Faith, Hope and Charity

Although I am no longer an “…observant, practicing Catholic,” I still have a residual attachment to the faith. Surely the belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving and all-forgiving God brings comfort to me at times and, while I no longer see God as a guy seated on a throne of clouds with an upside down bird above His head (no disrespect intended, BTW), I do believe there is Light and Goodness in The Universe that is divine in nature – I’ll leave it at that. Anyway…

Having grown up Catholic, I was forever surrounded by statues of saints and paintings of apostles and martyrs and all manner of religious iconography. I.LOVE.IT. I do – I love religious art. We have a few things around our house not only for their inherent beauty but also to honor whatever remnants of Catholicism still lurking in my soul. I mean, an oil painting of Christ hangs on the wall in our dining room, and I have a crucifix that was a gift one Christmas from my parents. When I look at these things, I smile…

Maybe it’s because we are entering Holy Week, or maybe because I got some bad news about a friend’s health yesterday – for whatever reason, this image has been stuck in my head for the past day or so:

charms

(click on image above to learn more about this charm and its inspiration)

Yup, that’s right – “Faith, Hope and Charity.” I bet there is not one single Catholic – current or former – that does not recognize this charm. My Grandmother had one she wore on a slender gold chain around her neck. My Mother had a similar one she wore on a bracelet around her wrist. I remember playing with my Mom’s bracelet as a child, wondering what each charm stood for – surely the cross stood for Faith, and the heart for Charity, but the anchor? Hope? No one could ever seem to clarify that for me. Even now, when I checked online, some sites said the anchor symbolizes Faith in God, our anchor, and the heart means Hope while the cross stands for Charity and giving. Other sites say the cross symbolizes Hope (as in Eternal Life), the anchor symbolizes Faith (Jesus was the Fisher of Men) and the heart represents Charity (think of it as the “goodness of your heart”).  I guess for me, all three symbols represent all three virtues – the Catholic faith is pretty big on that whole “trinity” thing.

So, yeah, that little charm has been on my mind for the past day or so. Seems silly to admit it, but I kinda’ wish I had one, like on a key chain or something. Even though I am NOT Catholic anymore, it still amazes me how such simple imagery can bring peace and comfort to me when I am troubled or uneasy. I’d “feel better” if I could fumble with these guys between my fingers.

My Mom and Grandma’s charms are long lost/have otherwise “departed” with my loved ones. Who knows – I may have to make a run to the closest religious supply company/jeweler and grab one of these for myself. I think my life would be a little more at ease…

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