Caring for Our Community - The Importance of Spiritual Icons

Caring for Our Community - The Importance of Spiritual Icons

By Kathleen Quiazon, Director of Mission & Ministry

Icons of all kinds have become part of our twenty-first century communication patterns. Whether emojis, signage, photographs, or recognizable graphics, all of these images aim to communicate some meaning -- sometimes in the absence of words and sometimes to summarize the words we might otherwise use.

In religious traditions, icons often proclaim a symbolic reality -- a relationship between our human existence and the experience of the sacred. While not necessarily tangible, the symbols speak of spiritual significance that touches our hearts and connects our spirits to those in a wider community. In a time when our families are physically distant from one another, these icons hold a powerful possibility of reminding us of who we are and when we have been together in community.

In preparing our upcoming Notre Dame Baccalaureate Mass, our efforts have been guided by the importance of icons to our Notre Dame spiritual life.

  • The Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph is an icon of faith in downtown San Jose and has served as our Notre Dame house of worship. To be there and reminded of what that space looks like transforms us.
  • When our students minister with their words, their music, their cultures, and their spirit within that sacred space, we can feel God’s goodness alive and at work within us. Notre Dame students become icons of women’s spiritual leadership in front of our eyes.
  • Moments of blessing are part of our signature Notre Dame life together. In the homes of our graduates, families will be prompted to bless their students and light special candles. In this way we’ll extend that cathedral house of prayer into our own homes. 

Naturally, this is a time of great care and love. Our Notre Dame team, in partnership with the Cathedral Basilica, is preparing for this moment so we can bring the icons of this experience joyfully, smoothly and prayerfully into the homes of our Notre Dame families, all the while following the protocols of our current social distancing reality.

In a special way, Notre Dame is grateful for the friendship of Monsignor Francis Cilia who, recently returned from a year of sabbatical, will preside over this community liturgy. He has been a fixture of our Notre Dame liturgical life over the years and we are glad for his presence with the Class of 2020.

My prayer is that the icons of this year’s Baccalaureate Mass will imprint in our own hearts and minds the goodness of God which we boldly proclaim!