August 4, 2017

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Dear God, what’s in a name? Plenty

Debra TomaselliThe Lord’s voice is typically subtle, but he’s always there … even in the small stuff. Every detail matters. Nothing is too insignificant for him.

I was reminded of that recently, when, on an uneventful weekday morning, I found myself pondering our youngest grandson’s name.

Seriously, I don’t know what made me wonder about Dominic’s name that particular day, but I kept thinking about it as I got ready for Mass. And I couldn’t quit.

After all, there’s a definite pattern to his siblings’ names, but his name, Dominic, is clearly out-of-sync.

Let me explain: There are the girls, named Ave, Angelina, Abigail (who was stillborn) and Ayla. All their names begin with an “a.” It’s a nice, tight package.

And there are the boys, Matthew, James and Dominic. The first two sound like Gospel writers, right? Then we have Dominic … definitely not a Gospel writer. Wouldn’t Mark or John have been a better match? What about Luke or Paul?

Actually, this wasn’t the first time I realized Dominic’s name didn’t follow suit. However, that particular day, I couldn’t shake the thought. I wondered … was it even a holy name?

Washing my face, I laughed at my silly ideas. After all, it was too late. Dominic was already a toddler. There was no changing his name.

But, brushing my hair, I continued to speculate, mouthing his name: Dominic. That name is so different, I thought. It wasn’t a family name. Really, why Dominic? Where was the holiness?

Grabbing my keys, I drove along a shady, tree-lined street to church. Parking the car, I headed inside, forgetting about my earlier obsession with Dominic’s name.

Little did I know, but God didn’t forget. He had already prepared a message for me.

The priest approached the altar, stood at the ambo, and welcomed the congregation. Then, much to my surprise, he announced that today was the Feast of St. Dominic.

My head spun, remembering how, on that morning in particular, I’d been obsessed with my little grandson’s name. I’d wondered why he didn’t have a Gospel writers’ name like his brothers. I’d even questioned if his was a holy name.

Amazing, isn’t it? What are the odds I would be wrestling with Dominic’s name on the day that, unbeknownst to me, happened to be the Feast of St. Dominic?

The priest’s homily was about St. Dominic, and his sermon seemed tailor-made for me. I learned the saint was a spirited evangelist.

Clearly God was happy with Dominic’s name. It didn’t have to be a Gospel writers’ name. It didn’t have to be a family name. Rest assured, Dominic is a holy name.

When writing this column, I felt reluctant to share something as trivial as my grandson’s name. But this story packs a powerful message.

It reminds us that our God is with us. He cares, he leads, he speaks, he guides. He knows our every thought. He knows when we sit, and when we stand.

Indeed, he’s interested in the smallest details of our lives.

After all, what’s in a name?

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at

Local site Links: