Since I was baptized in a Christian church, the first name is also my "Christian name," or baptismal name. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2156-2159)
Now, Brian is a fine Irish name — a name I share with Brian Boru, once king of Ireland. It is not, however, a saint's name. Not quite.
I haven't lain awake nights, fretting over my Christian name not being the name of Saint: but I've been aware that my personal name does not conform to the norms and customs of the Catholic Church.
My Christian name isn't, to the best of my knowledge, a serious issue as far as the Catholic Church is concerned. Particularly since my parents almost certainly had no idea that I'd convert to Catholicism some decades after my baptism. Still, as I said, I've been aware of the situation. I didn't get baptized a second time, when I converted - I asked about that, and was told that it would be redundant.
I have, however, renewed my baptismal vows at regular intervals. Along with the rest of my parish. The most recent time was yesterday, during Mass. And that's another topic.
Christian Name: What's the Big Deal?The Catholic Church has - what else? - rules about the names we give our children:
"The sacrament of Baptism is conferred 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.'85 In Baptism, the Lord's name sanctifies man, and the Christian receives his name in the Church. This can be the name of a saint, that is, of a disciple who has lived a life of exemplary fidelity to the Lord. The patron saint provides a model of charity; we are assured of his intercession. The 'baptismal name' can also express a Christian mystery or Christian virtue. 'Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to see that a name is not given which is foreign to Christian sentiment.'86"My wife and I followed these instructions - which give quite a lot of elbow room. Our children have been named after notables from the Old Testament, including a judge of Israel, a Pope and Saint, and a Christian virtue. And, since our culture expects people to have a 'middle name,' each of our children also carry the name "Marie," or in the case of our son, "Michael."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2156)
So, the youngest generation has 'proper' names. But not me. Quite.
I haven't lost sleep over my name - but I know that names are important. Which is not just my opinion:
"God calls each one by name.87 Everyone's name is sacred. The name is the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one who bears it. The name one receives is a name for eternity. In the kingdom, the mysterious and unique character of each person marked with God's name will shine forth in splendor. 'To him who conquers . . . I will give a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it.'88 'Then I looked, and Lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.'89"At least my baptismal name was "not ... foreign to Christian sentiment." It may not, quite, be the name of a Saint - but the meaning of "Brian" is fairly neutral. Details vary from one source to another, but it seems that my Christian name means something like "strong," or "loud voice," or "high" - or maybe "hill."
I've thought of choosing a Saint's name, but haven't experienced the sort of 'aha!' that would make me comfortable with any one Saint's name. If I had to make a choice right now, though, I'd pick Saint Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church. He's been the Heavenly Patron of all Writers since January, 1923.
Saint Brian - Sort ofTurns out, though, that there is a "Saint Brian." Although he preferred to be called Edmund.
Brian Arrowsmith was born in 1585 to Robert Arrowsmith and Margery Gerard Arrowsmith, in Lancashire, England. His parents were troublemakers, sort of. They wouldn't attend Protestant services, harbored priests in their home, and were arrested.
Brian Arrowsmith took Edmund as his confirmation name, and preferred using it.
He was as big a 'troublemaker' as his parents, apparently. Priest hunters caught up with him - after which he was accused of being a Jesuit priest, and convicted. Then, times being what they were, Edmund Arrowsmith was hanged, drawn, and quartered. That was August 28, 1628.
Which is the feast day of Saint Edmund Arrowsmith.
And that's yet another topic.
- "Saints: That's so Medieval"
(February 14, 2010)
- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- "Canonizzazione di Quaranta Martiri Dell'Inghilterra e del Galles Omelia del Santo Padre Paolo VI" [English, Italian]
Pope Paul VI (October 25, 1970)
- "Saint Edmund Arrowsmith"
- "Concistoro del Santo Padre Paolo VI Per la Canonizzazione di Quaranta Martiri Dell'Inghilterra e del Galles" [Latin]
Pope Paul VI (maggio (May) 18, 1970)
- (To the Public Consistory for the canonization of forty martyrs of England and Wales (May 18, 1970))
- "Rerum Omnium Perturbationem
Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on St. Francis de Sales to our Venerable Brethren the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops, and Other Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See." [English]
Pope Pius XI (January 26, 1923)