Wednesday, 14 June 2023 14:09

5. Communicative Signs in the Eucharistic Celebration

Andrés L. Taborda, SSS. 
Cenáculo de Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2/8/2022. 

Original text in Spanish.




  1. Probe with questions
  2. Signs and symbols
  3. Beauty, like truth, leads to admiration
  4. Resonating



The Eucharistic Celebration possesses all the communicative codes that help the religious encounter. The communicative codes allow people to understand each other. Examples: the light; the colors; the words; the silence; the images; the vestments; the setting; etc.

The purpose of this note is to highlight the signs, symbols and communicative codes that allow us to relate God with us, and us with God.

We understand communication as the sharing of goods, according to the origin of the word. In this note we deal with the communication of the goods proper to the Christian faith, of the faith proposed by the signs, symbols and codes of the Eucharistic Celebration.

When does liturgical communication take place? In believing Christians, when they come into contact with liturgical signs and symbols, the interface of the communicative act creates a tension. Liturgical communication produces in the Christian faithful a reaction, an echo, a tension of proposals and responses. Tension is the “state of a body subjected to the action of opposing forces that attract it”.

The catechesis of the Eucharistic Celebration proposes the epiphany of the Lord so that it may bear fruit. It is feedback between the catechist and the catechumen. The pedagogy to communicate is varied. In this note we propose to probe, to question. Signs and symbols, beauty and truth, allow admiration, open questions and answers.


1. Probe with questions

What are they looking for, what do they want?

John was there again with two of his disciples, and looking at Jesus as he passed by, he said, “This is the Lamb of God. When the two disciples heard him speak thus, they followed Jesus; and when he turned and saw that they were following him, he asked them, What do you seek? They said to him, “Rabbi”, which is translated, “Master, where do you live? Come and see”, he said to them. They went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him that day” (John 1:35-39).

Jesus’ question awakens and recognizes the desire of the human heart. The two disciples were struck by the presentation, “This is the Lamb of God”.

More than two thousand years ago Jesus did catechesis giving an answer to whoever sought Him. He invited them to come to him to see him. It is surprising that that communicative catechetical act continues today.

He is the one who gives life in the Eucharist. The question is key: what or whom do we seek in the Eucharistic Celebration, in the Church, in the Temple?

So is the catechesis on Eucharistic signs and symbols, it aims to create a relationship between Jesus and us. Like the signs and symbols, the question provokes the search for the meaning of life, what do we want in life, to know what is important, it wants to move the interior of the human being.

  • Question: What do we seek from Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic Celebration?


Do the questions demand answers?

To Israel's question, “What is this?” the answer is Manna. When the Israelites saw it, they asked one another, ‘What is this?’ For they did not know what it was. Then Moses explained to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you for food” (Exodus 16:15). The manna is food that God gave Israel during the wilderness wanderings.

The people ask what this is. The answer: “it is the bread that the Lord has given them”. In Hebrew, what is this? is said “manna”, it is the interpretation of its name, it underlines its mysterious character and prepares the revelation of the True Bread of Heaven[1].

The church has always tried to answer human questions, as did the Second Vatican Council. From the basic question who are we? what is the meaning of life? and others, are valued and tries to answer the great human questions[2]?

Simple questions can be profound when they are rich in content and open perspectives. Thus, the Holy Father, Pope Francis said: “Let us now try to ask ourselves some simple questions. For example, why do we make the sign of the cross and the penitential act at the beginning of Mass? And here I would like to digress: have you seen how children make the sign of the cross? And these readings, in the Mass, why are they there? Why are three readings [plus the psalm] read on Sunday and two on the other days? Why are they there, what do the readings of the Mass mean? Why are they read and what does it have to do with them? Or why at a certain moment does the priest presiding at the celebration say, “Let us lift up our hearts...”?...”[3]

  • Question: When participating in your last Eucharistic Celebration, what was your question and what answer did you get?

Why the questions?

Questions are a privileged method of teaching Jesus[4]. Questions help conversation, dialogue, they can educate and evangelize. The catechism has questions to open to participation, criticism and creativity. They lead to reflection and analysis.

Questions in catechesis are a resource and can ask for information; they can be strategies to guide the thinking of the catechumens; or to get them to pay attention to certain contents; they invite them to get to know others or our experience. Above all, questions can lead to adhesion to God.

How do questions arise? They emerge in a dialogue or from an event that is lived and curiosity elaborates questions that ask for answers.

The “dialogical form” of catechisms belongs to the “ancient catechetical genre based on questions and answers” that allow the “discovery of ever new aspects of the truth of their faith”. Moreover, they help to go to “the essential”, favor “assimilation” and “memorization of the contents”[5].

The questions always seek to probe, to know more deeply. In Eucharistic catechesis, questions can open the way to greater contact with God. Therefore, it is important to ask and answer.

  • Question: Lord, what signs do you do that we may see and believe in you?

2. Signs and symbols

Why do we use signs and symbols?

We always use signs and symbols. Also, in the Christian and Eucharistic life, these are sensitive means to communicate.

“The sacramental celebration “is interwoven with signs and symbols”, the “divine pedagogy of salvation”[6] is expressed already eloquently enunciated by the Council of Trent. Recognizing that “human nature is such that it is not easily amenable to meditation on divine things without external resources”, the Church “uses candles, incense, vestments and many other elements handed down by apostolic teaching and tradition, with which the majesty of so great a Sacrifice [the Holy Mass] is emphasized; and the minds of the faithful are led from these visible signs of religion and piety, to the contemplation of the high things, which are hidden in this sacrifice” (Council of Trent, Session XXII, 1562, Doctrine of ss. Missae Sacrificio, c. 5, DS 1746)[7].

For example, the two letters of the Greek alphabet are Alpha and Omega (Α Ω), in almost all temples are present. It is a symbol, pure abstraction. It comes from Revelation 1: 8; and 22:13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End”. And it means that the Lord God is eternal. And the Greek letters are signs of numbers, it starts from the smallest to the greatest, that is, symbolically it says that the Lord is omnipotent.

On the night of the Easter Vigil the candle is marked with these words: “Christ Yesterday and Today, Beginning and End, Alpha and Omega. To Christ belong time and eternity. To Christ be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.”

  • Question: Why do Christian signs and symbols always lead us to God?

Signs written to have Life?

The Gospel of John tells us about some signs. What were the signs written for?

Jesus said to Thomas, “Now you believe, because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without having seen!” Jesus also performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not related in this book. These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and believing, you may have life in his name (John 20:29-31).

This Gospel [of John] has the advantage that it has the most explicit recourse to symbolism as a representation of a spiritual reality and therefore invites to a greater extent an interpretation than is already an interpretation.[8]

  • Question: Why do the signs in John's Gospel invite the transcendent?

Where do the sacramental signs come from?[9]

Some sacramental signs come from the created world (light, water, fire, bread, wine, oil); others from social life (washing, anointing, breaking of bread); others from the history of salvation in the Old Covenant (the paschal rites, the sacrifices, the laying on of hands, the consecrations). These signs, some of which are normative and immutable, assumed by Christ, become bearers of salvific and sanctifying action.

The raison d'être of the signs proper to the Liturgy stems from human nature, considered in its reality both bodily and spiritual; it also stems from the mystery of the Incarnation, thanks to which access to the invisible God becomes possible through the real humanity of Jesus Christ. In fact, just as the humanity of Christ is the instrument of the saving action of the Word, so the liturgical signs contain and transmit the saving power of God.[10]

  • Question: What are the sacramental signs in the Eucharistic Celebration?

What is the meaning of liturgical language?

A sacramental celebration is woven of signs and symbols. According to the divine pedagogy of salvation, its significance has its roots in the work of creation and human culture, is outlined in the events of the Old Covenant and is revealed in fullness in the person and work of Christ.[11]

Liturgical symbolic language[12], intended to express the unspeakable, is expressed in a unique way. It has its own rules. What are the characteristics of symbolism in the liturgy?

The liturgical symbol is always accompanied by the word as the constitutive element that guarantees the meaning[13]. The word relates the sacramental symbol to the salvific historical event and gives it foundation. For example, the words of Jesus about the bread and wine, spoken by the priest in the Eucharistic celebration, are related to the mystery of the death and resurrection of the Lord during the Last Supper. To partake of the Eucharistic bread and wine is not only a fraternal act, it is above all a participation in the Passover of Jesus Christ.

The liturgical symbol must be understood in the biblical context from which it originates and on which its meaning rests. The liturgical symbols are in reality human symbols, taken from the natural elements, but their meaning is superior. For example, water, says of freshness, life, quenches thirst, purifies[14]. Now, in the prayer to bless the baptismal water during the Easter Vigil, it relates the meaning of God's saving action.

Liturgical symbolism is always a dynamic symbolism, it tends toward action. Baptism is not only water, it is also immersion in water. The eating and drinking of the Eucharist is the symbolic and effective language of Christ's communication to us of his body and blood, and of the faith with which we welcome him. The liturgical symbol invites us into the context of the rite.

  • Question: What is the significance of water in the Eucharistic Celebration?

Communicative codes?

“Liturgy, which is itself communication” (Puebla n. 1086)[15] leads to communion with God and humanity. Both a temple itself and a liturgical act always create a dialogue. There are temples that, because of their social imaginary, are codes that speak for themselves. The same happens with liturgical acts.

To say code means to speak of a system of signs and rules that make it possible to elaborate and understand the messages of those who make up a community. The liturgical code communicates in order to be understood and reciprocated. There is correspondence with signs and symbolic actions; gestures and participation. It is a dialogue between God and man.

In the temple, the liturgical rite with its actions, involves the believer and his senses, with objects, sounds, colors, lights, words and gestures. These communicative liturgical codes reveal and create new communication.[16]

How do the liturgical codes communicate? We could say, by the celebratory atmosphere; the commentaries; readings proclaimed; chants; silences that help active participation; the homily prepared for the celebration[17].

  • Question: What biblical image or phrase would encode the act of Eucharistic communion?

What is a sacred space?

Moses [witnessing the burning bush] thought, “I am going to watch this great spectacle. Why is it that the bush is not consumed?” When the Lord saw that he turned out of the way to look, he called to him from the bush, saying, “Moses, Moses!” “Here I am”, Moses answered. Then God said to Moses, “Do not come this far. Take off your sandals, for the ground on which you are treading is holy ground” (Exodus 3:3-5).

Sacred spaces are distinguished from ordinary spaces because they interrupt the routine of everyday life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1179 teaches us that “worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) of the New Covenant is not tied to an exclusive place. The whole earth is holy and has been entrusted to the children of men. When the faithful come together in one place, the fundamental thing is that they are the “living stones”, gathered together for “the building up of a spiritual edifice” (1 Peter 2:4-5).

The Body of the risen Christ is the spiritual temple from which the fountain of living water flows. Incorporated into Christ by the Holy Spirit, “we are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16).

  • Question: What signs allow us to perceive a sacred space?

When do we pass from the profane to the sacred?

To pass a threshold means to pass to a new reality, everything speaks of another way, of other things. Jesus says “I tell you the truth, I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7). Thus, the temple speaks to us of a community that has passed the threshold, the Door that is Jesus; and walks towards the house of God. When we enter a soccer stadium, everything changes. The church temple is another space and when we enter everything changes, we come out different from how we entered.

Romano Guardíni writes,

We often enter through it [the door] in the church, and it always tells us something. Do we perceive it? ... Look; as you pass through the frame, you say to yourself interiorly: “Now I am leaving the things outside; I am going inside.” The outside is the world, beautiful, full of life and movement; but also, of no little ugliness and baseness ... Through the door we enter an enclosure separated from the square, silent and sacred: the temple ... The door is between the outside and the inside; between the square and the sanctuary; between the belonging of the world and the house of God. And as we pass through it, it seems to say: “Leave outside what is unworthy of the place you are entering: thoughts, desires, worries, curiosities and vain things. Leave out what is not sacred. Purify yourself, you are entering the temple.”

And who introduces us into this mysterious enclosure is the door. It says, “Cast away all pettiness; put away all narrowness and restlessness. Away with all that oppresses. Chest open; eyes lifted high; soul free. This is the temple of God, and the image of thyself. For in body and soul you are a living temple of God. Give it breadth, give it freedom and height.[18]

  • Question: What does the Eucharistic Celebration ask to enter your Table?

Why do we use temples?

Because the sign of the temple recapitulates and expresses in a certain way the various moments and modes of God's presence among us. From the cosmic temple in Eden to the Promised Land (Genesis 1, 2; Psalms 138), from the tent in the desert to the temple in Jerusalem (Exodus 26; 1 Kings 8: 10f.), from the humanity of Christ to the ecclesial structure and each of its members (John 2, 19-21; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17)[19].

For “by his death and resurrection, Christ became the true and perfect temple of the New Covenant” (John 2:21) and brought together God's own people.

This holy people, unified by the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, is the Church (see Lumen Gentium [LG] 4), that is, the temple of God built with living stones, where the Father is worshiped in spirit and in truth (see John 4:23).

It is for this reason, and rightly so, that since ancient times the building in which the Christian community gathers to listen to the word of God, to raise prayers of intercession and praise to God, and above all to celebrate the holy mysteries and also to reserve the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist was also called “church”.

Because it is a visible building, this house is a special sign of the Church on pilgrimage on earth and an image of the Church that has already reached heaven. According to a very ancient custom of the Church, it is fitting to dedicate it to the Lord with a solemn rite by erecting it as a building destined exclusively and stably to gather the People of God and to celebrate the sacred mysteries[20].

  • Question: Why does Jesus Christ seek to incorporate people as living stones?

Is participation in the Holy Eucharist expressed by signs?

“To promote active participation, the acclamations of the people, responses, psalmody, antiphons, chants, and also actions or gestures and bodily postures... are to be encouraged.... (and) a sacred silence” (Sacrosanctum Concilium [SC] 30). In addition, there are internal actions that are important, such as the rites and prayers; also, the instruction of the Word of God, which prepares for the Table of the Body and Blood of the Lord; giving thanks; and to offer oneself with the host to live united with “Christ the Mediator in union with God and among the faithful themselves”[21].

Some personal conditions for each of the faithful to bear fruits of participation:

  • A spirit of continual conversion that must characterize the life of each faithful; questioning one's own life for good.
  • Recollection and silence; fasting.
  • Sacramental confession. A heart reconciled with God allows true participation.
  • In particular, it takes at the same time an active part in the ecclesial life in its totality? the missionary commitment to bring the love of Christ to society?
  • But what is full participation?

When we personally approach the altar to receive Communion[22], “The most perfect participation in the Mass is especially recommended, which consists in the faithful receiving the Body of the Lord from the same sacrifice after the priest's communion”[23].

How can this participation be described? Three Christian attitudes: to have rectitude of mind, to unite the mind with the voice and to collaborate with the grace of God. In three words, it is to participate consciously, fruitfully and actively (see SC 11; 48).

  • Question: How do you participate in the community during the Eucharistic Celebration?

3. Beauty, like truth, leads to wonder

Is wonder possible before the Paschal Mystery?

Yes, it is possible, with the attitude of a child. Awe could be defined, or described. But with examples we can understand it. The People of God, hungry before the manna in the desert, asked themselves: “What is this?” Moses answered, “This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat” (Exodus 16:15). That is to admire, to astonish.

In the celebration of the Hebrew Passover, the youngest of the family asks about the things that are done at the Passover Seder. “Why do all the other nights of the year we eat chametz (bread) and matzah (unleavened bread), but on this night we eat only matzah?” “Why is it that all other nights we eat all kinds of herbs, but on this night, we eat only bitter herbs?” “Why is it that every night we do not need to soak our vegetables even once, and on this night we do it twice!” “Why is it that every other night we eat sitting upright or reclining, while tonight we all recline (on a pillow)?”

Let us note that each question expresses admiration.

It is the children who have that attitude in the face of reality: wonder. It is Jesus who indicates having the attitude of the child (Matthew 18:3), wonder before the world, gaze towards the transcendent. “When I say wonder before the paschal mystery, [...] it is wonder before the fact that the salvific plan of God has been revealed to us in the Passover of Jesus (see Ephesians 1:3-14), whose efficacy continues to reach us in the celebration of the “mysteries”, that is, of the sacraments.”[24]

  • Question: What amazes you about the celebration of the Easter Vigil, or about other celebrations?

Is prayer oriented toward the Lord?

When we pass by a temple or when we enter it, we find the image of a cross with Christ Crucified. It is a sign that shows us where to go. In the same way, every Eucharistic Celebration, every prayer is oriented (oriented) towards the Lord. He is the center that gathers us together. In ancient times, temples were built towards the east, toward the east from where the sun rises, to refer to Jesus who rises as the New Light.

In the ancient church it was customary for the bishop or priest, after the homily, to exhort the believers by exclaiming: “Conversi ad Dominum”, “Turn now to the Lord”. That meant first of all that they turned eastward, in the direction of the rising sun as a sign of the returning Christ, whom we go to meet in the celebration of the Eucharist. Where, for some reason, this was not possible, they turned their gaze to the image of Christ in the apse or to the cross, in order to orient themselves interiorly towards the Lord. Because, in the end, it was all about this interior fact: of conversio, of directing our soul towards Jesus Christ and, in this way, towards the living God, toward the true light.[25]

Let us say that in the Eucharistic celebration there are various points of orientation. At the conclusion of the entrance song, the priest, standing in the seat, signs himself and the whole assembly with the sign of the cross; then, by means of the greeting, he manifests the presence of the Lord to the gathered community[26].

“Let us lift up our hearts. We have lifted it up to the Lord”, we pray during the Preface at Mass. The priest invites the people to lift up their hearts to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving and associates it with the prayer that, in the name of the whole community, he addresses to God the Father, through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. The meaning of this prayer is that the whole assembly of the faithful be united with Christ in the praise of the wonders of God and in the offering of the sacrifice. The main character, towards which we Christians are oriented, is the Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic Celebration.[27]

  • Question: How do we know that Jesus, from the Holy Eucharist, is like the sun, like a lamp for our feet (Psalm 119, 105)?

“Lord, who will dwell in your holy mountain?” (Psalm 15:1)

The temple is the meeting place of Jacob and the Lord God is described as follows “How dreadful is this place, it is nothing less than the house of God and the gate of heaven!” says Genesis 28, 17. The temple is a distinct, different place and it is where people and God can meet.

The Gospel of John 2: 20 - 22 tells us that the temple signifies the risen Jesus. “Destroy that temple and in three days I will rebuild it”, so the disciples remember Jesus' words. It is the place of the new life of those reborn by baptism, children of God and incorporated into the Church.

When we enter the temple, we are incorporated into Jesus, we are integrated. We are sharers in his Body and Blood. And all the more so when we share in the Eucharistic celebration and receive communion. Thus, we pray to the Eternal Father, before communion, “We humbly ask that the Holy Spirit may bring together in unity all those who share in the Body and Blood of Christ” (see Eucharistic Prayer II).

The temple is the place for the Christian community to encounter the Holy Trinity. It is a holy place to recognize ourselves as risen in Jesus Christ. Place to receive Jesus in the holy Eucharistic communion. High place, holy mountain that gathers to share the Bread of Life and the Wine of Fraternity. A place of prayer, Eucharistic adoration and feast. A place of freedom and human promotion.

From the temple we go out to share the faith, the life modeled by the Eucharist, which is its source and center of all action. The temple is the House of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit who gather us, who give themselves and send us to share and distribute the Bread of the Gospel.

  • Question: Who can dwell in the Christian Community?

Is the Altar Jesus Christ?

What does the altar mean? The altar is the symbol of Christ himself, present as sacrificial victim (altar-sacrifice of the Cross), and as heavenly food given to us (altar-Eucharistic table)[28]. It is the rock of sacrifice and the table of food.

Golgotha is the rock of sacrifice, there Jesus was crucified and died. He himself recited a biblical passage to say that it was the cornerstone[29]. The altar is made of stone; and if it is made of another material, an altar is placed, a small consecrated stone, with some relics of saints. This means that the altar is the rock where the sacrifice is offered.

The ancient Fathers of the Church, meditating on the Word of God, did not hesitate to affirm that Christ was the priest, the victim and the altar of his own sacrifice. The Christian altar is, by its very nature, the special table of sacrifice and of the paschal banquet: the special altar where the sacrifice of the cross is sacramentally perpetuated until Christ returns; the table where the sacrifice of the cross is sacramentally perpetuated until Christ returns; the table where the sacrifice of the cross is sacramentally perpetuated until Christ comes again.[30]

Our sacrifices, prayers, etc. have value when they are united to the Lord Jesus, who offers Himself to the Father. Our offerings are fruitful when we make them from Christ, through Christ, with Christ and in Christ. Jesus Christ is the Altar.

  • Psalm 43:4 says, “And I will come to the altar of God, the God who is the joy of my life.” Question: How do I recognize that God causes joy in life?

Where is the Lord present?

“Christ Jesus who died, rose again, who is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us” (Romans 8:34), is present in many ways in his Church (see LG 48): in his Word, in the prayer of his Church, “wherever two or three are gathered in my name” (Matthew 18:20), in the poor, the sick, the imprisoned (Matthew 25:31-46), in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass and in the person of the minister. But, “above all, (he is present) under the Eucharistic species” (SC 7)[31].

These words indicate some of God's presence in the liturgy, in society, in the sacraments, in the Eucharist. Let us point out some visible signs of these presences.[32]

Jesus Christ "is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, either in the person of the minister, “offering himself now by the ministry of the priests the same one who then offered himself on the cross”, or above all under the Eucharistic species.

Christians are gathered with others in the temple. The Lord is present when the Church supplicates and sings psalms; he himself promised: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am present in their midst” (Matthew 18:20). At the beginning of the celebration of the Eucharist, the celebrant greets, “The Lord be with you”, to indicate the presence of the Lord Jesus in that community.

The ambo is the space of the liturgical Lectionary. It is a complementary part of the altar and the See. From here the Lord's Passover is proclaimed, announcing that Jesus Christ suffered, died and is now alive among Christians. When we see the ambo we can hear it, it is capable of making the Word resound, even when there is no one to proclaim it.[33]

Christ is present in his Word, for when Sacred Scripture is read in the Church; it is Christ who speaks. From the Bible are taken the readings of the Word of God, which remind the faithful of the presence of God, who speaks to his people. The books themselves[34], which are signs and symbols of the realities of heaven in the liturgical action, are worthy, decorous and beautiful[35].

Christ is present “especially under the Eucharistic species” and the Christian faithful, duly prepared, approach the paschal banquet and, according to the Lord's command, receive his Body and Blood as spiritual nourishment[36]. This communicative act of eating and drinking is preceded by the prayer of the Lord's Prayer, the optional ritual gesture of peace and the fraction performed by Jesus Christ himself.

The Lord is present in the sign of the silence experienced during the Eucharistic Celebration. There, silence is always privileged, in order to listen interiorly to the Lord, alive and present in the Sacrament[37]. In addition, there are various silences with meanings and functions according to the place they occupy in the Mass, for example:[38]

  1. Before the celebration keep a respectful silence in the Church, in the sacristy, so that all, including the priest and ministers, can prepare for the celebration devoutly and religiously;
  2. During the penitential act and after each invitation to pray, all are interiorly recollected;
  3. With the invitation “Let us pray”, the priest urges the people to recollect themselves with him in a moment of silence, in order to become aware of being in the presence of God and to bring out, in each one's heart, the personal intentions with which each one participates in the Mass;
  4. After the reading and homily, they meditate briefly on what they have heard;
  5. After the Eucharistic Communion, they praise God in their hearts.

Silence is part of every ritual that the human being undertakes, it is the air that materializes the importance of the acts that are sacralized. Silence is the light that allows to illuminate with its absence the symbolic value of each act, word, gesture and sound.[39]

  • Question: What sign of the Mass helps you recognize the presence of the Lord?

What is the meaning of the image of the Lamb of God?

“To tell the truth, in the Decalogue God had forbidden making images of Himself, but this was because of the temptations of idolatry to which the believer could be exposed in a context of paganism.

However, since God became visible in Christ through the incarnation, it is legitimate to reproduce the face of Christ. Holy images teach us to see God in the figuration of Christ's face. Therefore, after the incarnation of the Son of God it is possible to see God in the images of Christ and also in the faces of the saints, in the faces of all men in whom the holiness of God shines forth.”[40]

In temples and churches, we find images of saints, the meaning of the “Christian cult of images is something that is related to another reality. The image is not venerated for itself, but for what it represents.[41] The honor paid to them refers to the persons they represent.” Here we mention only the Lamb of God.

In his words Pope Benedict XVI, explains to us the meaning of the Lamb of God: “Christ has been slain, our Passover” (1 Corinthians 5:7). The central symbol of salvation history - the Passover lamb - is identified here with Jesus, called precisely “our Passover”.

The Jewish Passover, memorial of the liberation from Egyptian slavery, prescribed the rite of the immolation of the lamb, one lamb per family, according to the Mosaic law. In his passion and death, Jesus reveals himself as the Lamb of God “immolated” on the cross to take away the sins of the world; he was killed precisely at the hour when it was customary to immolate the lambs in the temple of Jerusalem.

Christ himself had anticipated the meaning of this sacrifice during the Last Supper, putting himself in the place - under the species of bread and wine - of the ritual elements of the Passover meal. Thus, we can say that Jesus has truly brought to fulfillment the tradition of the ancient Passover and transformed it into his Passover.[42]

The symbolic image of the Lamb of God can be seen in many temples, near the tabernacle or next to it, where the consecrated hosts are reserved. When we see it, it reminds us of its various functions, some examples:

- In the Eucharistic celebration, when breaking the consecrated bread, in prayer it is repeated and asks for peace, “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace”.

- In the presentation made by John the Baptist (John 1:29) and repeated in the Eucharistic Celebration, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb”.

- Remember the praying Church, which worships the Lord, there are the angels, the living beings, the elders and the new People of God confessing: “The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and riches, wisdom, strength and honor, glory and praise” (Revelation 5:11-12).

- The Blood of the Covenant with the Lord. “... the Chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant...”, anticipated at the wedding feast at Cana (John 2:11). With this “sign”, Jesus reveals himself as the messianic bridegroom who came to seal with his people the new and eternal covenant (Isaiah 62:5). And the wine is a symbol of this joy of love; but it refers to the blood, which Jesus will shed at the end, to seal his nuptial covenant with humanity.[43]

  • Question: How do images help me to meet God?

4. Resonating

The voice, the loud communication produces resonance, echo. Catechesis is to instruct in a loud voice the life and message of Jesus. It is necessary to leave open this topic of the communicative signs in the Eucharistic Celebration, because many more can be indicated. As the Gospel of John says, Jesus performed many other signs and these have been written so that we may believe in Jesus and have Life in his Name.

The limit of the work only allows us to point out some signs, symbols and codes. These, indicated here, will help us to discover many more. The essential thing is that they help us to grow in Jesus Christ.

Let us remember the encounter of the risen Jesus with Thomas. That evangelizing event tells us that the Christian and Eucharistic faith enters through the ears, through what we see and feel.

Signs, symbols and codes are sensitive, and let us praise the Lord who gave us the senses and the ability to use these elements to reach Him.




  • Aguilar Infante Jenny Elisabeth, La función comunicativa del silencio dentro del ritual católico. Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, 2012.
  • Benedict XVI, post synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, 2 February 2007.
  • Benedict XVI, General Audience, dates are indicated at the bottom of the page.
  • Bravo Arturo, El estilo pedagógico de Jesús: las preguntas, REXE. Revista de Estudios y Experiencias en Educación, núm. 12, 2007, pp. 123-128. Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción. Concepción, Chile.
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), Compendium, Librería Editrice Vaticana, 2005.
  • Congregation for Divine Worship, Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, Principles and Orientations, Madrid: BAC, 2002.
  • Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum on Divine Revelation, 18 November 1965.
  • Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, on the Church in the modern world, 7 December 1965.
  • Second Vatican Council, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, on the Sacred Liturgy, 4 December 1963.
  • Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 21 November 1964.
  • Celam: II Conferencia General del Episcopado Latinoamericano y del Caribe (1979), Bogotá, 2004.
  • Conferencia Episcopal Argentina, Misal Romano, Instrucción General del Misal Romano, Oficina del Libro, 2009.
  • Conferencias Episcopales de Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Leccionario I, Notas Preliminares, Principios Generales para la Celebración Litúrgica de la Palabra de Dios, 1999.
  • Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, Benedizione degli Oli e Dedicazione della Chiesa e dell'Altare. Editrice Vaticana, 1980.
  • Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, La progettazione di nuove Chiese, nota pastorale della Commissione Episcopale per la Liturgia, 1993.
  • Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, Comunicazione e missione. Direttorio sulla comunicazione sociali nella missione della Chiesa, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2004.
  • Conferência Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil - CNBB -99- Diretório de Comunicação da Igreja no Brasil, Paulinas, 2014.
  • Dizionario Liturgia, San Paolo, Torino, 2001.
  • Duigou Daniel, The Signs of Jesus in the Gospel of John, Desclée de Brouwer, Bilbao, 2009.
  • Francis, Homily, Vatican Basilica, Tuesday, 1 January 2019.
  • Francis, Apostolic Letter Desiderio Desideravi to the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, to Consecrated men and women and to the Lay faithful on the Liturgical Formation of the People of God, 29 June 2022.
  • Guardini Romano, Los Signos Sagrados, Editorial Litúrgica Española, S. A. Barcelona (España), 1965.
  • Lameri Angelo, Segni e simboli riti e misteri, Dimensione comunicativa della liturgia, Paoline, Milano, 2012.
  • Sacra Congregatio pro Sacramentis et Cultu Divino, Ordo dedicationis ecclesiae at altaris (1977) [Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Ritual of the Dedication of Churches and Altars, 1977].


[1] See Xavier Leon-Dufour, Vocabulary of Biblical Theology (Accessed: 12 October 2002,

[2] See Second Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes 10.

[3] Francis, General Audience, 8 November 2017.

[4] Arturo Bravo, El estilo pedagógico de Jesús: las preguntas, REXE. Revista de Estudios y Experiencias en Educación, Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción, Chile, No. 12, 2007, p. 128.

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), Compendium, Introduction, 2005.

[6] CCC 1145.

[7] See Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, How to Celebrate / 1: Signs and Symbols, Words and Actions (CCC 1145-1155), viewed 19 June 2022.

[8] Daniel Duigou, The Signs of Jesus in the Gospel of John, Bilbao: Desclée de Brouwer, 2009, p. 15.

[9] CCC, Compendium 237.

[10] Cardenal Jorge Medina Estévez, “Participation in the Holy Liturgy,” in Humanitas 34, Fall 2004, Year IX, Revista de la Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, viewed 14 February 2019.

 [11]CCC 1145.

[12] Angelo Lameri, Signs and symbols rites and mysteries, Milan: Paoline, 2012, pp. 64 and following.

[13] Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum 2, 18 November 1965.

[14] See Francis, Desiderio Desideravi (DD) 13.

[15] CELAM, III General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops (Puebla1979), Bogotá, 2004, 1086.

[16] See Italian Bishops’ Conference, Communication and Mission. Directory on social communication in the mission of the Church, LEV, 2004, 60.

[17] CNBB -99- Directory of Communication of the Church in Brazil, 81.

[18] Romano Guardini, The Sacred Signs, pp. 49-59.

[19] Italian Bishops’ Conference, Blessing of the Oils and Dedication of the Church and Altar, LEV, 1980, Forward, p.12.

[20] See Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Ritual of the Dedication of Churches and Altars, 1977, chap. II, 1-2. (In Argentina, the Episcopal Conference published a Pontifical Roman I, Buenos Aires, 8 February 1978. In this volume, parts of the text of the above-mentioned Ritual are found.

[21] Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis (SacCar), 22 February 2007, 52.

[22] SacCar 55.

[23] Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), 55.

[24] DD 25.

[25] Benedict XVI, Easter Vigil Homily, 22 March 2008.

[26] General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) 50.

[27] See Lameri, Signs and Symbols, p. 78 and 81.

[28] CCC Compendium 288.

[29] See Is 28: 16; Mk 12: 10; Heb 7: 26-27.

[30] See CEA, Ritual of the Dedication of Churches and Altars, Nature and Dignity of Churches.

[31] CCC 1373.

[32] SC 7: Presence of Christ in the liturgy.

[33] IEC, Designing New Churches 9.

[34] Interesting that the Second Vatican Council opens the door to human ingenuity: "The Church took special care that sacred objects should serve the splendor of worship with dignity and beauty, accepting the changes in matter, form and ornament which the progress of technology introduced in the course of time," SC122. What will the format of the liturgical Lectionary or Roman Missal be like in the future?

[35] See, Ordination of the Readings of the Mass, Prenotandos 35.

[36] See GIRM 80-89.

[37] Benedict XVI, Homily, 7 June 2012.

[38] See GIRM 45 and 54. Francis, General Audience, 10 January 2018.

[39] Jenny Elisabeth Aguilar Infante, La función comunicativa del silencio dentro del ritual católico, Bogotá: PUJ, 2012, p. 13.

[40] Benedict XVI, General Audience, 29 April 2009; and 16 January 2013. See CCC 2129-2132.

[41] Congregation for Divine Worship, Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, Principles and Orientations, Madrid: BAC, 2002, 241.

[42] Benedict XVI, Homily, Easter Sunday, 12 April 2009.

[43] Benedict XVI, Angelus, Sunday 20 January 2013.

Last modified on Wednesday, 14 June 2023 14:36