"This is how all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." -Jesus
Jesus did not say all would know His disciples by the symbolism they embrace. He didn't say that crucifixes or icons, rosaries or monstrances, postures or prayers showed forth love or proved discipleship. So where does symbolism fit in here? Why is it even necessary? Its my opinion that symbolism makes any relationship more meaningful. Symbolism could take the form of a gift, a picture, a memento, a song, a card, a letter. Symbolism is history, presence & hope for the future. Without symbolism in a relationship, things tend to stagnate or fizzle.
For the Christian (and even more specifically the Catholic Christian), symbolism is a manifestation of the salvific love language that God first spoke to us. We, in turn, speak it to one another out of our love for Him. Through the language of symbolism, we remind ourselves & each other Who our God is. We proclaim what He's done, what He's doing & what He has promised to do. We're reminded of the forerunners who paved the way of faith before us. We're reminded of our own heavenly citizenship- that we are not of this world. We're reminded to humble ourselves that He may lift us up & that we are not alone in this world. He has not left us as orphans. He has given us symbolism to guide us, to strengthen us & to show forth His love. Thanks be to God.