Symbols and Signs

“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good…”

There is, in catholic circles a certain superstition, that everything that one is unfamiliar with is of the devil. But that is not what our Lord has told us. When God created the world, and everything in it, he called it good without reservation or hesitation. He didn't say it was good enough, or that he was ambivalent about its nature, it was simply good.

Yet when we look at the paranoid ramblings of “chick tract-esque” Christians we don’t see that belief. We see the number 6, or things like a pentagram we immediately associate it with something evil. Now have these things been used for evil? To be sure! But we don’t hold animosity towards our kitchen cutlery because hooligans rob people at knife point. Nor do we cross the street when we see an errant paving stone because it reminds us of Cain’s sin. The Lord gave us numbers, He gave us geometry, He gave us our spirits and our minds. He intended for us to use them, but for their intended purpose.

Let’s look take for example the pentagram, the object most associate with outright Satanism. What do the five points mean? Could they not represent, as John Lydgate of Bury’s poem goes, the five wounds of Christ?

At wells five, liquor I shall draw

To wash the rust of my sins quickly,
I mean the wells of Christ’s wounds five,
Whereby we claim of merciful pity.

-The five wounds of Christ – David Williams

Or how about the number six? Which according to E.W. Bullinger is the number of man and man’s plight without God? Do we not set six candles on the altar to represent laying ourselves before God?

You see the devil, is entirely uncreative. He was never given the ability to create. He instead hates that which spurned him. He hates the woman because of Our mother and he hates man who God loved so deeply that Jesus died for our sake. He resents us animals for having physical bodies. So what can he do? He perverts, twists and distorts the good things that God has given us in an effort to separate us from our claim. In the beginning God said we were in charge of creation, to take care of and nurture it. He wants us to neglect the world we were charged with and everything in it. The devil wants to take from us the symbols and signs God gives us. He wants us to ignore that everything seems to come in twos and threes because the dual nature of Christ is present in all creation (Colossians 1:16) and that in the trinity alone there is order (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

To this I say resist. Learn the things of God, enjoy His creation and become a steward of it. Learn about why the church uses the symbols it has. Why do we genuflect the direction we do? Why do we kneel instead of lay prostrate? Why does the priest not undo his hands at certain parts of the mass? Why do we refuse taking the Eucharist in our hands? Why did our Lady give us a set of beads with 5 sets of 10 prayers? All these things and more have deep, profound meaning that an RCIA class or a survey course could only begin to scratch.

I encourage you, as Christ told us many times, to seek the things of God. Let us together find and rejoice in the many ways God speaks to us through both His word, His church, and his creation. Let’s not give into superstition, but carefully and fearfully work out God’s design.

God be with you.