Question: Can the name influence one’s character? I was always sure that the books about the meaning of names were something of the horoscope’s kind. However, I have recently found out that priest Pavel Florensky also thought that the name could influence the identity of a person. Does it mean that the name given to a child may affect his identity and prevail eventually? Can several letters of a name be so meaningful?
Answer: I believe, Fr. Pavel meant something a bit different. The name itself will not influence a person, but still there is some connection with the saint in whose honor you are named. After all, during the Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, you establish the connection with your future patron saint.
I think it is wrong to say that a person’s life is predetermined by his name. Almost all saints showed us, those who bear their names, the example of living with their spiritual feats and their love towards Christ. It is not just a combination of letters what has power – it is the spirit that inspires our names. This is why the spirit should be foremost, not letters.
Of course, there is nothing accidental in the world. This is why names should have certain influence, but this influence is not fatal. You give the name to your son or your grandson, you advise your close people to give a certain name to their child – you have certain associations, you put some sense in this name. Some people give their children the names of their grandparents, and here there is a connection to – they are your close relatives, after all… I think, all of this has a certain meaning, because there is nothing chaotic in this world.
Priest Pavel Florensky was a rather sensible person, who tries to explain and express his own perception of the world in such a way. This all is quite interesting, but this is not a theorem. Perhaps, we can say that it is a beautiful theory.