Sanctum nomen eius — holy is His name
These three Latin words come from Mary’s Magnificat, which the church reads today, the Feast of the Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth, both pregnant, Mary with Jesus, Elizabeth with John the Baptist. Whenever I read this line I think of my sister Sheila. The Gospel reading at her funeral was the Magnificat. Inscribed on her headstone, from the Magnificat, are the words, “The Almighty has done great things for me,” which are followed in Luke by “holy is His name”—sanctum nomen eius. Just staying contemplatively with those three Latin words opens up a whole world of memory, not only of Sheila herself, but of how grace is at work in our lives, and surely was in hers. For she knew the highs and lows of life. Sanctum nomen eius: an evocation, through the voice of Mary, of the radical nearness of God, and of responding to that nearness by exclamation and blessing of that very God, of God’s holiness. Not too many words are needed in order to pray; perhaps only these three.