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Kyle Schachterle wrote:

Hi, guys —

I'm a man in my early 30s, and my partner is a non-Catholic Christian. She was married to a Catholic for a number of years, and they have a 9-year-old daughter together. I'm going to propose to her soon, and if she says yes, I want to give her daughter a necklace or other token as an acknowledgement that I'm committed to her too, and that she will be a part of her mother's and my union. I have been thinking about getting a triquetra pendant for this necklace.

The problem is that I'm not familiar with Catholic teachings and symbolism, and I want to be respectful of my future step-daughter's father's faith. (At present, neither mother nor daughter are Catholic nor planning to become Catholic. The mother is a nondenominational Christian, while daughter has been raised Lutheran.)

  • Is the triquetra, also called then trinity knot, given special meaning among most Catholics in the USA?
  • Are there any symbols I should make a point of avoiding, so as not to desecrate a symbol of particular importance?

I know that every Catholic may have symbols that are special to them, and that you can't offer me a fail-proof advice. I'm just hoping for some general guidance.

Thank you for any guidance you can supply!

Kyle

  { Is the triquetra given special meaning among Catholics and should I avoid using certain symbols? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Kyle —

Thanks for the question.

Although it sounds fine, I'm not familiar with the triquetra, or trinity knot, so I'll let my colleagues comment, if they are familiar with it.

You said:

  • Are there any symbols I should make a point of avoiding, so as not to desecrate a symbol of particular importance?

This posting may help address one important symbol and sacramental:

If your daughter-to-be, has a knowledge and love of the Blessed Mother, you may want to consider giving her a pendant with the Miraculous Medal on it. If she hasn't been catechized appropriately on the role of the Blessed Mother in the Church and in the salvation of all Christians, a pendant medal with either:

  • a Cross
  • a Crucifix
  • a Dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit, or
  • the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus

may be more appropriate.

The only symbols that one should obviously avoid are ones dealing with:

  • New Age
  • horoscopes
  • fortune telling, or
  • anything with an anti-Christian theme based on Catholic teachings.

From the Catechism:

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

Hope this helps,

Mike

Kyle replied:

Hi Mike,

Thank you for your time and response.

I've used the past few days to reflect on your response. In fact, one of the things that lead me to bring the question to you is the fact that, at different times and places throughout history, the triquetra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triquetra) has held various meanings, including as a sign of the Blessed Trinity. It's been used by Christians as well as Wiccans and Neo-Pagans. I presume the Wiccans and Neo-Pagans are the faiths you're referring to when you suggest avoiding the
"New Age" symbols. Without clear-cut lines about to whom the symbol "belongs to", I wasn't sure whether or not to avoid it.

I would gather from the fact that "The Catholic Company" sells items that feature the trinity knot that Catholics, in general, aren't opposed to its use [and/or] don't recognize it as a Neo-Pagan symbol. I think I can make a leap of faith that, since you aren't familiar with it, that it's not such a ubiquitous symbol of the Blessed Trinity in American Catholicism that it would be universally offensive to give as a symbol of my commitment to be a positive force in her life, borrowing the Irish symbolism of "love, honor and protect" — three things any man should strive to perform for those in his care ... although I could be wrong.

Having resolved this I have one other follow-up question:

  • Is it disrespectful to add a layer of meaning to a recognized symbol of the Blessed Trinity?

I'm not certain whether or not you can answer this question.

Again, thank you for your time and effort!

Kyle

Mike replied:

Hi, Kyle —

You said:

  • Is it disrespectful to add a layer of meaning to a recognized symbol of the Blessed Trinity?

It depends on what the layer consist of. If it is something in tune with Christianity and the Trinity, I see no problem, but if it is not, without know what that "layer of meaning" was, I'd be very concerned.

Mike

Kyle replied:

Hi, Mike —

I simply meant a "layer of meaning" that represented my commitment to love, honor and protect her. I believe these are Christian values, although I've been out of Christianity for so long, that I'm not sure. Nothing crazy — certainly nothing driven by another faith.

Kyle

Mike replied:

No,

There's obviously nothing wrong a "layer of meaning" like that, since issues dealing with love, honor and protection originate from the Trinity.

Mike

Kyle replied:

Great!

I sincerely appreciate your efforts and work with me. I also appreciate your patience — I feel like an ignorant fool asking such simplistic questions.

Many thanks to all of you, and especially you, Mike.

Sincerely,

Kael

Mike replied:

No problem Kael.

Our Team's motto is the only dumb question, is the one not asked.

If you wish to go deeper, consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to learn everything we believe as Catholics.

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Take care,

Mike

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