Church Symbols

Join us for a virtual tour of the symbols of our faith present within our Church.

crossTHE CROSS

The Cross that hangs above our altar is a jeweled Resurrection Cross, symbol of Christ’s triumph over death in the resurrection. The mandorla (circle) behind our cross is made of many different parts, each of which is important in the creation of the whole, as are the members in the Body of Christ.

 

 

THE ALTARAltar

The Altar is a symbol of Christ, which is why the priest and ministers reverence it (bow) when we process in at the beginning of Mass andbefore processing out at the end of Mass. The altar is also associated with the sacrifice of Christ, and as the Table around which we gather for our shared mealin the Eucharist. Since Vatican II, many church spaces have been renovated (remodeled and renewed) so that the assembly is gathered around the altar, rather than distanced from it.

 

THE AMBOChurch-Ambo

The Ambo could be seen in relation to the altar as the Table of God’s Word. This is the place from which the lectors and presider proclaim the sacred scriptures.

For Catholics, when the Word of God and the Gospel are proclaimed before the assembly gathered at Mass, we believe that God is present, Christ is present, speaking to us.

We are nourished by the Word of God as we are also nourished by the Eucharist.

THE BAPTISMAL FONT

Baptismal-fontThe Font serves as a container for the waters of baptism and is itself a symbol of baptism. In Romans 6: 11 , Paul speaks of those who are baptized as being “dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.” The font is reminiscent of a tomb from which, in baptism, we rise from death into new life in Christ. Since immersion is the form of baptism preferred by the Church, being the fuller and more ancient form of the sacrament, our font allows for the immersion of infants. Adults stand in the lower pool as water is poured over their entire bodies (although full immersion would be preferable). Fonts are often located at the entrances of churches, o in the form of holy water receptacles, as symbols are reminders of our entrance into the Church through baptism.

THE TABERNACLE Church-Tabernacle

Catholics believe that once the bread has been consecrated by the priest it becomes the Body of Christ, therefore whatever is not consumed at Mass is placed in a special place, called the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle serves as a receptacle for the reservation of the Eucharist, so that Communion may be brought to those who are sick and unable to come to the Church.

It also serves as a place of prayer and devotion on the presence of Christ, which is why our Tabernacle is located in the Chapel.

A candle is always kept burning near the Tabernacle in Catholic Churches to represent this continual presence of the light of Christ among us.

THE PASCHAL CANDLE

Paschal-candleThe Paschal or Easter Candle is another important symbol of Christ. Whenever someone is baptized, they receive a baptismal candle which is lit from the Easter Candle and told,

“You have been enlightened by Christ.
Walk always as a child of light and
keep the flame of faith alive in your heart.”

At a funeral, the Paschal Candle is placed next to the casket, recalling that person’s baptism into Christ and the promise of resurrection, as we pray, “May perpetual light shine on them for ever.”

Each year at the Easter Vigil, the Easter Fire is blessed and the new Paschal Candle is lit, as “Christ, our Light” is proclaimed. All the assembly light their candles from this one light, and then the ancient hymn (almost 2000 years old) called the “Exsultet” is chanted. In this hymn to the Light of Christ we hear the following proclamation:

“Rejoice, O earth, shining in splendor, …
Exult in glory! The risen Savior shines upon you!”

We are reminded of the pillar of light that
led Moses and the people of God to freedom – ”
“…this Easter candle, a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God…”
and concludes with these beautiful words:

“May the morning Star which never sets find this lamp still burning:
Christ, (is) that Morning Star, who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all humankind.”