Holy Name Society

Frequently Asked Questions about the Holy Name Society

The Holy Name Society is the common name for the Confraternity of the Most Holy Names of God and Jesus. If you would like to learn more about this special confraternity please click on the questions below to see the answers.

How do you describe a member of the Holy Name Society?

A member of the Holy Name Society is a practicing member of the Catholic Church who through devotion to the Name of Jesus Christ is inspired to holiness and sanctification, who through a personal commitment to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy labors to spread the Kingdom of God for the greater glory and honor of Jesus Christ.

What is the Holy Name Society?

The Holy Name Society is the popular or common name for the Confraternity of the most Holy Names of God and Jesus. It can also be referred to as the Society of the Holy Name. It is a confraternity of the Catholic Church with Canonical ties to the Dominican Order. The Holy Name Society is committed to spreading devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus Christ and assisting it's members grow in holiness and obtain their personal salvation.

What exactly is a Confraternity?

Confraternities (Latin confratria or confraternitas) are voluntary associations of Catholic lay people and clerics that exist for the promotion of special religious devotions, acts of piety and spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The main reason confraternities exist is for the personal sanctification of their members. It is through their spiritual activities and works of mercy that members in confraternities obtain the special graces and indulgences necessary to attain their salvation.

How does the Church formally recognize Confraternities?

The Church recognizes confraternities as Public Association’s of Christ’s Faithful and their organization and governance are defined under Canon Law.

Can. 298 §1. In the Church there are associations distinct from institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life; in these associations the Christian faithful, whether clerics, lay persons, or clerics and lay persons together, strive in a common endeavor to foster a more perfect life, to promote public worship or Christian doctrine, or to exercise other works of the apostolate such as initiatives of evangelization, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with a Christian spirit.

§2. The Christian faithful are to join especially those associations which competent ecclesiastical authority has erected, praised, or commended. Book II, Part I, Title V, Chapter I. Canon 298 (2) 1983 Code of Canon Law.

In addition the official document of the Church on the role of the lay faithful, Apostolicam Actuositatem, “Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity” calls all members of the Mystical Body of Christ to spread the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth for the glory of God the Father.

“As far as possible the laity ought to provide helpful collaboration for every apostolic and missionary undertaking sponsored by their local parish.” (Apostolicam Actuositatem (10) Pope Paul VI November 18, 1965)

The Holy Name Society works at the parish level to provide our members the opportunity to respond to this call of the Catholic Church.

What does the Catholic Catechism teach about associations like the Holy Name Society?

The Catholic Catechism states “all the lay faithful by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth” (CCC 900). In addition, the Catechism teaches that, “…lay people are called by God to make of their apostolate, through the vigor of their Christian spirit, a leaven in the world "(CCC 940.

The Holy Name Society by promoting the sanctity and holiness of its members and through its efforts of teaching, spreading, and defending the Faith of Christ provides the ways and the means for members to work as “leaven in the world”.

When was the Holy Name Society Started?

The Holy Name Society traces its roots to the Council of Lyons in the year 1274. The Albigensian Heresy was posing a serious challenge to the Medieval Church. This heresy was devastating society – it challenged the divinity of Christ, repudiated all of the sacraments of the Church and encouraged taking one’s life. Pope Gregory X convened a special council of Bishops in Lyons, France. The Council prescribed that the faithful should have a special devotion to the Holy Names of God and Jesus in reparation of the insults offered to it by the Albigensian blasphemers. The Dominican Order was asked to spread this devotion in a special letter to Blessed John of Vercelli, Master General of the Dominican Order. The Dominican’s fervently executed the pope’s command, preaching everywhere the power and glory of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Through the efforts of St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) and St. John Capistran (1385-1456) to promote devotion to the most Holy Name of Jesus in the lay faithful, the Franciscan Order initiated Confraternities to the Holy Name of Jesus in the 16th century. Pope Julius II (1503-1513) granted two separate indulgences to this confraternity (History of Development of Devotion to the Holy Name, P.R. Biasiotto, O.F.M., 1943)

Through the efforts of the Dominican Order, confraternities to the most Holy Name of God were instituted. The Church formally recognized the Confraternity of the most Holy Names of God in 1571 when Pope Pius V gave the Dominican Order sole jurisdiction over this society in his Bull Decet Romanum.

In 1727 Pope Benedict XIII confirmed various privileges on both the Society of God and the Society of the Name of Jesus in his document the Pretiosus. The two confraternities were essentially merged under the name Confraternity of the most Holy Names of God and Jesus by Pope Benedict XIII on 26th of May 1727 when he gave exclusive rights to both the Confraternity of the most Holy Name of God and the Confraternity of the most Holy Name of Jesus to the Orders of Friar Preachers – the Dominicans.

Today the only title used for these Societies is the Society of the Holy Name or Holy Name Society. Be its origin what it may, there is no doubt that ultimately it is from God. By its fruits you shall know it. And the fruit of the Holy Name Society shows it receives its strength from the root that is Jesus Christ.

What are the benefits of Membership?

By virtue of it’s canonical ties to the Dominican Order, members of the Society share in a very special way in the rich treasury of graces won for the Mystical Body of Christ by the passion and death of it’s head, Jesus Christ. Every member of the Society, while they are faithful to their obligations, share in the blessings from the Masses, good works, preaching, teaching and manual labor of the Dominican Order. In addition, additional indulgences are available for members through their devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5.

What is the Apostolate of Holy Name Society?

The apostolate of the Holy Name Society is to promote reverence for the Sacred Names of God and Jesus Christ and to assist parish ministries performing the Corporal Works and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

As members of the Holy Name Society – both individually and collectively in parish Societies – members are called to build the kingdom of God by teaching, spreading, and defending the Faith of Christ, through practicing and spreading a special devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

The Holy Name Society member through spiritual and corporal works of mercy strives to become like the good servant (Matt 25:21) - never the unprofitable (Lk 17: 10) or the useless servant (Matt 25:29).

What are the Charisms of the Holy Name Society?

Canonical ties to the Order of St. Dominic give members special charisms that stem directly from the holiness, preaching, teaching, and good works of the many men who have consecrated their lives to Jesus Christ as Dominican Priests and Brothers. In a very special way members share in the tireless zeal for the salvation of souls of St. Dominic, the unsurpassed intellect and humility of St. Thomas Aquinas, and the sanctity and holiness of Blessed John of Vercelli. The Holy Name Society has been adorned with privileges, indulgences, and other apostolic graces by Pope Pius IV, Clement VIII, Innocent XI, Benedict XIV, Pius X, and Paul VI. The Magisterium of the Church has uniquely positioned the Holy Name Society within men’s apostolates within the Church. These special graces come from the abundance of graces won for mankind by the passion and death of Jesus Christ.

Who can become members of the Holy Name Society?

Membership in the Holy Name Society is open to all Catholics, the lay faithful and clergy, over the age of 18. They must be firm believers in all that the Catholic Church believes and teaches and put these teachings into practice in their daily lives. These beliefs of the Catholic faith are expressed in the Credo of the People of God, Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio, Solemni Hac Liturgia (Credo Of The People Of God) Of The Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, June 30, 1968.

How do I become a member of the Holy Name Society?

Membership in the Holy Name Society is typically at the parish level. To become a member of the Holy Name Society requires a public expression of faith by the candidate in a special religious induction ceremony. The parish Holy Name Society must first be properly chartered with the Dominican Order for members to share in all of the graces and indulgences of the Church.  Following the expression of faith, the professed member must write his name in the official registry of names kept by the parish Holy Name Society. The ceremony is typically held on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus either during the special Memorial Mass or immediately after.

Holy Name Society - Commitment to Personal Holiness

The Holy Name Society is committed to helping its members grow in holiness through devotion to the most Holy Name of Jesus. Members of this fraternity are called to be leaders and to follow the footsteps of St. Dominic and St. Bernardine of Siena and all the saints to cleanse themselves in the sacrament of penance, strengthen themselves with the most Holy Eucharist, nourish their souls on Sacred Scripture, increase their desire of divine love through prayer, and lead their families, friends, and coworkers to Christ Jesus by their acts of charity and piety.

In the Name of Jesus, we obtain every blessing and grace for time and eternity, for Christ has told us, "If you ask the Father anything in my name He will give it you." (Jn 16,23).

St. Alphonsus de Liguori, one of the Doctors of the Church, said that “a man who does not attend the meetings of a confraternity commits more sins than twenty men who do attend them.” Jesus tells us in St. Mathew’s gospel that, "If two of you shall consent upon earth concerning anything whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father.” (Mt 18:19). Therefore the Church concludes all her prayers by the words, "Through Our Lord Jesus Christ." St. Ambrose teaches us "many who are weak, when united become strong; and it is impossible that the prayers of so many should not be heard."

If you are a Catholic over the age of 18, please consider joining the Holy Name Society – join your prayers with others so that the Most Holy Name of Jesus can be venerated – our prayers will be heard!

Why does a Religious Confraternity have in it's Pledge, "I pledge my loyalty To the flag of my country."

First it should be noted that Patriotism and Nationalism are two separate and distinct concepts. Patriotism is a virtue. Nationalism is defined as a devotion to the interests or culture of one's nation. In extreme cases Nationalism is marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries and cultures. This is bad and can lead to sinful behaviors.

Patriotism or love of country is one of the obligatory forms of human and Christian charity towards the neighbor, coming in between the love of family and the love of mankind.

St. Thomas Aquinas, OP coupled together the two devotions, to parents and to country (Summa Theologica, 2a, 2ae, Q. 101). Dealing with the virtue of "pietas," dutifulness, he writes: "The principles (or origins) of our being and governing are our parents and our country, which have given us birth and nourishment. Consequently man is debtor chiefly to his parents and his country, after God. Wherefore, just as it belongs to religion to give worship to God, so does it belong to "pietas," in the second place, to give worship to one's parents and one's country." Thus, unlike nationalism, patriotism comes within the sphere of virtue, duty, and moral obligation.

That this is and has always been the teaching of the Catholic Church may be gathered from the pronouncements of the Head of the Church as collected in such a work as La Patrie et la Paix. Textes pontificaux. Thus we find Pius X, in an address delivered in French to French pilgrims on April 19, 1909, saying in express terms: "Si le catholicisme etait ennemi de la patrie, il ne serait plus une religion divine" (if Catholicism were the enemy of the country, it would no longer be a divine religion). He went on to say (the translation is mine): Yes, it is worthy not only of love but of predilection that country (patrie) whose sacred name awakens in your mind the most cherished memories and makes quiver every fiber of your soul, that common country which has cradled you, to which you are bound by bonds of blood and by still nobler bonds of affection and tradition."

Twenty years earlier, in January 1890, Pope Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Sapientiae Christianae set forth patriotism as a moral obligation based on natural law. "If," writes the Pope, "the natural law bids us give the best of our affection and of our devotedness to our native land so that the good citizen does not hesitate to brave death for his country, much more is it the duty of Christians to be similarly affected to the Church."

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Still have a Question?

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