This is where the next symbol comes into play. As we walk further down the center aisle, we will come across another ancient Christian symbol. This one is of the mother pelican and her younglings. When she cannot find food, a mother pelican is known to bite off pieces of her own flesh and feed them to her young. Rather than see them starve, the mother pelican sacrifices herself to give them life. From the most ancient times, Christians came to see in the example of the mother pelican a symbol of the sacrifice of Jesus which we see dis- played front and center in the large crucifix in the center of the sanctuary just above the tabernacle.
This particular crucifix has had a long history with the parish of St. Margaret Mary. It was part of the original church that was the first building the parish used for worship. It still serves as a powerful reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus in which God sacrificed Himself in order to give life to His sons and daughters. All of this, of course, is made real for us Catholic Christians every time we celebrate the Eucharist. Christ’s sacrifice is once again made real on the altar that is the central focus of every Catholic church. The Eucharist is the very reason why we come together in this worship space as a believing community. It is the Eucharist that will help us make sense of our life journey. How does it do that?
After receiving the grace of God in the sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood, we are able then to go back to our lives and look at it from a different perspective. This is where the labyrinth symbol once again becomes an aide for us. What we may experience as “senseless wandering” can now be seen for what it truly is. God’s grace has been guiding us through the journey of life with all of its ups and downs, twists and turns. We then are able to discover that God has been our constant companion all along creating a beautiful pattern out of our lives where not only is He at the very center but He is also our ultimate goal.
We can then go back into the world and learn to remain faithful to our baptismal promises. We leave the sacred space with a renewed awareness of how God has been and remains present and active in our lives. When life’s journey makes us doubt whether God is there or not, the Eucharist we celebrate reminds us that God has never left. When we feel as if our lives are going nowhere and we are not getting any closer to God, the Eucharist gives us the wisdom to understand that God has always been guiding us bringing beauty and harmony out of our lives.
This is the confidence we take with us into the world. This is the message that we must share with others. Our duty as baptized Catholics is to teach others to recognize that God is also present in their lives and come to the Eucharist so that they, too, might be able to discover the presence of God in their own lives.