Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What's In a Name?

My Name is Michael not Mike

When I was born on March 13, 1950, my parents named me Michael.  To be exact they named me Michael Anthony, two good and popular names for Catholic children of that era. 

When I was confirmed I got to select another name for myself.  I was young for my grade, about 2 years younger than most in my class, and there was a particular boy that I admired for his kindness to me and to everyone else without exclusion, so I took the name Paul.  As we have grown older, that Paul and I have become friends, and live a short distance from each other.  We do not see each other often, but enjoy the times that we share.

I am not sure why my parents picked Michael for me.  There was no family history of the name, and besides me only one cousin has born the name to my knowledge, Michael Sweet, who was shot and killed in the line of duty as a Metro Toronto police officer on March 14, 1980, on an overnight shift that began on my birthday.  We were not close, but I enjoyed the time that I spent with him as a kid.  As he was a year older than me, I think that his birth gave the idea for the name to my parents.

When I was young, people called me Mike, including and especially my Grandfather, the original Anthony of my name.  Though he was Anthony, he was called Andy by everybody who was an adult.  Andy suited his smile and his laugh, so I never thought about it. 

But, I was never Mike to my mother, I was Michael, and my mother often told a story of her taking me out for a walk in front of our house, when a neighbour from down the street came walking by.  The neighbour asked my name and age, and I responded over my mother saying: "My name Michael Brandon.  He two in March," mimicking words I had heard my mother say.

So, somewhere along the line, I decided that I was not a Mike, but a Michael, and when asked my name or introducing myself, would do so as Michael.  Then, of course, it would drive me nuts, though quietly, when someone who I had just told my name, would then call me Mike, in some sort of effort at familiarity.

The name "Michael" is a humbling name.  It is a Hebrew name, and means rhetorically "Who is like God?", "el" being a word for God.  So, in its meaning, it is something like me calling my blog, "Freedom Through Truth", which is also meant to humble me to seek truth over being right when I write things.  So, for me my name reminds me that I am created in God's image, but that looks can be deceiving, because though created thus, my actions speak louder than my words, and even those are often suspect.

Reflection from the magnificat.ca site here. Saint Michael is not only the protector of the Church, but of every faithful soul. By humility he defeated the devil; we who are enlisted in the same warfare must adopt his weapons — humility and ardent love of God. Regarding this Archangel as our leader under God, let us courageously resist the devil in all his assaults with our protector’s famous exclamation: “Who is like unto God?”

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do you, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

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