The name Barack has moved up a record 10,126 places to become 2409th most popular name for baby boys (USA Today, 5/8/2009). Miley (after teen idol Miley Cyrus) is the 127th most popular name for a baby girl.
When our babies were due to be born, we always had a short list of names ready. After he or she was born, we would study the baby and choose the name. Our firstborn was going to be Lenore, Lianna, or Cordelia. Though we didn’t name her after King Lear’s truthful daughter, she was born on Shakespeare’s birthday.
For our boys, we always made sure the name would sound good on the baseball field.
“Ray Bennett, third base!” (That sounds solid! And he did turn out to be a superb third baseman.)
Our second boy was going to be Elijah, all the way up to the moment of his birth. (“Eli Bennett, third base!” has a major league ring.) But then, as we looked at his chubby pink cheeks, big blue eyes and button nose, we decided that he looked more like the boy Samuel who heard the voice of God calling him in the night (1 Samuel 3).
Plus, “Sam Bennett, third base!” sounded perfect.
One of the Hall of Fame players in the great ballgame of life, Saint Raymond of Penafort, was watching out for our Ray, because he was born on Saint Raymond’s feast day. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “The patron saint provides a model of charity; we are assured of his intercession.”
Everyone’s name is sacred, the Church tells us, because God calls each of us--even as we are being formed in the womb--by our name (Isaiah 43:1). Sounding like a major league ballplayer or being named after a president or a popular female singer is not quite on a par with being named for a saint who will intercede for you from heaven. Nonetheless, I am sure the saints and angels are praying even now for all the little Baracks and Mileys, future saints.