Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother! Many are aware that the Month of January is the month of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. In fact the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus is kept on January 3rd each year. The Feast gives the character to the entire month.
What’s in a name? Thus did Juliet wonder in Shakespeare’s famous play. Perhaps some of us have even asked that ourselves. We know what is meant by that expression. Generally it means that names are not that important. And yet our faith tells us that names are indeed important.
But we know that names are very important. Think, if you will, of the poor and devoted husband whose wife has had a stroke and who will never hear her utter his name again. Think of the poor mother whose child is getting older and who has not yet said mama. Perhaps she has brought the baby to the doctor who, after testing, discovers that the child has a hearing problem and that perhaps she will never hear the child utter her name or any other name for that matter. These are two examples of individuals who understand the importance of names. And think of a young man and woman who are first keeping company. The very name of their beloved thrills them. Yes, names are important.
What a joy then for us to realize that when God became a man, he had a name, Jesus. The very name Jesus means Savior. It is the name that is so powerful that it is used in all the sacraments of the Church. We pray, Our help is in the Name who made heaven and earth. In fact we should try to do everything in the name of the Lord. It is the name which the angel told to St. Joseph and it was St. Joseph who had the great privilege to bestow the Holy Name upon Our Lord.
We should have only the greatest reverence for the name of Our Lord. We should bow our head when either saying or hearing His name. In the church’s Liturgy the priest bows his head at the name of Our Lord, Our Blessed Mother, the Patron Saint of the parish Church (in our case St. Paul), his own patron saint (in my case, St. James the Apostle), the patron saint of the diocese (in our case St. Agnes) and the saint whose feast is being celebrated. In fact, there is a tradition to use the phrase Our Lord in place of the Sacred Name Jesus so that we do not use the name lightly or carelessly. In the Old Testament, the Chosen People would never use the name of God nor would they write it. Even today, among many pious Jews, they write G-D instead of GOD out of respect for the divine name.
Out of respect for the Sacred Name we should never use Our Lord’s name as a curse or as an expression. How sad to hear the name of God used in an expression, sometimes even by young children who have not even begun to read or write. We should only use Our Lord’s name in a reverential way and in prayer. It is the same spirit of reverence that teaches us to try to make the Church a place of quiet so that a spirit of prayer permeates the whole building. When the English martyrs were being cruelly tortured for our Catholic faith, the Divine Name gave them strength and courage. They would utter a beautiful aspiration that perhaps we, too, could memorize. It is (in Medieval English) Jesu, Jesu, always be Jesus to me! In Latin the prayer is: Iesu, Iesu, esto mihi semper Iesus!
Blessed be God! Blessed be His Holy Name! Yes, dear friends let us always use the Most Holy Name of Jesus with love and with reverence. May that name be our strength and salvation.
First Saturday Anointing of the Sick: It has long been the practice at St. Paul’s that the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick be administered after the First Saturday Mass. I wish to give a brief catechesis about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and encourage that we all adhere to the heart and mind of the Church in this matter.
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven sacraments of the Church, instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ. The sacraments are outward signs, instituted by Christ, to give grace. Some of the sacraments should be received frequently (always with the proper disposition). These are the Holy Eucharist and Penance. Some sacraments may be received only once, and to repeat them would be a sacrilege. These are baptism, Confirmation, and Holy orders. The sacraments that may be received more than once, but not frequently, are marriage and anointing of the Sick. Thus one would not normally receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick every time it is administered. While it is proper and very beneficial to go to confession monthly, it is not proper and beneficial to receive the Anointing of the Sick monthly. So that things will be clear. I will quote the General Instruction of the Church in regard to this sacrament. This is the official instruction published by the authority of the pope.
8. The Letter of James states that the sick are to be anointed in order to raise them up and save them. Great care and concern should be taken to see that those of the faithful whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age receive this sacrament. On the one hand, the sacrament may and should be given to those whose health is seriously impaired; on the other hand, it may not be given indiscriminately, or to any person whose health is not seriously impaired.
9. The sacrament may be repeated if the sick person recovers after being anointed and then again falls ill or if during the same illness the person’s condition become more serious.
10. A sick person may be anointed before surgery whenever serious illness is the reason for the surgery.
11. Elderly people may be anointed if they have become notably weakened even though no serious illness is present.
Unfortunately, a great deal of misunderstanding has grown around this sacrament, sometimes even propagated by priests themselves. One should not receive the sacrament of the anointing unless one is seriously ill. One should not receive the sacrament again during the same serious illness, unless it grows worse. Unfortunately, many tenets of the New Age Movement have infiltrated even the Church. Thus it must be emphatically understood that one cannot receive the sacrament of the anointing on behalf of another, just as one may not be baptized on behalf of another. We stand in judgment before Our Lord as individuals and we answer to Him for our own behavior. One cannot repent on behalf of another.When one is seriously ill, or is about to undergo surgery, one should receive this sacrament. In order that the integrity of the sacrament may be preserved we will begin the following practice on the First Saturday of each month.
After the Mass, the sick will be blessed. All who are at the Mass may then come forward to be anointed with Blessed Oil. This is the oil that burns in the lamp before the miraculous statue of St. Joseph in the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal. This is a sacramental, not the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
After all have been blessed with the holy oil, those who have been diagnosed with a serious illness (and have not already been anointed), those who will be undergoing surgery, and those who are growing weak due to old age (and have not already been anointed) will receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
It is my fond hope that this will restore the integrity of the Sacrament and put an end to misunderstanding. I would encourage everyone to receive the Sacrament of penance (confession) at least once a month. This is the true sacrament of healing of mind, body and soul.
In closing may I extend sincere gratitude to all of you for your generosity to St. Paul’s. Your continued support enables us to be that Light on the Hill to all who pass by.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Marry,
Monsignor James F. Pereda