Poll: Names at Communion

[poll id=”3″]


  1. I wish I could stuff the ballot box full of NO.

    See also: Should the priest begin with the sign of the cross or with, “Hey, good morning! How’s everyone doing today? Great to see you! You’ll never guess what I saw on my way to church today…”

      1. I think it’s an apt comparison, different only in degree. Both are forms of adding commentary where the ritual does not allow. Adding the communicant’s name to this ritual dialog is an illicit practice, not to mention pastorally inappropriate for the reasons outlined by other commenters.

      2. It strikes me as extra-ritual dialogue, on par with a homily. especially one that goes on too long. But yes: my vote is no because, while well-intentioned, it separates worshippers into the country club in-crowd and the outsiders.

  2. I voted no because I assume the question is posed in the context of a Sunday Mass. Unless you know everyone’s name it is inappropriate to say only some names. That said, in a small weekday Mass, or even a home Mass for a small group where everyone knows everyone else I can’t see the harm.

    1. I agree. Addressing some communicants by name but not others introduces what could be seen as an invidious distinction into the Communion rite. We know what St Paul had to say about that.

    2. I agree with Charles. And I have personally experienced being in the Communion line behind someone who was addressed by name when the priest did not know mine as I was a visitor. It doesn’t bother me, but I am sure that some would feel like second-class citizens in that situation.

    3. I have a family member who is an EMHC. Whenever I attend Mass at this minister’s church on visits, this situation tends to occur. I will walk forward in the Communion line, hear nobody’s name mentioned, arrive at the front of the line and be addressed by name. Once I receive and begin walking, I hear nobody’s name mentioned after that. Later, at family gatherings, this topic will sometimes arise and I will ask politely and specifically NOT to be addressed by name for reasons already mentioned on this forum. My concerns are waved off with “Oh, everyone knows we’re related! It’s no big thing!” I respond that it’s significant to me, as it distracts me and prevents me from focusing on the moment–suddenly hearing your name does that. This is deemed insufficient, and I continue to be addressed by name when I approach for Communion, despite comments about how awkward and singled-out it makes me feel.

      To be clear, I believe in being friendly and hospitable, but I don’t see how this specific action adds anything to the Mass, other than a perception that some people are more welcome than others.

  3. No, since it sends the wrong message to the “strangers” in the communion line and can put the person distributing in an awkward position if he doesn’t remember a name for someone he might have met and talked with (and thus “should” remember).

    I’ve worked in k-12 education for my whole career and have seen how crushing it can be for a kid to realize you don’t know their name in situations where you can say other kids’ names. You might have the valid excuse of needing to know 500+ names (as I do), but it can still send the wrong message to someone who might be struggling emotionally.

  4. I sometimes reflect on whom I am presenting to whom. It would be awkward to say out loud, “Lord Jesus, this person is your body.” I mean, he knows it, but I need from time to time to remember it. I voted No on the survey.

  5. I voted “no” because my intuition is that in some way the ‘personalizing’ is also a de-ritualizing of the ritual.

    1. I agree with Jim b/c I see it more as an acclamation/response and not a conversation. Also, individualizing the reception of communion undermines the communitarian nature of the procession. That’s just my intuition as an M.Div., I’m not really a liturgist. Does my take ring with anybody here?

  6. I voted no because when I am an extraordinary minister of communion, it is not about me and the person receiving communion. It is about that person and the assembly as celebrant. Using a person’s name can make it about me and them. And, I am dreadful with names!!!

  7. Among Orthodox congregations the priest names the communicant before he or she receives. This is, however, in a context where few receive and those who do do, at least in churches of Russian tradition, have celebrated the Sacrament of Penance beforehand.


    1. In my wife’s Russian Orthodox Church if the communicant is unknown to the priest, s/he is asked to present a card with the name written thereon as an aide-memoire. Of course it is assumed that the person has confessed, fasted and recited the appointed prayers before approaching.

  8. Well, we use names when people are baptized, confirmed, exchange wedding vows. If I am a visitor at a parish, I would not expect the minister to know my name, and so would not be offended.

  9. I vote no but when distributing Communion and a close friend steps forward I sometimes slip. But usually I don’t because when the person who thinks we know each other by name steps up and my brain can’t keep up with my distributing hand or worse yet, calling some one by a name they are not.

    I do agree with a home mass setting where you might know all people present.

  10. To come at this from a different angle, one thing to consider is that addressing someone by name in a ritual context can come with the residue of an assertion of possession and jurisdiction.

  11. I feel I need to wade into this discussion because what is being written does not seem to resemble the communion rite that I understand or in which I participate, even though I’m not advocating for the required use of names. I have 3 points. (1) Feeding another person is an intimate act. It is not impersonal, nor is it meant to be. (And thus the proscription of communicants simply taking the bread or cup on their own.) Thus the probative comment of “accidentally” saying a persons name. That, to me, is the natural welling-up of the personal contact: it is the sacrament being expressed! While I don’t usually have my name said, I do make eye contact with the person from whom I am receiving, and when it’s someone I know well, a smile often comes next. I found myself recently receiving from a woman whom I only knew from working to serve meals in a shelter. I cannot tell you how choked up I was to realize she who had fed the homeless, was now feeding me. Such an experience is only possible because the minister is not a cipher. (2) And what happens when you hear the minister use another’s name when they receive, and omits yours? Last time I checked, communion is supposed to be accompanied by a hymn or chant. In the midst of that song, will you indeed hear what the minister says to the person in front of you? Especially if you are singing yourself? Children may indeed feel bad if their name is not mentioned when others are. They’re children! We expect more from adults. And let’s be realistic: whose memory is so prodigious as to know an entire assembly? Even if names were being used, most communicants would not be named every time….bear in mind that there are two ministers, bread and cup, and thus two chances to be “unnamed”. In other words, even in a place where it was encouraged, most, I suspect, would not be known to other ministers. And as to the “slight” that forgetting a name would represent: if this is your issue, you have serious work ahead. (3) CONTINUED…..

  12. (3) This all being said, I harbor no passion to tell the ministers to wade into naming. When it spontaneously appears, I’d welcome it. When it’s forced, it would be a real negative. To me, the worst option is to make it a rule either way. Let this intimate exchange retain the character of the participants. “For Christ plays in ten thousand places,/ Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his/ To the Father through the features of men’s faces.”

  13. It depends on the tradition. Roman tradition: No. Byzantine tradition: Yes. (Maybe some other Eastern traditions have that as well. I am not aware.).
    Bottom line, the question is not clear enough. Didn’t vote either way.

  14. Some of the churches I preside and preach at (I am retired) have members wear name tags. When I seen one, I use their name (we still kneel at the rail for the reception of the Sacrament). If I am serving a parish without name tags, I don’t use anyone’s name, even if I know them personally. I try to be the same with everyone.

  15. If the question was “may the priest or CM address the communicant by name”, I would emphatically respond “yes”. For the sam reason it is used in the other sacraments of initiation, and in matrimony, and in the anointing of the sick. But I would not oblige anyone to do this. Nor would I claim that doing so adds something not permitted to the Rite. Nonsense.

  16. There is a distance between the Byzantine formula ‘The Servant of God N. receives the precious Body … (something like that) and the implied ‘you’ in the Roman Formula (explicit in the EF form). Maybe one can have too much intimacy. I never make eye contact. I ask people to look at the Host not at me. I do the same.


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