Catholic Youth Ministry: In the Name

by gary-foote on January 3, 2011

Have you ever been called the wrong name? For some reason there have been many times in my life where someone just hasn’t got my name down. As a kid, my Mom would often times call me a hodgepodge of all of her children’s’ names, “AnDanGar” and would end up by saying, “whoever you are.” I also remember taking a graduate theology course where the professor repetitively called me Jim. This was especially funny to me because this particular course was an “immersion course” where we met three hours every day for three weeks, and there was only me and one other student in the class.

When someone knows our name, it can make us feel a variety of things: acceptance, peace, joy, etc. There is something very special about being called by name. When we are acknowledged by our name, we know that we matter enough for someone to know us for who we are, not just another face amongst a crowd.

Often times, we can forget the significance of knowing someone’s name in our youth ministry programs. As Catholic youth ministers, we seem to be especially good at forgetting the names of those we work with. We can get caught up in the “numbers game” wondering if we have more teens than the week before or the neighboring parish. When we get distracted by these miniscule things, we forget that there is someone unique and irreplaceable right before our very eyes, waiting for us to call them by name. When we reach out and recognize this, more opportunities for conversion can take place. How do I know this to be a fact? Well, I’d love to tell you that I’m just that clever, but the reality is that Jesus models the importance of knowing someone’s name in His ministry. He calls out the Apostles. He yells to Zacchaeus by name, and doesn’t just say, “Hey you!” Knowing a name makes a huge difference.

I would be remiss to not mention the most beautiful and powerful of all names, Jesus. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “the name ‘Jesus’ contains all… His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies” (CCC 2666). How beautiful is the name of our Lord! Remind your youth that Jesus’ name is beautiful, is powerful, and that it is sacred. Help them understand that using the Lord’s name inappropriately robs God of the glory that He is due. The name “Jesus” isn’t a curse word, an adjective, or an exclamation for something surprising. His name is something much more wonderful. I think that Richard Rolle puts it best:

If you think the name ‘Jesus’ continually, it purges your sin and kindles your heart; it clarifies your soul, it removes anger and does away with slowness. It wounds in love and fulfills charity. It chases the devil and puts out dread. It opens heaven and makes you a contemplative. It puts all vices and phantoms out from the lover.

-Lord Jesus Christ, please pray for us. Thank you for revealing yourself to us and calling us each by name to know love and serve you.- Until next time, Gary Foote.

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