Is the bearing of a child a parent's license to get creative with the name? Word On Fire contributor Ellyn von Huben examines a recent news item about a child's controversial name change, and what could be avoided if parents just give the process a little more thought, and perhaps a little more saintly intervention.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” could have been a plea that Adrian Williams would make to both his mother and the Wisconsin State Appeals Court when he petitioned to change his name to Romanceo Sir Tasty Maxibillion back in 1995. The State of Wisconsin didn’t buy it; though it actually could have made him easier to find as a parolee (did I mention he was incarcerated at the time?). His mother’s response? Maternal intuition leads me to think that she would also take umbrage at the choice. “Sir Tasty,” as I like to call him, asked the court to allow him a name that is unique, creative, and the embodiment of his aspirations. In this respect, the criminal’s mind was working with thought processes not unlike many soon-to-be parents preparing for a new arrival.
Talk of the trend of modern creative naming has come into prominence once more in the news in the past few weeks. A judge in Tennessee disallowed the name Messiah for a young child. What received a lot of attention was judicial over-involvement and the judge’s decision to order that Messiah not be the child’s legal name. Judge Lu Ann Ballew became involved because this was a case of parental indecision on what should be the baby’s surname. I saw little outrage over the tragedy of the child’s unmarried parents haggling over choice of surname — a sorry intimation of discord to come in his young life. In the course of this decision the judge decided that Messiah was not an appropriate first name. Many people have been shocked and irate with the judge’s pronouncement that Messiah is an offensive name, in that it only belongs to Jesus Christ, thus raising this essentially to another debate about Church/State separation. (To add to the Judge Ballew’s opinion, I would interject that “Messiah” might also be a name that is offensive to Jews who believe the Messiah is still to come.)
I was more shocked to read that “Messiah” is fourth among the fastest trending names in popularity according to the U. S. Social Security Administration. There were close to 800 little Messiahs born in the United States in 2012. So, while one child has been spared an unusual and inappropriate name, this well-publicized case has made no contribution to pushing back the trend of unfortunate names. American freedom allows parents to pull out all the stops when giving one of their first and most permanent gifts to their children. Many parents feel no constraints when deciding baby names. Even our constitution’s “Title of Nobility clause” has not interfered with the Princes, Barons, and Queenies that have populated hospital nurseries...
Today is the Feast Day of St. Pius X, the Pope who was instrumental in moving the age of the reception of First Eucharist to 7. Ellyn von Huben reflected last year on the lasting legacy of this holy Pope and his great gift to the faithful, a gift we often take for granted. Today we share it again with you.
Custody of the eyes is a problem of mine; I must be a very visual person. Since I’ve realized this is a problem, closing them at appropriate times is the best remedy. One appropriate time at Mass being after Communion—eyes open but cast down are still too easily distracted by the parade of designer footwear, French pedicures, and heels that defy the laws of physics. But last Wednesday, sitting in the front pew at the noon Mass on the Solemnity of the Assumption, my eyes opened several times and I found myself transfixed by the beauty of the young children as they received Holy Communion. Yes, it was sweet and the children were cute, but this was more than a Hallmark moment. The innocence and earnestness with which these children received Our Lord in the Eucharist was profoundly inspiring.
August 21 is the feast day of Pope St. Pius X, a saint and pope of whom I have had little familiarity. It is this holy man who can be thanked for the blessed opportunity for these young people to gather at the Lord’s table with the rest of our community. We become so absorbed in the way things work these days that it is difficult to fathom that there was a time, in the not that distant past, when the opportunity for frequent reception of this sacrament did not exist and certainly not for those so young...