The Most Holy Name of Jesus
Jesus, means “God Saves”
On the 10th Day of Christmas....
The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments
The month of January is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus, with January 3rd being the feast of the Holy Name. After the Blessed Virgin Mary had conceived her Child by the Holy Spirit, the angel Gabriel appeared to St. Joseph and instructed him that the Child’s name should be called Jesus, which means “God Saves”.
Invoking the name of Jesus
goes back even further to the Early Church in the form of the “Jesus Prayer”. This penitential prayer very simply says, “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner,” which can be repeated on a prayer rope or Jesus Beads just as the Hail Mary is prayed on the Rosary.
Christogram or a monogram of Jesus Christ’s name
The most common Christogram became "IHS" or "IHC", denoting the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus, ΙΗΣΟΥΣ
Another popular Christogram is a four-letter abbreviation, ΙϹΧϹ — a traditional abbreviation in the Orthodox
The Circumcision of Jesus
The circumcision of Jesus is an event from the life of Jesus, according to the Gospel of Luke, which states in verse 2:21 that Jesus was circumcised eight days after his birth (traditionally January 1). This is in keeping with the Jewish law which holds that males should be circumcised eight days after birth during a Brit milah ceremony, at which they are also given their name.
The circumcision of Christ became a very common subject in Christian art from the 10th century onwards, one of numerous events in the Life of Christ to be frequently depicted by artists. It was initially seen only as a scene in larger cycles, but by the Renaissance might be treated as an individual subject for a painting, or form the main subject in an altarpiece.
The event is celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision in the Eastern Orthodox Church on January 1 in whichever calendar is used, and is also celebrated on the same day by many Anglicans. It is celebrated by Roman Catholics as the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, in recent years on January 3 as an Optional Memorial, though it was for long celebrated on January 1, as some other churches still do. A number of relics claiming to be the Holy Prepuce, the foreskin of Jesus, have surfaced.
Christian Symbols and Their Hidden Meanings:
Ichthys is the Greek word for fish, and it was one of the most important early Christian symbols. Not only did fish feature in several miracles of Jesus in the Gospels, but the ichthys was taken as an acrostic for the Greek phrase “Iēsous Christos Theou Hyios Sōtēr,” which means “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”
Alpha and Omega
In the book of Revelation, Jesus says of himself, “I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Rev 22.13) Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last one. Putting the two together, they represent the eternity of Christ as the Son of God.
The Chi-Rho is a combination of the Greek letter chi (X) and rho (P), which are the first two letters of the Greek word for “Christ,” and so when put together represent “Jesus.”
The IH Monogram consists of the Greek letters iota (I) and eta (H), which are the first two letters of the word “Jesus” in Greek, and as such was a common shorthand for “Jesus.”
INRI carved into the wood of the cross. These letters are short for the Latin phrase, "Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum," which translates to
"Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."
The IX Monogram consists of the Greek letters iota (I) and chi (X). Iota is the first letter of the Greek word for “Jesus,” and chi is the first letter of the Greek word for “Christ.” Put together, they function as a shorthand for “Jesus Christ.”
Other Important Symbols:
The Ancient Greeks believed that the flesh of peacocks didn’t decompose after death, and so peacocks became a symbol of immortality. Early Christians adopted the symbol to represent their belief in eternal life in heaven with God, and was often depicted with the Tree of Life.
Medieval Europeans believed that pelicans were particularly attentive to their young, even to the point of wounding itself and letting its young drink its blood when no food was available. As a result, the pelican became a symbol of Christ’s passion, poring out his blood for the forgiveness of sins, as well as the Eucharist.
One of the most important symbols of Christ is the Lamb.
Christ, the sacrificial lamb, died for the sins of humanity.
The lamb is sometimes portrayed with a flag. This is symbolic of Christ's victory over death in his resurrection.
Songs of the season:
What Child is this...
Recipes & Traditions:
Prosphora Orthodox Bread
Prosphora is a Greek word meaning "offering."
(1 large loaf or 5 small loaves)
3 1/2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon of dry yeast
a dash of salt
1 cup luke warm water
Dissolve the yeast in warm water and set aside.
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Form a well in the flour.
Add the dissolved yeast to the flour mixture.
Mix well, adding a bit more flour if the dough is sticky, up to 1 cup.
Sprinkle a little flour on a board or table/counter top and begin kneading the dough until it become smooth and stiff.
Place the dough in a bowl, cover, and let rise one-half hour in a warm place.
Form the dough into a ball, flatten with the palm of your hand, and roll it gently with a rolling pin.
Place it in 9" floured baking pan.
Dip the prosphora seal in flour, and then tap off the excess.
Firmly press the seal in the center of the dough.
Keep the pressure on the seal for as long as it takes to pray the Lord's Prayer, then remove the seal very carefully.
Cover the pan with a clean lint-free towel and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour until the bread doubles in size.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes.
Remove the bread from the pan and set it on a cooling rack.
Allow the prosphora to cool completely before wrapping in plastic or aluminum foil for transport to Church.
To make small prosphora, replace the above steps 7 through 10 with:
Roll out the dough to a level 3/4-inch thickness on a well-floured board, and cut out five rounds with a 3-inch biscuit cutter or the drinking end of glass. Transfer rounds to a floured cookie sheet.
Re-roll the remaining dough to a level 1/2-inch thickness and cut out five 2 1/2-inch rounds with a cutter/glass. Press the prosphora seal onto the top of each small round and remove carefully.
Dampen the tops of the 3-inch rounds with water, and prick several times with a straight pin; use a spatula to place one of the smaller rounds, centered, on top each of the larger rounds; press lightly to "seal" the rounds together.
The word "prosphora” originally meant any gift that the faithful made to the church. Today it refers to the loaves of bread used in the Proskomedia. In the Greek tradition, one large prosphora is used; the Russians and Serbs use five smaller loaves, one of which is prepared as the Lamb. Each prosphora is made of two joined circles of dough, representing the two natures of Christ. The breads are made from wheat flour (the Lord Himself compared Himself to a grain of wheat-cf. John 12:24), and are stamped with a seal bearing a cross and the letters "IC XC NIKA," an abbreviation from the Greek, meaning "Jesus Christ Victorious" (or "Conqueror"). The prosphora representing the Mother of God may be imprinted with her icon instead of the cross.
Prayer at the Commencement of Making Prosphoras
Making the Sign of the Cross, say
Through the prayers of our holy fathers,
O Lord Jesus Christ, our God,
have mercy upon us. Amen.
Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.
O God, whose only-begotten Son hast said,
"Without Me, ye can do nothing," my Lord and my God,
in faith I bend the knees of my soul to bow before
Thy fatherly goodness and raise my hands to Thee:
help me, a sinner, to do this work in conformity with Thy will.
And send down Thy Holy Spirit to guide me in the making of these prosphora,
that they may be worthy of the use for which they are intended.
And blessing the assembled ingredients with the Sign of the Cross, say:
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Lord have mercy (thrice).
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, through the prayers of Thy Most Pure Mother,
by the power of the precious and life-giving Cross, by the intercessions of blessed Michael the Archangel,
of the holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist, John, of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul,
of your patron saint or the patron saint of the church in which the Divine Liturgy is to be served,
of my holy Guardian Angel, and of all the saints, have mercy upon me and save me. Amen.
6 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar
4 tablespoons of butter, soft (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons of dry yeast, 1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 pebbles of mastic, ground with a teaspoon of sugar in a marble mortar (optional)
1 teaspoon mahlab (can substitute ground anise, or cinnamon)
1 cup of milk
1/8 cup orange blossom water
1/8 cup of rose water
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of water warmed at 110F and a dash of sugar.
Mix the flour with the sugar, mahlab, ground mastic, nutmeg, dash of salt and baking powder.
Add the rose and blossom water in a small container. Measure the milk and let it sit at room
temperature or make sure it is not too cold. Ideally, you want it at 110F.
Place the flour mixture in a mixing bowl and add the yeast, milk and rose water mixture and mix
the dough until smooth. Let it rest one hour.
Divide the risen dough into small balls. Let them rise 2 hours.
Shape the balls into flattened disks and let rise one hour.
Sift a thin layer of flour on the disks and press the mold firmly on each disk.
With a toothpick, poke each disk 5 times all around to help prevent it swelling up while baking.
(5 times to symbolize Christ who was nailed 5 times to the cross)
Let the disks rest and preheat the oven to 400F or you can also use your gas grill,
making sure the disks are placed on a heavy-bottomed sheet.
Bake the bread for 10 minutes or so until golden.