The Holy Name Procession
October 22, 2017
As I looked back through the annals of our parish history during our anniversary celebration, I was struck by the fact that the men of the parish banded together in1845, practically from the beginning, to form the St. Stephen’s Men’s Society. That folded into the Holy Name Society, a nationwide fraternal organization of Catholic men whose mission was to promote personal holiness, as well as to promote and defend the Catholic faith. The group has its origins way back to the 13th century in France, but the local group came to prominence here in Cincinnati at a time when Catholics were mostly immigrants and very badly treated, if not outright mocked and scorned for their beliefs and generally considered un-American. The men in the Catholic fraternity responded to that challenge in droves. In the early 20th century, they would sponsor processions with the Blessed Sacrament through the city streets that become so large that they had to rent out Crosley Field to hold the crowds. (One estimate says that over 35,000 men joined them one year!)
As the nation becomes more aggressively secular, we see the times shifting again, so that contempt for the Church and Catholic faith is beginning to rise again. Who can forget that the leadership of one of our major political parties was recently caught blasting the Catholic Church for being "backwards" and anti-democratic. Or that one of our recent presidents wanted to fine an order of Catholic nuns because they refused to go along with his program of providing contraception to their employees. Or that many groups are actively working now in the State of Ohio to take away our tax-exempt status as a church because we refuse to bow to Caesar and recognize same-sex “marriage” as legitimate. Or that a Senator from California publicly stated that she wanted to block the appointment of a federal judge because that judge was serious about her Catholic faith.
For all these reasons and more, some men from St. Antoninus parish have re-started a Holy Name Society chapter there. It is open to all men from the area. In honor of the older tradition, they have even recently re-started a Eucharistic procession for Catholic men through the streets of downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine. (I will have a reflection on my recent participation in that procession for next week's bulletin column). It will be held annually on the second Saturday of October and is well worth the investment of your time.
Finally, here is the mission statement of the group, provided by their national association:
The Confraternity of the Most Holy Names of God and Jesus (Holy Name Society) promotes reverence for the Sacred Names of God and Jesus Christ, obedience and loyalty to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and the personal sanctification and holiness of its members. Members are called to contribute to the evangelization mission of the Church and to make perpetual acts of reverence and love for our Lord and Savior.
Let's continue to pray that the men of our parish and diocese will re-commit themselves to honoring the name of Jesus, Our Lord and Savior.