Nov 24, 2018

The Floor of St. Margaret Mary Parish Church

 

AN EXPLANATION OF THE SYMBOLS

SMM Floor Front

In order to understand the symbols in the newly renovated floor of our parish church, we must look at it as a whole. If we stand just inside the main doors of the church looking in, we will see how everything is connected to one another and leads our attention to the altar upon which the Eucharist is celebrated.

Upon entering the church, the first thing we will come to is the baptismal font. This particular baptismal font has been a part of the parish for many years. It stands at the center of the gathering space because it serves as a reminder of the moment when we were baptized. It was at baptism when our journey to God began and we became a follower of Jesus Christ.

SMM Floor Labyrinth

As we walk down the aisle, we will come across the symbol of the labyrinth. This is a replica of the symbol that is in the Chartres Cathedral in France that was built in the 12th century. The labyrinth has been a prominent feature of the famous cathedral and draws pilgrims to it even to this day. Borrowed from pagan origins and given a new understanding in light of the Christian faith, this symbol has been used by Catholic Christians for close to 800 years as a way to grow deeper in their relationship to God. The true purpose of the labyrinth was to serve as a reminder of the path Christians take on their journey to God.

As we may well know, the path to God never follows a straight line. It is never that easy. We derail ourselves so many times and in so many different ways. The sins we choose to commit take us off the path and God must redirect us. A traumatic or sad moment in life can also take us off the path and God must again redirect our steps. At times, we may feel as if we are wandering in circles and getting nowhere in our faith journey. We may sometimes feel as if God has left us alone in our wandering. We struggle to make sense of life. What will help us make sense of it all?

SMM Floor Pelican

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.

SMM Crucifix

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.

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