Let's Restore Catholic Greetings
Hello, readers—and to your angels, too!
Our world is increasingly secular; one need only see the proliferation of “Happy Holidays” cards, hear the general disgust at any religious image in a public place, and bemoan the fact that Reese’s and Cadbury Creme Eggs sell out weeks before Easter. There’s a great number of remedies that have been suggested; prayer, homeschooling, actually reading the Bible, and car magnets, among others. And while we may laugh at that last one, everything helps, and everything is needed.
The true remedy, of course, is the Holy Mass. We need holy, reverent Masses. We need to attend them, pray them, and receive Holy Communion worthily. And we must live Christian lives, transformed by the Eucharist. We must not be frivolous or take Holy Mass for granted; if there is one place in which we ought to exert our efforts to promote the reign of Christ the King in the world, it is at the Holy Sacrifice.
Let me add another such suggestion, however, to the “Keep Christ in Christmas” magnets (one of which I own myself, lest you think I am making fun). One transformation the Eucharist effects in us is courage, and another, charity. This courage and charity manifest in our daily and ordinary lives, when we permit them to; and I propose that we allow the virtues given us through the sacraments to manifest in the renewal of Catholic greetings to our brethren.
In some churches around the world, particularly Eastern ones, you will still hear priests or faithful greeting each other this way: Glory to Jesus Christ! one says, and the other responds, Glory Forever! Then the conversation commences. These greetings change by liturgical seasons, for occasions such as the Nativity of Christ, the Theophany [Epiphany], the Baptism of Christ, and the Easter season. The ancient Christians had many such greetings to fellow believers; one knocked at a door, and the one who answered listened for the greeting to know whether a Christian came, or a soldier to arrest. The greeting marked Christians to one another.
Roman Catholics seem to have lost this aspect of Christian culture. We have ritualized greetings for prayers to the angels and saints. Dear Lord… Dear Saint… Hail, Mary… Yet for our friends on Earth, we tend to greet them simply, by name or with a hello; or perhaps a close friend gets greeted with a jest or tease. Some still greet each other with a shadow of the “holy kiss” or “kiss of peace,” but the practice is rare and secularized. These casual greetings are similar whether we’re greeting a Christian or a secular friend. But we ought to be more aware that our Christian friendships are rooted in Christ; we are bonded spiritually through the Communion of Saints. How abundantly will our Christian relationships be blessed, if we never forget this!
In our notes, letters, and emails, we can draw on the example of St. Paul, one of the originators of Christian greetings. After identifying himself, he says: “Grace to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you, for the grace of God that is given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:3). Is there a more lovely way to greet another Christian, other than wishing them grace and peace and offering gratitude for them? He sent them not only a greeting, but a prayer and an invocation of God, and an affirmation that theirs was a holy friendship, no mere earthly bond. Would that we remembered to start all our notes and letters this way.
In conversation, we also ought to acknowledge our friends in Christ. It begins with having a friend who will accept and return your greeting, of course; we cannot suddenly surprise someone and expect reciprocation. Certainly, in most crowds, a Christian greeting would result in mockery, embarrassment, and the label of “weirdo.” But perhaps we can bring it up with close friends of ours. “Why don’t we do as the ancient Christians did? Let’s greet each other in Christ.” The potential awkwardness will turn into a bond between us and our friends; and perhaps others, too, will see our example. They might ask about it; they might be inspired and even join in, growing our circles of friends and offering little reminders of Christ in every conversation that ensues.
If nothing else, the difficulty of exposing our faith so publicly for mockery will serve as a form of mortification and an opportunity for humility.
Let’s restore Catholic greetings; for by doing so, we will deepen our Christian friendships, and bring Christ ever more into our midst. Here are some greetings to consider:
Greet your friend and their angel, too.
“Hello, and to your companion, too.”
From Fr. Paul O’Sullivan in All About the Angels. What better way to deepen our daily awareness of our angels’ presences, and to offer them the honor and respect they do, by acknowledging them aloud when we meet a fellow Christian?
Praise Christ as the first words of your conversation.
Greeting: “Praised be Jesus Christ!” ||| Laudetur Jesus Christus!
Response: “Now and forever, amen!” ||| In saecula saeculorum, amen!
This greeting is still used by many religious orders within their communities.
Greeting: “Blessed be the Name of the Lord!” ||| Sit Nomen Domini benedictum!
Response: “Unto ages of ages, amen!” ||| In saecula saeculorum, amen!
Also a prayer of reparation for sins against the second commandment.
Begin serious conversations with a brief prayer.
“Maranatha! Come, O Lord!” (1 Cor. 16:22)
“Come, Holy Ghost!”
Greet friends according to the season. (Many Eastern Catholic faithful still use these greetings.)
Greeting: “Christ is risen!” ||| Christos anesti! ||| Christus resurrexit!
Response: “He is risen indeed!” ||| Alithos anesti! ||| Vere resurrexit!
or, “Thanks be to God!” ||| Deo gratias!
Greeting: “Christ Is Born!”
Response: “Glorify Him!”
Greeting: “Christ is Among Us!”
Response: “He is and Shall Be!”
Renew your shared sense of purpose as you part ways or begin a task.
"For the greater glory of God!” ||| Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!
Motto of the Jesuit order.
“O Jesus with Mary, be with us on the way.” ||| Jesu cum Maria sit nobis in via!
A favorite prayer of Christopher Columbus.
God wills it! ||| Deus vult!
Rallying cry in the Crusades.
"Not to us, O Lord, but to Thy Name give glory." ||| Non nobis Domine, sed Tuo Nomine da gloriam.
Former motto of the Knights Templar.
Those last few were once battle cries; and they can be, once again. With our fellow Christians at our side, we go into the world to do battle with the forces of evil. With these greetings, even a simple conversation is another shout of encouragement, another rallying cry. As the Cristeros said in the Spanish Civil War: ¡Viva Cristo Rey! Long live Christ the King!
This is absolutely beautiful! I have never heard of or thought of this practice except at Easter time. I would not know the responses if I was greeted in this way, but we can print out what you've written for us here and practice at home. Thank you!
The Irish greeting, dia duit, means may God be with you, and the response, dia is Muire duit, means God and Mary with you. I wonder how many other historically Christian cultures have such greetings in their languages.