Symbolism in the Church #33

The next symbol is the skull. It reminds us of death. It is interesting to see that during Halloween, nobody is bothered by the idea of spooky things such as death, yet when we see something in church or are reminded of it elsewhere, we may get uncomfortable. Death is a reality. We all die. I do not know anybody who is 110 years old. I do not know anybody who is 105 years old. If someone came to you and said they were 200 years old, you might think something was wrong.

I suppose when we see something for Halloween, we are not confronted with reality. Ghosts and goblins are not part of everyday things we experience the same way we experience work, driving, walking and eating. It can remain something that does not have to be reality. But when we come across death in the church, it is very much a reality. Many of us has experienced our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters and even children dying. There is a church in Rome that I have not had the opportunity to visit yet. It is a monastery with the bones of the monks that have died before us. At the doorways of the chapel are hands that come out of the wall that hold the holy water fonts. Near the fonts is a plaque that says something like, “Where you are, I once was, where I am, you will be.” It reminds us of our mortality.
But what is this death supposed to be? Is it the end? What happens at death? Is it death itself that is so scary? Or is it what happens after? Judgment is something we all must undergo. That is what the plaque near the holy water font should remind us of. Thank God Jesus is the just judge. Only through Jesus can we have any confidence to be judged justly. He is God and cannot be manipulated or deceived. How will we fare with a just judge? How have we lived? Are we afraid of death? If we truly have a clean conscience, there is no need of fear. If we are afraid, then a good confession may be in order.
This symbol can be a good reality check for us. We can always come up with excuses for our behavior. We can explain things to others and even convince ourselves of many things. But when it comes time to meet our maker, all of that fades away. There are no excuses. It puts a fire under our butt and keeps us honest with ourselves to live the way Jesus would have us live. It is not something where others come and judge us or tell us of where we have done wrong. It is where we can do an honest examination of our lives, in all sincerity, with Jesus; and find those areas in our life where we have done wrong. It gives us an opportunity to get right with God.
Then we can truly look forward in truth and goodness to see Our Lord Jesus face to face. It is after this true discernment that we are ready to hear Jesus say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come and share your master’s joy!”