Name that, as St. Alphonsus wrote, is
For all the grieving, all the suffering, those whose hearts are still hardened and those that have broken free and those who are confused — for all the victims of Planned Parenthood — the Holy Name of Jesus offers solace, justice and mercy, forgiveness, freedom, peace.
powerful in Hell, because this name makes all the devils tremble. These rebel Angels tremble at the sound of that most sacred name, because they remember that Jesus Christ was the Mighty One Who destroyed the dominion and power they had before over man. (source)
What examples can you give of the power of a holy name? What is your go-to devotion in times of great sadness or distress?
Copyright 2015 Katherine Morna Towne
Photos: IHS Monogram–the Name of Jesus by Waiting For The Word (2006) via Flickr, CC.; St. Paul Church (Westerville, Ohio) — Angel room, Jesus Loves Me by Nheyob (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.