I’m pretty sure you know what that means.
We use emojis like this all the time in our text messages, social media posts, and our emails.
These symbols express a thought quickly and easily.
There are lots of other places where we see and use symbols.
Like on road signs … outside doors to tell us what a room is for … and in advertising.
Symbols are a type of visual language that doesn’t rely on a specific spoken language to understand.
Merriam-Webster defines a symbol as:
Something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance.
Symbols really come in handy when you’re in a foreign country or are otherwise trying to speak to someone who doesn’t speak English. That’s usually when a lot of hand signals start to get thrown around.
Emojis may be relatively new, but symbols are not.
The oldest symbols are found in the caves of Africa, dating back more than 50,000 years ago!
It’s no wonder Catholicism is chock full of symbols. It seems they are everywhere you look.
In stained glass windows, above the crucifix, on the altar, on candles, on the priest’s vestments, on the missals, etc. etc. etc.
But do we know what they all mean?
The Lord speaks to us through these symbols, so we should make sure we understand what He is saying.
This week’s issue of Genuflect looks at some of the symbols of Catholicism that we might take for granted … or need a refresher on. We look at their meaning, and how they originated. We also look at what Sacramentals are … and a former symbol that is starting to make a comeback.
I can tell you I learned a thing or two.
that you do too!
P. S. If you need help with emojis, check out this site.
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The Catholic world is filled with both visual and verbal symbolism, and nowhere more so than in worship and ritual. Every word and action in Catholic rituals point beyond themselves to the divine life of God and the believer’s salvation.
Signs and symbols play a vital role as objects upon which thoughts and prayers can be focused. They point a way through the spiritual world, act as badges of faith, teaching tools, and aids on the journey towards understanding complex philosophies. Here is a list of 10 Catholic symbols, along with descriptions and meanings of each.
Even though candles no longer have a practical purpose, the Church still requires their use in the liturgy. The Church believes that the natural beauty of candles can have a spiritual impact on our souls. Here’s why.
We take holy water for granted most of the time. If we use it regularly, that’s an easy thing to do. The fact of the matter is that holy water is a powerful sacramental and we ought to use it daily. To prevent us from using it without thinking, we should consciously find ways to use it more. Here is a list of eight ways to use holy water in your everyday life.
The use of incense goes far back in time. The reference books tell us that incense was in common use in Near East countries, burnt for its perfume. Are they suggesting incense was an ancient kind of air freshener? From a secular use it passed into religious service. Here’s what incense has come to mean in Cathoic ceremonies.
Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) was the first person to institute a specific liturgical color scheme. He named four colors: white, red, black and green to be used during the Church year. Today the Church recognizes six liturgical colors. Here’s what the colors mean and when they are used.
Actually, the wearing of religious medals is a very ancient tradition in our Church. This practice may have resulted from “baptizing” what was once a pagan practice.
The scapular, the two small pieces of wool most people think of when they hear the word, is a sacramental based on an important piece of the monastic habit. Learn more about its history and devotion.
Sacramentals — what are they and what role do they play in Catholic liturgical life? Are they blessed devotional articles or objects of popular devotion like scapulars, or are they blessings? Can they be found in the Bible, either the Old or New Testament? Were they instituted by the Christ or by the Church? This article answers these questions.
Across the scores of undergraduate students who populate our pews for Mass, we’ve seen a decided uptick in one particular demographic: young women who elect to wear the mantilla or “chapel veil” during the celebration of Mass. The practice of head-covering has deep roots in religious practices of the ancient world, as well as continued traditions of cultural piety in Euro-North American contexts.
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