The Catholic Defender: PETRA

Posted by John Benko - May 2nd, 2012

I think it is important when a child a born, that a name be picked out that will have a spiritual meaning.

The tradition of the Catholic Church is to choose a name that has a deep spiritual meaning, usually in honor of a Saint or bible character.

Some of my most favorite bible characters are found in the Old Testament. I am so thankful for my children.

Looking at some of the meaning of names on the internet, this is the basics:

I named my oldest Son, Nathan Aaron (Far left in this picture) in honor of two important figures of the Old Testament.

Nathan means “He (God) has given”, in the Old Testament, Nathan is a prophet who served King David and his son, who was also called Nathan.

Nathan is also used as a short form of Nathaniel or Jonathan.

Aaron means “mountain of strength”, Aaron was Moses’ brother, who was the first high priest of Israel.

My second Son, Joshua Steven, honors two more bible characters, Joshua means “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.

Steven means “crown, garland”, Stephen was the first Catholic martyr.

My third Son, Jason Michael honors two more bible figures, Jason means “healer, the Lord is salvation”.

Jason was an early Christian associate of St.Paul. Michael means “who is like God?”.

Saint Michael is one of the seven archangels in Hebrew tradition and the only one identified as an archangel in the Bible.

In the Book of Revelation in the New Testament he is portrayed as the leader of heaven’s armies, and thus is considered the patron saint of soldiers.

In the picture below, notice the Altar boy left of Father? That is Joshua, my second Son!

My Daughter I named Petra Marie, this honors the Apostle Peter and the Virgin Mary.

Petra is of Greek origin, and the meaning of Petra is “rock”. Feminine variant of Peter.

Marie-Due to the Virgin Mary this name has been very popular in the Christian world, though at certain times in some cultures it has been considered too holy for everyday use.

In England it has been used since the 12th century, and it has been among the most common feminine names since the 16th century. The Latinized form Maria is also used in English as well as in several other languages.

Christian tradition for centuries parents would give names of Saints for their children especially at Baptism and Confirmation. I grew up hating my middle name, “Timothy” until I discoved St. Timothy in the New Testament. Now I am thankful for this honor. At Confirmation, I took the name “St. Francis” largely because of his love of animals. I think this is a very important tradition, which follows God’s own heart. In the Old Testament, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Abram meant “Father”, God changed his name to “Abraham” meaning Father of many nations.

Another important figure in the Bible was Jacob. He was the Grandson of Abraham and Son of Isaac. God changed Jacobs name to Israel and his twelve Sons would become the twelve tribes of Israel.

This is very important because when God changed the name of someone, it was a major event in salvation history. God’s covenants are associated with these major name changes.

The most important name change certainly fits the most important Covenant.

Matthew 16:13-20 states, “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter (Kapa), and upon this rock (Kapa) I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the KEYS of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

The keys designates an office, consider Isaiah 22:22,

“In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the KEY to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.

Today, sadly, we have lost much of the importance of why we name our children biblical names or names after the Saints. There are a lot of Christian names given, but usually with no reference to the Saints. An Uncle, a close relative, or close friends are the primary honor of naming the children. Nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but most of the time there is no connection with God and the Church.

My Mother named me Donald which means “great chief”!

That is so cool, coupled with St. Timothy, I hope to live up to my name!

Today, there are some weird names given that do not have a holy or wholesome purpose, can you imagine naming your child:

So-fine-a-dime, Dementia, On Purpose, Mo’Money and Dolla’ Bill, Pilot?

I would certainly want to change my name when I got older!

It is good to note here that one of my favorite bands of all time is a Christian group called “Petra”!

It is good to honor the Lord in his creation. May the love of the Lord keep you close to him always Amen.


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