Wednesday, January 9, 2013

We Named Him Ignatius

“So what are you going to call him?”

And so it begins.  Round 2 in weird Catholic baby names. 

When our oldest son Augustine was born, there was lots of confusion on the part of people asking what his name was.  Either they misheard (“Justin?  What a nice name.” or “Augustus?”) or they mispronounced it, especially if they were from a different faith tradition.  Many a nurse has called for Augusteen across a crowded waiting room.

Now this year on Christmas Day we welcomed a handsome almost nine-pound bundle (whose mother had become hooked on the Food Network show Cupcake Wars in the months preceding his birth, no doubt lending itself to his most scrumptious plump cheeks), and it was no sooner when he had been cleaned up when the staff began asking about his name.

My husband and I glanced at each other.  Were we sure?  We were, in fact, and had been for nine months.  For many years, we had greatly admired and felt a strong connection to St. Ignatius of Antioch, the valiant martyr of the second century, the man who simply could not wait to be eaten by lions for the love of Christ.  We even had had the opportunity to pray for the very new baby on board this spring when we were in Rome visiting the tomb of St. Ignatius.  A proponent of the real presence in the Eucharist, of unity among believers, of obedience to the bishop, we’ve felt strongly for a long time that St. Ignatius is a man for our times.  And for our baby—it feels as though he’s going to need a strong intercessor in these times to come.  But that was too much to tell the staff in the delivery room, so we simply said, “Ignatius,” and smiled at each other.

In the days following his birth, I tried not to worry about how other people perceived his name.  Everyone had been very polite and remarked on what a beautiful or interesting name it was.  No one actually said what they might have been thinking, “Are you serious?”  Filling out the birth certificate paperwork, I tried to banish thoughts of how our little guy might grow up to hate us.  With God’s grace, we pray that both of our little boys might learn to love their strong, courageous patrons, that they take comfort in knowing that they have their own superheroes praying for and watching out for them in a special way, and that someday—hopefully sooner rather than later—they might aim to imitate them.

In the meantime, we’ve got a tiny baby with a big name that can make casual grocery store exchanges awkward.  But lest I begin to doubt our choice of names, I need only to remember this Epiphany when our dear priest friend poured holy water over our son’s soft, fuzzy head and said, “Ignatius Michael, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” and it sounded so right—I knew that we had picked a good name for our little boy.  And I think St. Ignatius agrees. 
 

5 comments:

  1. Hello Meg - I found your blog through the NCR and just wanted to let you know that I think Ignatius is a lovely name. Augustine is also a great choice, and one that is on my short list of baby boy names as well if we are blessed with another boy at some point. We recently had a Leo around here (Pope St. Leo the Great being his patron - a scholar, a writer, an excellent negotiator, and a fighter against heresy. We pray our Leo may be blessed with those qualities as well!) and already we've been asked if we named him that for his astrological sign. Hmmm... no. He was born in November. Either way, enjoy your new baby boy and don't worry if anyone gives you an odd look. Your little boy will grow into his big name soon enough.

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    1. Leo--I love it! And that's funny about being asked about his astrological sign. Oh man--well, we're so blessed to have something--someone! holy men and women!--so much more powerful than 'signs' looking out for our children. Our faith is so beautiful--thanks for writing!

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  2. And I agree! CONGRATULATIONS on this wonderful baby boy!!! Perhaps his name will be a place to witness from ...you know - you never know - I was just talking to someone about how when my daughter was born 30 years ago, you never heard Brianne, and all I got was "Brian?! why did you name your baby girl with a boys name?!" - as if "anne" was invisible! - and now - Brianne is 'all over' - so perhaps his name, too!

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    1. Oh, that's really funny about people mistaking the name for Brian! Yes, I do think it might very well be a place to witness from, as names are such important things in people's lives. Thanks so much for writing--God bless!

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  3. My friend sent me the link to your post on catholicmom.com, but I couldn't comment there for some reason. But, I really had to LOL at your post!! We have an Ignatius and an Augustine, too. :) Ignatius Anthony was born Sept. 2006. We also debated about whether we could actually go through with naming him something so different. He was without a name for the full 3 days I was in the hospital following my cesarean. We finally made the decision right before discharge. He is actually named after St. Ignatius of Loyola, though, as my husband and I attended Jesuit schools for a combined 12 years. We did get all sorts of comments asking what we were going to call him. We had thought we might call him Iggy, but that never happened. Some relatives, who we see infrequently, still call him Iggy, to which it takes him a minute to realize they are actually talking to him. It has seemed that as he has gotten older, the comments and questions about his name have subsided quite a bit. I guess now, perhaps, his name seems more decided, established, and non-negotiable. LOL! Augustine Joshua was born in Nov. 2008. It has seemed many more people are aware of the name Augustine and are not quite as shocked as they are at hearing Ignatius. Ignatius quickly dubbed his little brother, "baby Gustin" and that name has seemed to stick. Of course, whenever he introduces himself as Gustin, everyone assumes he is saying either Justin or Dustin. His 4 yr old self does get very annoyed at people who call him AugustEEN. LOL! Augustine started calling his big brother "Nay Nay" when he first started talking. Probably because we often drop the first syllable in our haste and just end up saying Natius. We have recently met a 1 year old named Augustine, as well. His older siblings have dubbed him, Gusty. :) When we first named Ignatius, I was wary of all the comments and questions we recieved, but I am definitely glad we made the choice we did. (I also have a third son, born Dec. 2011 named Gabriel Francis.) Congrats on your new little Ignatius! :) Oh, and we also love the Spanish nicknames of Nacho, Tavo (from Gustavo), and Gabo, which we do use on a semi regular basis. And craziest comment so far was a stranger on an airplane asking me if I named Ignatius after a rock!!!! Umm, no, that would be igneous! (But, my parents did name my brother after a rock...his name is Peter. Hehe! Catholic humor!)

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