Earlier this year I waxed somewhat poetically about the names that were given to me by my parents. Names (not just my own) still are somewhat fascinating to me. I thought of this the other day when talking to my son. Before he was born, my wife and I were leaning heavily towards calling him “Gus”. My grandfather’s nickname was Gus, and it was one that not only we both liked, but would most likely be unique among his peers. The only issue was that we could not agree on what Gus should be short for. I wanted Augustine, after St. Augustine, the great theologian, philosopher, and church father. Lovely Wife leaned toward Gustav because, well, she liked it. When he was born we settled on a different name, but then it was suggested that we use Gus for a middle name. The debate was renewed. Finally, after several minutes of back and forth, Lovely Wife said, “What about just Gus?” So Gus it is.
Well, interestingly enough, often times now Little Guy will seem to ignore you if you use his first name, but pays immediate attention if you call him Gus. Maybe it was meant to be in the end. It will be up to him what he goes by as he gets older, but for myself, it turns out that I find myself calling him Gus about half the time.
That got me thinking about my own name. In the Catholic tradition it is commonplace to give your child at least one saint’s name. Alas, to this point there is still no St. Ryan. My middle name is David, and while there are a few St. Davids, none are particularly well-known (King David of the old testament is not a Saint.) This got me curious about St. Stephen (Stephen being the name given to me at birth). I knew his story well–he is often known as St. Stephen the Martyr, as he is recorded to be the first martyr as seen in Acts 7:58. I looked on the list of saints on catholic.org, and learned that St. Stephen’s feast day was December 26. Most people would think “Oh yeah, good King Wenceslaus looked about, on the feast of Stephen…”, but my first thought was that December 26 was my parents anniversary. Not only had they adopted a son originally named Stephen, but had also nearly named me Stephen themselves. One of those odd syncronicities that I have run into quite a bit. Curious, I looked up who feast day fell on my birthday, and found out that it was Sts. Joachim and Anne. If you are unfamiliar with them, they are the traditional/legendary parents of Our Lady. Interestingly enough, from my point of view at least, St. Anne is the patron saint of mothers.
Finally, today, I wanted to share with you my tattoo that I got a few weeks ago. I wanted something that would be unique to myself, while honoring both my names and families. With the help of Erin at The Electric Crayon, this is what I was able to come up with: