Question 55

What does “hallowed be thy name” mean?

When praying hallowed be thy name, we remind ourselves to aspire to make God’s ever-holy name held as holy by all men.  In other words, not scorned, which in any account is more an advantage for men than for God.

from St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer by Fr. Ermatinger

Profane not my holy name, that I may be (hallowed) in the midst of the children of Israel. I am the Lord who (hallows) you (Lev 22:32).

In the Our Father, the ‘hallowed be thy name” has three components that are necessary for understanding.  First, the “hallowed”. Second, the “be”. Third, the “name”.

When we speak about “hallow-ness”, what exactly is this quality?

In the Old Testament, the term used for hallow is קָדַשׁ, qāḏaš, which conveys the idea of otherness, something separate and separated from other things, and purity which is focused upon so that the hallowed thing has a certain majesty and grandeur because of its separated-ness and purity.  It is holy and sacred.  It is a thing consecrated (set aside for pure/holy purposes). This is opposed to a thing that is separated because of its impurity and lowliness, i.e. accursed/ abased. In the New Testament, the Greek ἁγιάζω, hagiazō, for hallow carries with it the same connotations.

When we pray for hallowed-ness, we are, on one hand, recognizing the otherness of God, of His purity; that He is not like us, above us in all things, and has this unapproachable purity.  His name is already hallowed, and yet, on the other hand, we are praying for that which already is as if it has not yet begun to be.

Before the mountains were made, or the earth and the world was formed; from eternity and to eternity thou art God (Psa 89:2).

When praying that the Lord’s name “be”, what are we asking for?

The “be” verb here has an “already-but-not-yet” quality to it. God is the Wholly Other One, The Most High, the Pure One, and so on. Before all eternity God was God and even then His name was hallowed. There is no change in God who is the same from everlasting to everlasting. Even in our sin, even in our disobedience and blasphemies, we do not have an impact upon Him.  What we have an impact upon is ourselves and each other. I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the Gentiles, which you have profaned in the midst of them (Ezk 36:23). The “be-ingness” is in relation to us, not God.  God’s name is hallowed because He hallows it by His nature. When we pray that God’s name “be”, we are asking that it “be” that way for us and for others around us.  The prayer is that we hallow His name in our lives and the lives of others by setting it aside instead of trying to ascend to God by our own power or to bring His otherness down to us  (cfr. Rom 10:6-10; Phl 2:6‐8).

When we hallow His name it no longer becomes something that is profaned among the nations due to our sinful and hypocritical actions.

When we pray that God’s name be hallowed, what is His “name”?

There are many appropriate names that man has for God such as the Hebrew Adonai, El Schaddai, El, Elohim, Elion, Kadosch, etc. but two exist by which He has revealed His name to us.  From the Old Testament, YHYH, the tetragrammaton, meaning “I AM WHO I AM”. Being and be-ing is His name.  God is alone; He is solitary in that who He is is not dependent on anything but Himself.  He is purity in that He is not component parts but the wholeness from which everything comes. His name is hallowed because He is, His name IS; truly is purity, simplicity, and otherness.

There is another name by which God has revealed to us Himself: Jesus or YHYH saves. The fullness of revelation is the God-man Jesus, the incarnate Son of the Father, in whom the Holy Spirit resides.  The name which is hallowed and wholly other becomes Jesus, the name by which we who are not other, we who are not set aside, we who are profaned, have this state of be-ing ended. The God who is other now pitches His tent amongst us in order that we might know Him directly.  Humanity is wedded to Divinity and we who hallow the name of Jesus are in turn saved; are hallowed and have a participation in the divine life (cfr. 2 Pet 1:4).

The name of Jesus contains within it the otherness/hallowedness of God, the being, but also the be-ing of God. It is not just name but a verb, it is a path, it is “the Way” so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father (Phl 2:10-11). It is the name of Jesus that brings about the completion of “already-but-not-yet” by making the two in himself into one new man, making peace; And might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross, killing the enmities in himself (Eph 2:15b-16).

Triumph of the Name Jesus (detail), Giovanni Battista Gaulli, 1679