February 13, 2008

What Will You Do?

Another of my Lenten meditation on the Cross.

This is, by no means, a theological or doctrinal musing. However, I don’t believe any of what I’m about to say is contrary to Church teachings but I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong. Please do.

Why is the Cross so absent from so many of our Catholic Church sanctuaries? (One could do a similar post on their absence in Catholic school too but I’ll focus on churches for this post) Yes, there is SUPPOSED to be one but there are some parishes that don’t have it. I know of one parish that has a very Blair Witch Project looking cross over the altar. It’s two bundles of broomstick looking materials crossed together. No Corpus. Why would they bother with a Corpus? They can’t even get the Cross up without it looking like a Wiccan symbol.

When I was a dissident, one of my favorite dissident priests shared a lot of his perspective on the Cross. What I took away from his teaching was: The Cross is bad if it is perceived as anything other then a symbol of the Resurrection. Like most dissidents they get it a little right. Reminds me of the readings from Genesis 2 and Matthew 4 we just heard this past Sunday: The Tempter also speaks in ½ truths.

The Cross is a symbol of the Resurrection. But, why would it ONLY be that? Jesus certainly had no reason to suffer and die for the sake of something He did. He could have escaped Pilate if He wanted. His Father could have leveled the land to save His Son if there were even the remotest chance His Son was not capable of getting away on His own. There is no question that Jesus was assured a place at His Father's side anyway. What and why, then, if NOT for OUR sakes?

The Cross is also a symbol of Sin and Death. If Christ did not have to die for any other reason then He was a political prisoner (also a typical belief of the dissident crowd limitations of Jesus) then what’s the point? Of anything? Why bother to go to Church? Why bother to believe? Why bother to persist in the effort to turn away from the worst aspects of your character and better yorurself? Why prepare for the next life? If you are going to think Jesus was just a political figure, why not just put that cool Che Guevera poster from your dorm room up in Church? Many people with Che Guevera posters have as much real understanding of who Che was as they do Jesus The Christ.

The Cross, to me, represents the sins I keep fighting against in the hope that I won’t die to Christ and that I can be raised to eternal glory with Him and the Angels and Saints. It also represents the daily crosses I carry, some of which are sins, some of which are troubles and irritations.

When I was a dissenter I liked the eternal glory part as long as I did not have to reminded that there is hard work to be done to earn it. This is the real reason you don’t see a lot of crosses in dissident parishes

The Cross is a continual reminder of a Truth they can only ignore as long as it’s not staring them in the face.

When you are successful in removing the symbol, then, I think, it’s easier to belittle or outright ignore the “tough” teachings on Sin and Hell. Some days I wonder if Sin and Hell really ARE the tough teachings or if the idea that a living person suffered and died for US, ME, YOU is the really tough teaching. I think when you reflect upon it all that way then you wonder what you owe that person in return for such an enormous sacrifice on your behalf. If He can do that, how can I do less?

8 Comments:

Anonymous Lisa said...

Wow, you are on a roll of great posts. I agree 100% with this one.

God bless, Cathy!

February 13, 2008 7:29 AM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Hi Lisa! May God bless you!

February 13, 2008 8:25 AM  
Blogger japhy said...

As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said:

"Keep your eyes on the crucifix,
for Christ without the cross
is a man without a mission;
and the cross without Christ,
is a burden without a reliever."

February 13, 2008 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post, and I love the quote from Bp. Sheen -- it's so true that a lot of people want Christ w/out the Cross. but that's not possible, because He said Himself, "If anyone wants to come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me." There can be no crown w/out the cross. thanks so much, Cathy.
Regards from Canada,
Patricia Gonzalez

February 13, 2008 10:43 AM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Right on, Ms. Cathy of Alex.

My prime criteria for rating sanctuaries is a great crucifix. Jesus is Divine Mercy and I need that all the time. And his Passion and Death on the Cross are what (hopefully) will enable me to join Him in his Resurrected Glory in Heaven.

Being able to meditate while gazing at a wonderful crucifix really brings me into touch with the sacrifice that Jesus made for me, personally.

St Olaf destroyed one of the all time great crucifixes. I still like their small chapel. The Basilica's new chapel has one of those awful modern "resurrection crucifexes." Fortunately, they have wonderful crucifixes in the main church, one carved in stone and permanently affixed to a pier on the Gospel side of the altar. The other of silver and gold above the high altar.

Unfortunately, their Notre Dame trained Belgian liturgist (who majored in baptismal founts) likes to take the small one down for Lent in keeping with progressive thought.

Lumen Christi in Highland Park is one of those awful modern designs constructed almost in the round with the tabernacle behind most of the parishioners. But when they merged St Leo's with St Gregory's and St Theresa a couple of years ago, the brought the wonderful wooden crucifix from St Theresa over to the new building and made an awesome difference in terms of having something to meditate upon.

Just some thoughts.

February 13, 2008 6:12 PM  
Blogger Tom in Vegas said...

The Cross symbolizes the worst thing ever done, and, at the same time, the best thing ever done.

I find the more "secularized" appearance of Catholic Churches and schools absolutely disgusting. That's why - to be perfectly honest - I DO NOT find the Roman Rite all that captivating. On the other hand, those Eastern Catholics sure do know how to do it. When you walk into a Byzantine Catholic Church, you know for sure this aint no mere auditorium to wave your hands and sing hallelujah.

February 13, 2008 7:03 PM  
Blogger Angela M. said...

Two words...blood atonement.

February 13, 2008 7:39 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Angela: True. I've been meditating lately on Abraham nearly sacrificing Isaac and the lamb from that account linked to The Lamb that followed.

Tom: I hear you. Maybe one day we will all be one again and we can learn from each other!

Ray: I know you have a strong devotion to meditating upon the Cross, my friend. I thought of you when I was composing this post.

February 13, 2008 8:24 PM  

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