In popular practice, January has traditionally been devoted to the Holy Name of Jesus. Here’s a kid-friendly explanation of the devotion, a prayer, Bible memory verse, and activities to try throughout the month…plus a list of special Church days in January.
by Brian Smith
Back in the Middle Ages, many Catholics began observing special devotions around a particular theme each month—the Holy Name of Jesus in January, for instance, or the Blessed Virgin Mary in May (or November, in some places). Today, many families are reviving the practice as part of the way they observe the liturgical calendar at home. Observing a monthly devotion is another way to recognize Christ’s lordship over all time—plus, it’s fun!
Here are some ways to celebrate the popular devotion for January, the Holy Name of Jesus.
Talking to Kids about the Holy Name of Jesus
God wants us to be with him in heaven. He sent Jesus to teach us what we must do so we will join him in heaven one day. This is called salvation.
Salvation is the greatest gift of all because it means God loves us no matter what. God wants us to be happy, but he especially wants us to join him in heaven. Salvation is made possible because of Jesus. God sent his only son so we would follow Jesus and do everything we can to lead a good and faithful life.
The name Jesus means savior. God told the Blessed Virgin Mary, through the angel Gabriel, that he wanted the child in her womb to be named Jesus. For this, we give thanks and praise to God for sending Jesus. Whenever we hear or say the name Jesus, we can bow our head and say thank you to God for loving us so much (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., 2665-2669).
January Feast Days and Memorials
(Dates in bold are particularly relevant to this month’s devotion)
1 Solemnity of Mary
2 St. Basil the Great; St. Gregory the Nazianzen
3 The Most Holy Name of Jesus
4 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
5 St. John Neuwmann
6 St. Andreé Bessette
7 The Epiphany of the Lord
8 The Baptism of the Lord
13 St. Hillary
17 St. Anthony
20 St. Fabian; St. Sebastian
22 Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children
23 St. Vincent; St. Marianne Cope
24 St. Francis de Sales
25 Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle
26 St. Timothy; St. Titus
27 St. Angela Merici
31 St. John Bosco
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth.
Questions to help propogate the faith with your children.
- What does the name Jesus mean to you?
- What can we ask Jesus to teach us so that we can be more pleasing to God?
- How can we help others to know and love God?
Incorporate this month’s devotion with the virtues of faith, hope and charity.
Say the following prayer as a family:
O Lord Jesus Christ, teach us to love Your holy name, to hold it in awe and pronounce it with reverence. Deliver us from the sin of blasphemy. May the holy name of Jesus be infinitely blessed!
– Blanche Jennings Thompson, “All Day with God” (1939).
Learn about God’s infinite mercy.
During the 15th century, Sts. Bernardine of Sienna and John of Capistrano were strong advocates in promoting devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. Throughout their travels, they carried a sign with the acronym “IHS,” representing the Latin phrase Iesus Hominum Salvator, which means “Jesus Savior of Mankind.”
The two saints encouraged people to place an “IHS” over the doorways to their homes. Pope Martin V approved of this veneration in 1427. Numerous miracles have been reported over the centuries from people who hold this tradition.
Help the Church to grow within your own community.
Do you have a new parishioner at your church?
Jesus reminded us that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. What better way to welcome others than to present them with a homemade cross. Many craft stores stock simple wooden crosses. These crosses can be painted and decorated as you see fit. Be sure to include the “IHS” acronym on the front of the cross.
Brian Smith is a stay-at-home dad of two girls. He and his wife of more than 10 years enjoy traveling, the outdoors and discovering new things with their children. He can be reached at [email protected].