Q. 1. At our Church, no one can be baptized unless the name of a saint is chosen for the one to be baptized. Is this a new Catholic rule?
A. 1. According to Canon Law # 855, "parents, sponsors and parish priests are to take care that a name is not given that is foreign to Christian sentiment."
Since the 1980's, many parents have chosen strange names for their children. This has lead to the ridicule and persecution of many children during their tender years of education.
Sometime it becomes necessary for the priest to put his foot down and demand what is right for the child in order to bring back into reality.
What benefit is there to calling children "Cadillac" (favourite car), "Chevy" (Chevy Chase Movie), Presley (Elvis Presly the singer), or other names that are a mere reflection of the parent's materialistic interests and idols. Such names fall short of promoting spiritual growth in harmony with the Sacrament of Baptism.
Q. 2. What did the Catholic Tradition dictate when giving a child a Christian name?
A. 2. The unwritten Catholic Tradition dictates that children to be baptized should be given the name of a Saint. The following examples explain how Catholic names were chosen in the past.
1 st boy: Joseph John Anthony Smith
2 nd boy: Joseph Henry Robert Smith
3 rd boy: Joseph Francis Donald Smith
1 st girl: Mary Magdeleine Esther Smith
2 nd girl: Mary Agnes Anna Smith
3 rd girl: Mary Claire Monica Smith
Each child has 3 surnames and 1 family name.
The first name of every boy is always Joseph. The first name of every girl is always Mary. These names represent the names of Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus.
The second name represents the child's given name, the name of a female saint for a girl and the name of a male saint for a boy.
The third name represents, if it is the first girl or the first boy in the family, the name of the mother for the girl and the name of the father for the boy. For all the other children, the 2 nd, the 3 rd, etc..., the third name is the name of the godmother for a girl and the name of the godfather for a boy.
Therefore, the names are..
(Joseph or Mary)(A Saint)(The parent [1 st] / godparent [2+])(Family name)
As a general rule, the child is called by the name of the Saint when spoken to. When he/she writes his/her name, it involves writing the name of the saint and the family name. If an initial must be used, it is the initial of the 3 rd name, the name of the parent or godparent, which ever applies.