The Power of Bowing Your Head at the Holy Name of Jesus

The month of January is dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus.

There is a special practice that can help increase your devotion.

Upon saying or hearing the name of Jesus, gently bow your head.

This is not limited to the context of the Holy Mass. It can be part of our daily lives, too.

Whether it is in the middle of a normal conversation, during prayer time, or even upon overhearing someone mention Jesus, you can honor His Holy name by bowing your head as an act of reverence.

The custom of bowing your head at the name of Jesus is largely inspired by the letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians:

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Phil. 2:9-11

Since physically bowing at the knee is not always practical, Pope Gregory X offered a solution during the Council of Lyons.

The Council of Lyons in 1274 states:

“Each should fulfill in himself that which is written for all, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious Name is recalled, especially during the sacred Mysteries of the Mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head.”

Tradition says this gesture makes amends for the blasphemous use of the name of Jesus, especially if someone uses the Lord’s name in vain in front of you.

“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exod. 20:7

Making this reverent gesture also honors the fact that the name of Jesus is incredibly powerful.

Anyone is welcome to make this pious gesture as a small exterior act to remind us internally of God’s presence in our lives and the power of His Name.

You can find specific prayers to honor the name of Jesus here.

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