|This Feast is associated with the Feast of the Circumcision, for it is when a child was circumcized that he received a name and was accepted as a son of Abraham and a full member of his family (the Feast of the Holy Family will come soon, after the Feast of the Epiphany on the 6th). So honored is His Holy Name that devout Catholics bow their heads (men removing their hats) at the sound of "Jesus" (or "Iesus" in Latin), both inside and outside of the liturgy. To protect the sacredness and honor due the Holy Name, when hearing the Name of the Lord taken in vain, it is right to pray "Sit nomen Dómini benedíctum!" ( "Blessed be the Name of the Lord"), to which the reply, if overheard, is "Ex hoc nunc, et usque in sæculum!" ("from this time forth for evermore!"). .
While there are no special customs that I am aware of, it is so that if we utter His Name with devotion, we receive a partial indulgence. A plenary indulgence, under the usual conditions, may be received if we visit a church or chapel on this day. A good thing to do to fulfill these conditions is to recite the Litany of the Holy Name, especially in a church or chapel. You can download the Litany, in Microsoft Word .doc format, in English and Latin.
And here are the thoughts of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (who wrote the hymn "Iesu Dulcis Memoria" which is sung today) on the most holy Name of Jesus:
The sweet Name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, begets good works, and nourishes pure affections. All spiritual food leaves the soul dry, if it contain not that penetrating oil, the Name Jesus. When you take your pen, write the Name Jesus: if you write books, let the Name of Jesus be contained in them, else they will possess no charm or attraction for me; you may speak, or you may reply, but if the Name of Jesus sounds not from your lips, you are without unction and without charm. Jesus is honey in our mouth, light in our eyes, a flame in our heart. This name is the cure for all diseases of the soul. Are you troubled? think but of Jesus, speak but the Name of Jesus, the clouds disperse, and peace descends anew from heaven. Have you fallen into sin? so that you fear death? invoke the Name of Jesus, and you will soon feel life returning. No obduracy of the soul, no weakness, no coldness of heart can resist this holy Name; there is no heart which will not soften and open in tears at this holy name. Are you surrounded by sorrow and danger? invoke the Name of Jesus, and your fears will vanish.
Never yet was human being in urgent need, and on the point of perishing, who invoked this help-giving Name, and was not powerfully sustained. It was given us for the cure of all our ills; to soften the impetuosity of anger, to quench the fire of concupiscence, to conquer pride, to mitigate the pain of our wounds, to overcome the thirst of avarice, to quiet sensual passions, and the desires of low pleasures. If we call to our minds the Name of Jesus, it brings before us His most meek and humble heart, and gives us a new knowledge of His most loving and tender compassion. The Name of Jesus is the purest, and holiest, the noblest and most indulgent of names, the Name of all blessings and of all virtues; it is the Name of the God-Man, of sanctity itself. To think of Jesus is to think of the great, infinite God Who, having given us His life as an example, has also bestowed the necessary understanding, energy and assistance to enable us to follow and imitate Him, in our thoughts, inclinations, words and actions. If the Name of Jesus reaches the depths of our heart, it leaves heavenly virtue there. We say, therefore, with our great master, St. Paul the Apostle: If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.
The name Jesus was given to the Holy Child at God's command (Luke 1:31). The Holy Name is all-powerful because of the Person who bears it. We honor it because of the command of Christ, that we should pray in His Name and because it reminds us of all the blessings we receive through our Holy Redeemer. Hence St. Paul was able to write to the Philippians: "…at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Phil 2:10). By means of this devotion we also make amends for improper use of the Holy Name.
On this day you might incorporate into your prayers some special prayers of reparation to Jesus for the blasphemies against His Holy Name. The Church has granted an indulgence of 7 years for the recital of the Litany of the Most Holy Name. The feast of the Holy Name is a good time to explain the meaning of the monogram "IHS" to the children.
[Editor's Note: An indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned. The Enchiridion of Indulgences issued on June 29, 1968, changed partial indulgences to be designated only with the words "partial indulgence," without any determination of days or years. An partial indulgence still applies for recital of this litany. The Divine Praises is also appropriate. Also, a partial indulgence is gained by just invoking the name "Jesus." You could also teach your children the practice of bowing one's head at the name of Jesus. --JGM]
Read more about devotion to the Holy Name here. or www.vatican.va
Happy Feast Day to the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. www.ewtn.com for mass, radio, tv online.