Blessings to you all in this New Year! The Liturgical calendar has been chock full of good stuff over the past couple of weeks, and today is no exception.
Even though today’s calendar celebrates “The Tuesday before Epiphany”, the Church gives us the option to celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, the name to which “every knee shall bow.” (Phil 2:10). Personally, I find the latter more enticing than the former. So to lift high the Holy Name of Jesus, I turn to one of my favorite Doctors of the Church and author of Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622). In his letter to St. Jane Frances de Chantal he shares his love for Jesus and invites us all to speak Jesus’ name in our waking and our sleeping so that we will ever be united with him.
O my Jesus! fill our hears with the sacred balm of thy Holy Name, that so the sweetness of its fragrance may penetrate our senses, and perfume our every action. But that our hearts may be capable of receiving this sweetness, they must be circumcised: take, therefore, from them whatever could displease thy divine sight. O glorious Name! named by the heavenly Father from all eternity, be thou for ever written on our souls; that as thou, Jesus, art our Saviour, so may our souls be eternally saved. And thou, O Holy Virgin! that was the first among mortals to pronounce this saving Name, teach us to pronounce it as it behoveth us, that so we may merit the Salvation which thou didst bring into this world!
My dear Daughter! [St. Jane Frances de Chantal] it was but right that my first letter of this year should be to Jesus and Mary: my second is to you, to wish you a Happy New Year, and exhort you to give your whole heart to God. May we so spend this year, that it may secure to us the years of eternity! My first word on waking this morning was Jesus! and I felt as though I would gladly pour out on the face of the whole earth the oil of this sweet Name.
As long as balm is shut up in a well-sealed vase, no one knows its sweetness, save him who put it there: but as soon as the vase is opened, and a few drops are sprinkled around, all who are present say: ‘What sweet Balm!’ Thus it was, my dear Daughter, with our Jesus. He contained within himself the balm of salvation; but no one knew it until [H]is divine Flesh was laid open by the fortunate wound of that cruel knife [at His Circumcision, as St. Francis de Sales was writing around the time of this feast day]; and then people knew [H]im to be the Balm of the world’s Salvation, and first Joseph and Mary, then the whole neighbourhood, began to cry out: Jesus! which means Saviour.
-St. Francis de Sales, in a letter to St. Jane Frances de Chantal, as quoted in Dom Prosper Guéranger’s entry in The Liturgical Year for the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, in Volume III of the 1983 Marian House edition of the English translation by the Benedictines of Stanbrook. January 29 is the date of his feast day on the traditional sanctoral calendar. (source)
I invite you to pray the Litany of the Holy Name with me today!
May God bless you and keep you! Anne