The Importance of Using Names

This week I watched a program in which a woman was asked about a colleague, the actress Barbara Stanwyck. Her response was that Barbara was unusual in that she made a point to learn the names of everyone who was working on producing the movie, not just the cast but the whole crew. By doing so, Barbara established a relationship with them, and they all loved her. The importance of names came home to me again this week as I edited a book based on the Gospels. The author referred to the mother of James and John as just that and never used her name, Salome. I commented that this was somewhat insulting to this great disciple who supported Jesus and the apostles, stood at the cross, and was one of the first at the tomb of the risen Lord. I reminded the author that someday she might meet this woman face to face and that would be awkward. So Salome is now named in the book!

It’s said that the sound of our name is the sweetest thing we hear. We cringe when it’s mispronounced or mocked. When we forget someone’s name, we are embarrassed. At gatherings, name tags are provided so we learn others’ names. Teenagers write the name of their current loved one over and over, and older folk have their beloved’s names tattooed on them. Our names stand for us.

In the Bible God says, “I have called you by name. You are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). When God speaks to Moses from the burning bush, he first calls his name. And Moses asks to know God’s name. Mary Magdalene realized that the man she assumed was the gardener was Jesus come back from the dead instantly when he pronounced her name. At the end of time, he might call us forth from our grave by name.

Jesus knew the importance of names. That is why he changed Simon’s name to Peter, which means “rock.” It hadn’t been a name until that point. Our names were bestowed on us without our consultation. Do you know what your name means? Do you know why you were given that name?

Like Barbara Stanwyck, we might make an effort to learn the names of those who serve us: not just the waiters and waitresses in a restaurant, but the persons who deliver our mail and packages, the clerks who total our grocery bills, the mechanics who fix our cars, and the people who bring us the newspaper. Then we can add their name when we say, “Thank you.”

What good experiences have you had with names? Bad experiences?



On the Other Side of Fear: How I Found Peace

Hallie Lord

If you are human, at certain times in your life, you experience panic. Hallie Lord has had more than her fair share of challenges—like having her utilities turned off and giving birth to her seventh child alone in the bathroom. In her autobiographical book, as Hallie recounts these scary events, she traces her journey from being fearful and worried to casting out fear by love. You might expect this to be a sad book, but no, it is a delightful read.

Hallie honestly bares her thoughts and feelings as she tells how she rises to one challenge after another. Gradually she recoups her ability to live up to her grandfather’s motto to perform “Feats of Bravery.” Her style is simple and sparked with humor. Even her acknowledgments are entertaining! Quotations and anecdotes from others bolster her main message that we can trust God in all the ups and downs of life. When we do, remarkable things occur. We need not fear.

Besides being a mother, wife, and author, Lord is a Sirius XM radio host and the co-founder of the Edel Gathering for women.






  1. Gabrielle Renoir on February 16, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Hello Sister Kathleen,

    I do not like my first name, Gabrielle, despite the fact that it means “Woman of God.” I much prefer one of my middle names, Camille, though it has no religious meaning. There is, however, a St. Camillus, I believe. I do think it is very important to learn the names of people we work with or attend church with, our neighbors, etc. and use those names in a respectful way. Not knowing a person’s name kind of says we don’t care about him or her, and we should care about all of our bothers and sisters in Christ.


  2. Kathleen Glavich, SND on February 16, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Gabrielle, funny—I think your name is beautiful! It makes me think of the angel Gabriel. And yes, there is a St. Camillus de Lellis, a fascinating character. You should look him up.

  3. Gabrielle Renoir on February 17, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Thank you, Sister Kathleen. I will read about St. Camillus.

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