A COMMUNITY of enclosed nuns has joined forces with a group of friars to try to lessen the use of the name 'Jesus' to express frustration or surprise.
Many visitors to Ireland are stunned that in a traditionally Catholic country, the name of 'Jesus' is used irreverently.
However, the Poor Clare Sisters in Galway and the Franciscan friars have earmarked 2014 as the year in which they hope to increase respect among Irish people for the "Holy Name of Jesus" and they have secured Pope Francis's approval for their efforts.
They will promote a series of prayers, religious hymns and reflections aimed at fostering a renewed reverence for the name of Jesus, including when it is used colloquially as 'Jaysus'.
Speaking about the Holy Name devotion, Fr Hugh McKenna, Minister Provincial of the Franciscan Order, said it was an opportunity for Christians to rekindle a love for the name.
"We invoke the name of Jesus so easily and very often so carelessly without realising the significance and power of this name that has been venerated down through the centuries," he said.
According to Fr McKenna, from the earliest days of Christianity people considered the name to have "an intrinsic divine power".
"Wherever the name of Jesus is spoken or displayed, the power of Jesus can be called upon to obtain peace, holiness and as a protection from evil," he said.
Meanwhile, Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence to the Irish faithful who participate in these devotions honouring the Holy Name of Jesus over the course of 2014.
Pope Francis himself is known to have a personal devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, which is often represented as the monogram IHS. On election last March, he chose to include the monogram on his papal crest.
Responding to the news of Pope Francis's backing for the Irish year of devotion, the mother abbess of the Poor Sisters said they were "thrilled".
Sr Colette Hayden told the Irish Independent that the jubilee year was even bigger than the indulgence as it was "a sign of God's lavish mercy. It is like the celebration of a wedding anniversary." The Vatican stated that Pope Francis "most willingly expressing his paternal benevolence, grants a Jubilee Year with the attached Plenary Indulgence".
"We believe this devotion is very relevant to the times we are living in. People are really struggling with things like sickness, financial worries and depression and are looking for serenity in their lives," Sr Colette said.