Thursday, November 20, 2014

Symbols Signal Substance

We all see so many symbols everyday: a large shell designating an oil station; an oval with a skyline on it; skull and crossbones; a big boy image holding a sandwich; and so on.  Here at NDA we are surrounded by symbols, some intended to elevate our thoughts, some to educate, some to entertain.  Below are some of the symbols we see around here.

As you enter the building, you see the lily (signifying the purity of Mary’s dedication to God) on the large stone marker, and when you walk through the foyer, you see the same symbol in the pillar behind Mary’s statue (notice it next time).

In Alumnae Hall is the shield of the Sisters of Notre Dame abounding in symbols: the surmounting cross; the dove (Holy Spirit); the star (Mary) above the waves of life’s ocean; the eagle (closeness to God, but also signifying German origins); the lion rampant (the influence of the French St. Julie Billiart ); and the lily.

Down to chapel to view a plethora (to use a suddenly popular word) of symbols, we dip our fingers into the holy water fonts, and behold the symbols.  On one side of the doors is the dove; on the other side we see the Chi-Rho linked to the anchor (Christ, our anchor of hope) and the fish (from the Greek word Icthus—the acronym for the Greek words “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior”).  

The altarpiece has three repeated symbols: the legendary pelican feeding her young with her own blood (Christ feeding us in the Eucharist); the birds (the faithful) feeding on the grapes and wheat (again the Eucharist); the peacocks feeding from the cup (the everlasting life—peacocks—given the faithful in the Eucharist).
Of course, your quick eye would spot other symbols, but these are perhaps most noticeable.  Keep looking!