Tuesday, October 8, 2013

+JMJ Three Reasons I Love My Faith

1.   +JMJ+

 The Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
When I think to remind my kids, they put these initials at the top of their school work in an effort to offer their labors to and asking the aid from Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

There was a time when people would see an accident, they'd invoke aid from Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Their Holy Names roll off the tongue smoothly: Jesus, Mary and Joseph...Jesus, Mary and Joseph...Jesus, Mary and Joseph...There is comfort in calling upon their names; the images of their aid that is brought to mind; the concept of the love and peace in the Holy Family, peace we all crave for our families to strive toward holiness.

The tight bond of these three together, who lived so very differently in this world than Anyone. Else. Ever. bringing The Gift to save us all. Inspiring. Comforting. Their light shines through to our time.

From the Divine praises:
Blessed be His Holy Name
Blessed be Mary, Virgin and Mother
Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chased spouse.

2. Catholic Christian Symbolism
And connecting with the early Christians through their use of symbols. They used a variety of symbols while surviving in a society that wanted Christians and Christianity dead, and symbols were used to communicate to each other and through time, to us. The early Christians saw God in everything, in nature, human body, every animal, and used these symbols to convey meaning that could be easily learned and understood by those who needed to know.

The Catholic Faith has a long and rich heritage of using symbols and gestures to convey spiritual meaning and purpose. Part of understanding and living our Catholic identity comes from learning the many symbols that express our beliefs.  When seeing a saint image in card, statue or stained glass, it is a lesson in that saint's life to understand the symbols represented.

During the time of persecutions, Christians would mark symbols on the tomb to convey details of a martyr. With Saint Philomena's discovery in 1802, the excavators of the Catacombs around Rome found her tomb well preserved with words "LUMENA/ PAXTE / CUMFI (which they later translated to "Peace be with you, Philomena.") And the symbols: a lily, arrows, an anchor and a lance, which were used to indicate her virginity and martyrdom. The anchor because Jesus is the anchor to the faith and reason for her martyrdom.

Some other ancient symbols...
Fish - Christ
Dove - Holy Spirit
Lamb - Lamb of God
Peacock- all seeing God
Apple - forbidden fruit
Clover- Trinity
Keys - Kingdom of God through Peter and The Church, Pope
Lily- purity
Palm- victory 
Thorn- the Passion
Violet- humility
Ashes - penance and mortality
Star- Divine guidance
Water- cleansing 
Heart- Love aka Christ aka Sacred Heart

3. Adornments in a Catholic home
A priest once asked in his sermon: Would people know your home is a Catholic home? This time he wasn't talking about  behavior; he was talking art and accents in a home that identify it as Catholic. What we surround ourselves with says something about what it important to us. Our children will learn more about how to live their faith in their own home than outside the home. 

Don't you love visiting with friends and seeing how others make/decorate/fill their homes? We can help inspire each other and provide for our families a sanctuary of peace in this troubled world while filling it with beauty to lift our thoughts to God. 

As we have reminders and lessons taught in the stained glass windows at church, we have reminders adorning the home:
Holy water font by door to bless ourselves with sacramental water coming and going;
Crucifix, to keep Christ's sacrifice in our hearts,
Religious art (painting and statues) depicting scenes from the Bible, Our Lady and other saints, to remind us of heavenly friends.
An area set aside for prayer, with religious reading material, rosary beads, etc. 
Outdoor adornments for the garden: St Francis is seen in all kinds of gardens. My kids like to point out Statues of our Lady. All these things can serve as quiet evangelation and good conversation starters with neighbors and other visitors when they ask, "Why do you have that?" 
 I love to have and to hear the stories behind special adornments. This crucifix was a gift from my parents from Rome after my first child was born, and my dad made the wooden box, identical to one we had in our home growing up. The rosary was past down to me from an aunt, with carved wooden rosettes made many years ago in Lebanon. 

Prayer before a Crucifix

Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus, while before Thy face I humbly kneel, and with burning soul I pray and beseech Thee to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, true contrition for my sins, and a firm purpose of amendment; while I contemplate with great love and tender pity Thy five wounds, pondering over them within me, having in mind the words which David Thy prophet said of Thee, my Jesus: "They have pierced my hands and my feet; they have numbered all my bones."
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be for the Holy Father's intentions

Saint Philomena, pray for us.


  1. Mary, these are so incredibly beautiful. I love the +JMJ+ symbol at the top of their schoolwork! That is a great idea. I also love the symbols you listed! I knew some of them, but not all, and the fact about tombs being inscribed with them is so cool! Sadly, our home doesn't look very catholic as all of our artwork is still in boxes from moving, but soon!

    Thanks for linking up, and I'm sorry it took me so long to comment. I should know better than to read one of these inspiring posts when I don't have time to comment because I never remember to come back. Your faith inspires me, so thank you!

  2. Hi Mary,

    St. Philomena is one of my favorite saints. The sneek-peek at the symbols on her tombstone is wonderful-I've never seen that before! Thanks for all the background on the symbols of the saints. Another one that I am very moved by is the pelican who feeds her children with her own flesh. As a life-long Catholic, I am always amazed that I still learn something new every day. I think it just might be impossible to know everything about our rich heritage. Your rosary is beautiful!