January 12, 2011
By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
In an era when baby names such as Sienna and Brooklyn are considered fashionable, Pope Benedict XVI is calling for a return to the tradition of giving children Christian names that reflect their status as a son or daughter of God.
“Every baptised child acquires the character of the son of God, beginning with their Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit causes man to be born anew in the womb of the Church,” the Pope said during Mass in the Sistine chapel this weekend.
He added that a name was an “indelible seal” that set children off on a lifelong “journey of religious faith” and that the use of non-Christian names was a threat to family life.
“This is a great responsibility,” he said. “That is why I encourage all the faithful to rediscover the beauty of baptism and being part of God’s great family.”
The Catechism teaches that parents, sponsors and pastors should insure that a child is not given a name which is “foreign to Christian sentiment” but to give names of saints who can serve as models for children as they grow up.
“God calls each one by name. Everyone’s name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it.” (#2158)
This name will accompany a person into eternity where “the mysterious and unique character of each person marked with God’s name will shine forth in splendor.” (2159)