Skip to comments.The Crucifix Scandal
Posted on 07/21/2003 10:44:35 AM PDT by el_chupacabra
The Crucifix Scandal 7/21/03
I was assisting in a history class one day shortly after my conversion. I was wearing a crucifix and the history teacher, who happened to be a Baptist, commented that crucifixes always bother her.
She asked me why we Catholics kept Jesus on the cross when he was risen from the dead. She expressed her offense at the sight of Jesus hanging there 2000 years after the fact.
Prompted, I believe, by the Holy Spirit, I broke into a chorus of an old hymn traditionally familiar to Baptists: Lest I forget Gethsemane , Lest I forget thine agony, Lest I forget thy love for me, Lead me to Calvary.She walked away with raised eye brows and a pensive nod.
Before I had given any thought to being Catholic I had decided I wanted a crucifix in my house. I had been plagued for too long by a pet sin that was draining the life out of me (more literally than I knew at the time) and I knew that part of the problem was that I took sin way too lightly. After all, being a Calvinist, I believed that I was one of the chosen few and that sin like this was only a temporary interruption in an indestructible relationship with Christ that began at the point of time I put faith in Him, and would not end until Christ himself had seen it to completion. I could not lose my salvation, so sin meant only a temporary loss of fellowship with Him.
Or so I thought.
I knew I needed to be constantly reminded of the price my Lord had paid for my salvation so that I would stop this presumptuous disregard for His will in my life. So I approached my (then) Baptist husband carefully and asked how he would feel if I got a small crucifix for the wall by my desk. He seemed unconcerned about it, especially in light of my motivation.
Little did I know that two years later there would hardly be a room in my house without one!
Recently my brother debated Patrick Madrid on the veneration of Saints and the use of images as an aid to prayer of devotion. The crucifix became a central feature of the debate. My whole being was shaken by the look of disgust my brother gave the beautiful crucifix that had been displayed earlier. How could anyone look with disgust on the most self-sacrificing act of love ever known? How could anyone loath the image of ones Savior dying as a ransom for their soul? It was chilling.
As we read the lives of the Saints we find that many times victory over doubt or grace in suffering came as one of those precious Saints of God fixed their eyes on a crucifix. Converts have come home, myself included, because of the encounter with life-giving love that a crucifix represents
Could it be that the sight of the price paid for us makes some very uncomfortable? Could it be that as we look upon Christ giving his last drop of life for us we realize that we are called to the very same sacrificial life? Could it be that fixation on the resurrection, made sanitary by the omission of the crucifixion, allows us to believe we are called to live in painless power rather than in humility and sacrifice?
Should not the sight of the crucifix brings to the surface our regard for sin? Should it not be impossible to set our eyes on a crucifix and allow any sinful thought to linger in the same mind that is filled with that sight? Much like a recitation of the Ten Commandments, does not the sight of our sacrificial Lamb make us feel the pangs of every imperfect fiber of our beings?
In 1 Cor. Chapter 1, St. Paul tells us that we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. But to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For Gods foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and Gods weakness is stronger than human strength. To those puffed up with the wisdom of this world, the sight of the Son of God hanging from a cross is a stumbling block, a sign of offense. But to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God, the wisdom of God, the love of God. And since His strength is made perfect in weakness, the crucifix is the still life caricature of the triumph of Holy Love over selfish sin. Far from being the low point of Christs life and something to be or brushed aside or forgotten, the Crucifixion is the pinnacle of the Glory of God in Christ Jesus.
So it is with gratitude I wear this crucifix. It keeps my heart focused on the Lover of my soul, it keeps me submitted to the cross I must take up daily to follow Him, it reminds me how much he loves the rest of the world and how much he wants me to give to reach them.
Lest I forget . . . Lead me to Calvary .
Patty Bonds is a Catholic convert who lives and writes from Phoenix, Arizona . She is the founder of Mary's Mantle, an apostolate to serve Catholics who are experiencing family opposition to the faith. Her brother is James White, an anti-Catholic author and speaker.
6 I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me.
8 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:
2 I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
17 They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods.
graven image from the Hebrew
6459 pecel peh'-sel from 6458; an idol:--carved (graven) image.
1) idol, image
6458 pacal paw-sal' a primitive root; to carve, whether wood or stone:--grave, hew.
1) to cut, hew, hew into shape
a) (Qal) to hew, hew out, quarry
molten image from the Hebrew
4541 maccekah mas-say-kaw' from 5258; properly, a pouring over, i.e. fusion of metal (especially a cast image); by implication, a libation, i.e. league; concretely a coverlet (as if poured out):--covering, molten (image), vail.
1) a pouring, libation, molten metal, cast image, drink offering
a) libation (with covenant sacrifice)
b) molten metal, molten image, molten gods
2) web, covering, veil, woven stuff
How many ways can Exodus 34:17 be interpreted?
Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
I have a Fundamentalist Baptist friend who thinks Christ on the Crucifix is awful and an abomination. He cannot understand that Catholics do not worship images, but that they are a reminder, especially the Crucifix, of what Jesus Christ endured for our salvation. An empty cross is just that, empty. And a cross with a statue of the risen Christ is just not biblical (but very popular in a lot of churches, I notice).
I found it kind of ironic that this same man has a picure in his office of his little daughter kissing a cross with her eyes closed. The picture is beautiful but I'm reminded that for him, everything Catholics do is for the wrong reasons.
Catholics kneel before God, not "to" statues, regardless of what you may perceive. We also don't think the saints and/or their statues are gods. There is only one God in three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
If you can't see the difference between worshipping a golden calf, and a Christian displaying a crucifix, don't blame Exodus for not being clear.
Neither do Catholics think any kind of statuary are "gods." That exists only in the fevered and bigoted imaginations of anti-Catholics.
But its so hard to refuse to be disabused of the notion that Catholics worship statues when you put it that way! That's not fair!
Patty Bonds has a deeper understanding of salvation than my parish priest. Like Patty's history teacher, my RC pastor often says that Christ was only on the cross for 3 hours but is risen forever. Unlike Patty, he does not want to be reminded of the price paid for his salvation.
And you know this to be a fact how...?
I responded that like Paul, "We preach only Christ, and Christ crucified."
He didn't say anything more.