I Have Called You By Name

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I saw this post on a blog I read regularly and thought it would be good to share it here. You can click through there or click on the tweet to expand below:

We long to be known, it is one of our deepest needs. To be known for who we are! This begins with something as simple as someone knowing your name, it’s the first step to being known.

Most Catholics sit in the same seats every week for years and see the same people. They know things about them like “their kid smiles a lot” or “this kid cries every week” or “she’s always wearing a short skirt” or “I hope she decides not to sing this week because she is always off key and off beat and too loud” or “he’s here every Sunday and doesn’t seem to be married.”

But we don’t really know them, those are just our annoyed observations of them (or are those just my annoyed observations of some of the people around me? I’ll only claim those last ones for my most common pew neighbors!).

A few weeks ago I was at a Diocesan meeting in the southwest and one of the participants shared that she has taken it upon herself to officially meet and learn the names of the people who sit near her at Mass. She said she’s only been doing it a few weeks, but now the people she’s gotten to know also want to know each other. She’s creating community.

As one of the comments in the thread points out ‘Church isn’t a social activity and Churches aren’t social halls,’ but we do attend Mass to worship the Lord as a community. If we could do the same thing at home as individuals, then my Sunday mornings would involve a lot more sleeping in. We are the body of Christ, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12, “the body is not a single part” or a collection of separate parts.

We are a community, the Body of Christ, a parish family … and family members should know each other’s names, especially when they see each other every week. It creates a sense of belonging and fulfills our innate need to be known.

What can your parish do to ensure both visitors and parishioners are known?

  • Name Tag Sunday: Hand out name tags before Mass so both fellow parishioners and clergy can greet people by name.
  • Greeting Before Mass: At my parish we greet one another before Mass to say “good morning” and this has replaced the traditional sign of peace later in the Mass. What if we all said “Good Morning, I’m Katie*, nice to see you again this morning” to everyone rather than a cursory “morning”? (*of course, insert your name!)
  • Team of Greeters: Establish a team of greeters before Mass to welcome people and introduce themselves to visitors. Unfortunately most visitors tend to stick out since they might not be familiar with the particulars of your church building … this will help with your introductions.

The point of the Mass is not to get to know one another, but if we can fulfill our neighbor’s innate need to be known, then they might be more open to encountering the Lord while at Mass. We learn how God loves us by being loved by others … so if others don’t care about even something as simple as our name, how will we learn that God wants to know us infinitely more?

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