Wednesday, November 11, 2015


This is an old commercial for Coke Light.  Did you see how at the end the priest takes the sweat from the Coke can and anoints the girl?  This is very clever.  The hope is that when you see a priest perform this action, you will think of Coke Light.  (It worked for me apparently.  When I thought of this post this was the first image that came to mind.)

This symbol of the Sacred Heart is more rarely used in the Church circles now because it has been so secularized.  I really like this symbol too.

Crosses and crucifixes have long been tried to be secularized from the chest of Madonna, to men's earrings, to being a fashion accessory to hang on the wall.  "It's a statement, not a symbol that I am Christian," I would hear often.  That seems to be waining a bit.

You could probably come up with your own list of words, objets, and even holy days ([St.] Valentine's Day, Christmas) that have been or have tried to be secularized.  

This is yet again why art is so important.  We tend to be visual people.  If the effort to de-sacralize our symbols is successful, then our presence in our culture is that much more diminished.  

Some symbols are taken, others are freely given away.  Priests not wearing collars, religious not wearing habits, church buildings not looking like church buildings, our presence becomes static on the screen rather than a clear picture.  We need to take very good care of our symbols or we run the risk of fading into the background.  Secularized symbols are far more easy to throw away.  We give them up, they will be used up, drained of meaning, and then forgotten.

Tomorrow - one way to reverse the trend.


Anonymous said...


Women religious have abandoned archaic habits for a variety of reasons, most if not all of them wholesome and growthful, not because they "don't understand the importance of symbols."

Anonymous said...

A collar doesn't make a priest a priest, anymore than a habit makes a woman religious a woman religious. These indeed are symbols that simply point to a designation of baptism. Most clergy I know only wear their clerical garb during weddings, funerals, pastoral care visits in hospitals (maybe), and other special occasions. This doesn't mean that they don't understand the importance of symbols. When we start elevating these symbols as some sort of "requirement" for serving the People of God - we have missed the mark......big time.

Anonymous said...

1) I before E except after C!

2) I think Fr. V makes a very good point here. Mass and the Sacraments are important, and wearing the appropriate vestments is important. Wouldn't we dress in our best to meet the Pope or the President? Why should we not do so to meet Christ our King at Mass and in the Sacraments?

And don't we all have a dress code at our places of work? The military is very strict about their uniforms, and proud to wear them and to be identified as representatives of our country. I would think our priests and sisters would be the same.

Also, if there is an accident, heaven forbid, like the jet crash this week here in Akron, a priest "in uniform" would be welcomed by me if I were on the verge of death and needed Annointing and Confession.

My late father-in-law had Alzheimer's and was being cared for at the end at the Franciscan monastery in Tiffin. He had broken his back in a fall and was in great pain. The only person in the world that he recognized was my mother-in-law, and he was frightened of the doctors and nurses. But when one of the Franciscan nursing sisters, in habit, approached him, he was cooperative because he recognized the habit. Same for his good pastor who came regularly to comfort him. There is indeed something to be said for being a recognized man or woman in Holy Orders.

I am a Secular Franciscan, and my habit is a Tau cross. I wear it every day, and I even sleep with it. It is a reminder of my vocation and Who I am serving.

God bless you Father, and your parishioners and readers of this blog! Pax et Bonum!

Fr. V said...

I would be inclined to agree with both anonymous. Understanding symbols or being holy has nothing to do with symbols being used. So I am glad we agree on that. But I would argue that in their public life they have become somewhat invisible to anybody who doesn't know exactly who they are.