Today, we have the option of celebrating the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. It flows logically from our celebration of January 1, when the name of Jesus was given to the eight-day-old savior at the time of his circumcision.
This celebration always brings me back to my early days in San Francisco when I was in the navy. When I first went to the Bay Area in early 1951, I fell totally in love with that beautiful city, and began to attend Mass frequently at Old Saint Mary’s Church in Chinatown, on the corner of California Street and Grant Avenue. And there I found out that the parish is staffed by the Paulist Fathers, one of whose practices is always to operate a lending library of spiritual books in connection with their parishes. Some of my happiest memories of the bay area are associated with that library: what I read there, and Miss Minna Berger, the elderly librarian who took a special interest in me and my reading and who became a dear friend of mine.
One day, she had put out on her desk a little basket containing holy cards on which were printed the words to a wonderful saying of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. I had never heard that saying before, and was delighted by it. Saint Bernard said, “The Holy Name of Jesus is honey in the mouth, music in the ear, and a shout of gladness in the heart.” I have kept the holy card in one of my books and have repeated its message to myself and in homilies, sermons, and various talks, countless times during the years since then. Today, as we celebrate the Holy Name of Jesus, I happily offer it to you.
My father and mother were married in the Jesuit church of the Most Holy Name of Jesus in New Orleans in 1926. I was baptized in that same church in 1930, and then in 1950, I attended the graduation Mass of our class from Loyola University which stands next to that beautiful church. I later found out that there is a special devotion in our Dominican tradition to the Holy Name of Jesus, so much so that for many years, it was required that in every Dominican church there be an altar dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus if the church itself did not bear that name. So today I am very happy to be able to celebrate the name of Our Divine Lord which began to exercise an important influence in my life from its very beginning. I encourage you, also, to cultivate within your own heart a deep love of the holy name of Our Lord so that it can become for you “honey in the mouth, music in the ear, and a shout of gladness in the heart.” Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.