March for Life 2020 (and a little about the names of Jane Roe)

Today’s the March for Life in Washington, D.C.! My oldest boy is there with a group from school, and I know many of you and/or your children are there as well. Thank you for fighting the good fight!

Because this is a Catholic name blog, I’ve written about abortion from a name perspective a few times*; today I thought I’d take a brief look at the names — real and pseudonymous — of the woman named in that 1973 Supreme Court decision**.

Jane Roe was a pseudonym for the plaintiff in the case, used to keep her identity anonymous. This article explained that John Doe and Jane Doe are used when a person’s identity is unknown, while Roe and Poe are used for those whose identity is known but who wish to remain anonymous. The woman known as Jane Roe continued to be known as Jane Roe for the rest of her life, though she revealed her real name after the case was decided: Norma McCorvey.

I spent a few minutes this morning reading articles about her with, at first, a sort of detached onomastic perspective — I was interested in finding anything that discussed her names. As has happened every time I’ve ever looked her up, though, I was moved by how much she experienced and endured from her earliest days. Even though there are questions about what was truth and what was fiction, not knowing what and especially who could be trusted seems a constant characteristic in her life. As does a definite vulnerability; I found this namey quote particularly sad and telling: “Norma McCorvey had little more to her name than a pseudonym. But it was the most famous pseudonym in American legal history: Jane Roe.” And when she became pro-life, she said before a Senate subcommittee in 1998, “I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.”

What a lady, and what a life, for better and for worse. May she, and all deceased victims of abortion, rest in peace.

* Things I’ve written about abortion from a name perspective:
I would imagine Planned Parenthood fears names
Planned Parenthood vs. the Holy Name of Jesus (CatholicMom) (and my blog post sharing it, which includes further thoughts)
March for Life: Comfort and confidence in the Holy Name of Jesus
The name of Mother Teresa (includes a link to her amazing address at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast)
Book reviews, radio appearance, naming aborted babies

** Roe v. Wade (1973) “determined that a woman’s right to decide whether to have an abortion involved the question of whether the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The justices answered this question by asserting that the 14th Amendment, which prohibits states from “depriv[ing] any person of … liberty … without due process of law,” protected a fundamental right to privacy. Further, after considerable discussion of the law’s historical lack of recognition of rights of a fetus, the justices concluded “the word ‘person,’ as used in the 14th Amendment, does not include the unborn.” The right of a woman to choose to have an abortion fell within this fundamental right to privacy, and was protected by the Constitution.”


My book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018), is available to order from ShopMercy.org and Amazon — perfect for the expectant parents, name enthusiasts, and lovers of Our Lady in your life!

March for Life: Comfort and confidence in the Holy Name of Jesus

I really wanted to write about the March for Life today, I feel like my heart’s right in D.C. with the marchers who are braving the cold and snow and ridicule and hatred and silent media all for the babies. And I thought — what better way than by writing about the Holy Name of Jesus? I found such comfort in the Holy Name during the height of the Planned Parenthood Videos expose, even writing about it in my August CatholicMom.com column: Planned Parenthood vs. the Holy Name of Jesus. I also looked into devotion to the Holy Name a little more, and was delighted to discover that the saint my alma mater was named after, St. Bernardine of Siena, was THE promoter of the Holy Name! And then yesterday my mom and I were talking about Jesus’ different names and what they mean, specifically Christ, Emmanuel, Jesus, and Messiah. So I thought I’d do just a small bit of info about each:

Christ
From Behind the Name: “Means ‘anointed’, derived from Greek χριω (chrio) ‘to anoint’. This was a name applied to Jesus by early Greek-speaking Christians. It is a translation of the Hebrew word מָשִׁיחַ (mashiyach), commonly spelled in English messiah, which also means ‘anointed’.”

There are a lot of names connected to Christ that are familiar, like Christian, Christopher, Christine/a, and some that are unfamiliar, like (according to the DMNES): Christophera, Christred, Christwin, and Christwina! I think my favorite version is Christiana.

Emmanuel
From Behind the Name: “From the Hebrew name עִמָּנוּאֵל (‘Immanu’el) meaning ‘God is with us’. This was the foretold name of the Messiah in the Old Testament. It has been used in England since the 16th century in the spellings Emmanuel and Immanuel, though it has not been widespread. The name has been more common in continental Europe, especially in Spain and Portugal (in the spellings Manuel and Manoel).”

I know you’ll laugh, but ever since seeing Manny the Mammoth in Ice Age, I’ve though Manny was a pretty great nickname for a boy, and I love the meaning of Emmanuel. It would be great for a Christmas baby! I love the feminine variants Emmanuelle and Emmanuela as well — lots of good nickname options! Emma, Ella, Nell(a), and even Manny (my husband’s godmother’s name was one of the Emmanuel variants [I’m just not sure which] and she went by Manny).

Jesus
From Behind the Name: “English form of Ιησους (Iesous), which was the Greek form of the Aramaic name יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshu’a). Yeshu’a is itself a contracted form of Yehoshu’a (see JOSHUA). Yeshua ben Yoseph, better known as Jesus Christ, was the central figure of the New Testament and the source of the Christian religion. The four Gospels state that he was the son of God and the Virgin Mary who fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah. He preached for three years before being crucified in Jerusalem.”

“Yeshua ben Yoseph” always jumps out at me — it’s equal parts so cool and also so common. Does that make sense? I always think of Him as Jesus, which equals God in my mind; seeing Yeshua ben Yoseph makes Him seem so “normal.” Which of course he was, both, God and Man, fully. What an awesome mystery.

This is the Joshua bit: “From the Hebrew name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshu’a) meaning “YAHWEH is salvation”. Joshua was one of the twelve spies sent into Canaan by Moses, as told in the Old Testament. After Moses died Joshua succeeded him as leader of the Israelites. As an English name, Joshua has been in use since the Protestant Reformation. The name Jesus comes from a Greek translation of the Aramaic short form יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshu’a), which was the real name of Jesus.”

Messiah
See Christ above. The entry at Nameberry references that Tennessee judge who ruled that parents couldn’t name their son Messiah “because there’s only one” — it was overturned, and in fact the name Messiah was #298 in 2014!

I was delighted to discover recently that the month of January also happens to be devoted to the Holy Name of Jesus! I’m sure it’s no coincidence — even if the organizers of the March for Life didn’t realize that in the beginning, we all know Heaven did.


So I have a small giveaway today! I have three copies of Fr. Paul O’Sullivan, O.P.’s book The Wonders of the Holy Name, and how I’d like to do it is offer them first to any of you readers that might be at the March for Life today. I know you’re probably not reading this if you are! So I won’t choose the recipients until Sunday evening, in hopes that gives enough time to get home, thaw out (!), and catch up on your blog reading. 🙂 Second, if none of our readers are marchers, I’d like to give them to any of you who personally know a marcher, who can pass it on to that person. Finally, if there are no marchers and no friends of marchers, I’ll pick randomly from those who comment on this post. It’s a powerful little book! And I love the dedication: “This booklet is lovingly dedicated to the Sweet Mother of Jesus. No one loves the name of Jesus as she does.”

Therefore God highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth …” (Philippians 2:9-10).

From the footnote in my bible (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, Second Edition RSV): “heaven … earth … under the earth: The three principal realms in the worldview of ancient Israel (Ex 20:4). Homage will come from all creatures great and small — the angels and saints above, the family of man and beasts spread over the earth, and the dead and the demons of the underworld.”

(You might also be interested in reading my post from the summer: I would imagine Planned Parenthood fears names, which doesn’t mention the Name of Jesus but totally should. It does reference Call Him Emmett and the 50 Million Names project.)