Praying the Holy Name of Jesus

Perhaps the most shattering consequence of Jesus real presence, which is brought about by invoking his name, is that we become unable to lie to ourselves any more.

He is light, and wherever he inserts his lordship there is now an absolute necessity of honesty and a zero tolerance for any form of self-deception, self-congratulation, or self-gratification, even those forms that felt necessary, natural, and almost innocent before. He is gentle, but he is light, and he simply does not and will not coexist with any darkness at all; either he casts it out, or it keeps him out.

This is the negative dimension of the fact that he is light. He subtracts our falsehoods. But he also adds his truth. The positive dimension is essentially a clarification of vision, of perspective, of “the big picture.” He does not (usually) give specific directions or instant solutions, but he always gives a clarification of our vision. (This usually happens gradually.)….

His presence manifests itself, not in fire or wind or thunder, but in a still, small voice. Only in this quietness does he give us the certainty of his presence. We usually cannot hear this because we are making so much inner noise, especially when we are agitated. But this is when he wants most to come, for he goes where the need is.

And what happens when we invoke him during our agitation? He answers! But not by magic or spectacle. Nothing spectacular happens when I invoke the Holy Name at times when I am reacting to my problems by the “fight-or-flight response” that is so natural to our animal nature (that is, either by the “fight” of inner rage and resentment or by the “flight” of self-pity and fantasizing). At such times, when I pray his name, I do not suddenly feel holy or happy, but I do suddenly feel… well, “mature” is the only word that comes to mind. The word from the Word is often something like “Grow up!” I suddenly see that far more important things are at stake than my feelings, when I let his great wave come in and wash my little garbage away. What had looked big on my beach looks tiny in his waves.

We do not always get specific answers, even when we invoke his name; but we always get the Answerer.

Acknowledgement

Peter Kreeft. “Praying the Holy Name of Jesus.” from Prayer for Beginners (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000).

Reprinted by permission of Ignatius Press. All rights reserved. Prayer for Beginners ISBN 0- 89870-775-7.

This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in January, 2017.

The Author

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College. He is an
alumnus of Calvin College (AB 1959) and Fordham University (MA 1961, Ph.D.,
1965). He taught at Villanova University from 1962-1965, and has been at Boston
College since 1965. He is the author of numerous books (over forty and counting)
including: You Can Understand the Bible, How to Be Holy: First Steps in Becoming a
Saint, Fundamentals of the Faith, The Snakebite Letters, The Philosophy of Jesus,
The Journey: A Spiritual Roadmap for Modern Pilgrims, Prayer: The Great
Conversation: Straight Answers to Tough Questions About Prayer, How to Win the Culture War: A Christian Battle Plan for a Society in Crisis, Love Is Stronger Than Death, Philosophy 101 by Socrates: An Introduction to Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology, A Pocket Guide to the Meaning of Life, Prayer for Beginners, and Before I Go: Letters to Our Children About What Really Matters. Peter Kreeft in on the Advisory Board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.

Copyright © 2000 Ignatius Press