« back to all posts

Nicknaming the Holy Family

By: Taryn DeLong on December 31st, 2023

Print/Save as PDF

Nicknaming the Holy Family

holy-family  |  Christmas Season  |  Catholic Faith

My daughter has nicknames for the Holy Family. 

I’m overstating it. She’s one and a half. She thinks she’s saying their names when she calls them Jeejee (Jesus—not to be confused with Gigi, her grandmother), Mon (Mary), and Fofef (Joseph). But I like to think of them as nicknames she uses as she gets to know the people I hope will be even more important to her than her parents.


Holy Names


We are told in Scripture that at the name of Jesus, “every knee should bend” (Philippians 2:10). Jesus himself said that if we ask the Father for anything in his name, we will receive it (John 16:23), and if we gather in his name, he will be there (Matthew 18:20). The apostles healed in Jesus’ name (Acts 4:10). 

Similarly, the Catechism states that “it is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation, so that ‘there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’” (432). Demons fear the name of Jesus (434), and “the name of Jesus is at the heart of Christian prayer” (435). 

Of course, we never swear using the name of Jesus—traditionally, Catholics have bowed their heads at the name of Jesus. It is a holy name.


Children Rosary IG


Holy Friends


So, when we walk into Mass and my daughter shouts, “Hi, Mon!” at the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe or “Jeejee!” at the crucifix, part of me wants to let her shout. She is excited to be in church and see her friends Mary and Jesus. We’re working on “inside voices,” of course—but I hope she is always so overjoyed to be at Mass. 

In a recent episode of “The Chosen,” I marveled at the casual way Jesus’ hometown friends and neighbors threw His name around. To them, “Jesus” was just a name, and Christ was just a person. To some, He was a friend. 

How wonderful that we are invited to do the same! We are invited to use Jesus’ name in prayer, as a friend—that same name at which we bend our knees and bow our head. 


Jesus himself called His apostles friends, and that friendship extends to us: 

“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you” (John 15:13-16).


Getting to Know Jesus


My daughter’s favorite toy she received for Christmas is a small Shining Light Dolls plush Joseph (Jofef). She also loves her big plush Mary, the religious paintings and crucifixes we have on our walls, and her Catholic board and picture books.

My daughter is becoming friends with the Holy Family through toys, pictures, and books. How do we, as adults, befriend Jesus?


Holy Family IG


At the beginning of Advent 2021, I set a liturgical New Year resolution to read the Bible in a year. I finished just before Christmas 2022. I can now say with certainty that there are two foolproof ways to get to know Jesus. One is through prayer, and the other is through reading the Gospels. Getting to know His voice—and therefore being able to recognize it when you hear it—is crucial to becoming His friend.


New Year Spiritual Resolution


It’s not too late to add another New Year’s resolution. You may not have time to read the whole Bible this year, but can you read a chapter of the Gospels each day? Or even the daily Gospel reading (perhaps paired with the CatholicMom.com Gospel reflection)? I promise you that a relationship with Jesus is the most fruitful friendship you will ever have.

About Taryn DeLong

Taryn DeLong is co-president and editor-in-chief of Catholic Women in Business. Her first book, Holy Ambition: Thriving as a Catholic Woman at Work and at Home, written with her co-president Elise Crawford Gallagher, is out November 1, 2024 from Ave Maria Press. She lives with her family outside Raleigh, North Carolina. You can follow her on LinkedIn or Instagram.