Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Embracing Symbolism, Embracing Life

Today I felt compelled to attend Adoration again. I had planned to go to the early morning mass (but slept in). Ok, so maybe I would make it in time to see the priest put the host in the monstrance (nope). I waged an internal war with myself to get out of bed, let alone drive out to the church. Of course, once I got up, I had other things to do- more important things like dishes & laundry. Eventually, I made it out the door & arrived just before the noon hour. The guardian on duty was an older lady I knew & it was just she & me for a while. A few others arrived as the hour progressed. I knelt & then sat before the Blessed Sacrament, feeling much the same as I had last time. It was as if my senses were flooded, overwhelmed, yet at the same time, I felt incredible peace. Today I had difficulty "seeing" beyond the monstrance. Were we really "keeping Jesus company"? Did He really live in that box off to the side- the tabernacle- when He wasn't displayed for all to see? Did Jesus really mean for us to believe such things? Did He mean for us to remember Him in this way? Did He forsee that we might forget the origins of our faith without tangible reminders? Does this expression of faith signify weakness or strength? Why don't Protestants "need" this stuff, these outward symbols, these gestures of respect & reverence?

I know symbolism makes me feel very different about my faith. Every day I wake, I see the crucifix & the rosary beads on the wall. I see the distinctly Catholic Bible & my RCIA notebook sitting on the table. The Catholic Catechism & a pile of other Catholic books have found their home on my nightstand. And every day, I put on the St. Benedict medal & remember that the letters on the back stand for a Latin prayer- something to the effect of saying no to the temptations of the devil. These things help me remember every single day that I am the Lord's, that I am on a journey, that this is real. As a Protestant, I might have my bible, a bare cross & maybe a few devotional books to aid me in prayer. Mary & the saints never crossed my mind & I rarely thought of Jesus' sacrifice. I never thought about my duty to love God & my neighbor. I rarely thought of social justice. As I embrace the symbolism of the Catholic expression, I have begun to embrace all these things as well & so it seems, even a new sense of life. If Jesus is present in the Eucharist, what a great gift this is! And even if He isn't, the symbolism alone suffices...

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