Why do Catholics love the crucifix so much?
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The crucifix is a quintessentially Catholic icon. Although other Christians fondly and proudly display the cross, it is the crucifix that is largely unique to the Catholics. Why is the symbol of the death of Christ so important to Catholics?
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Many non-Catholic Christians view the crucifix askance. It is common in Protestant theology, especially Evangelical Protestantism, to celebrate the risen Christ which is most commonly represented by the cross without the form of Jesus crucified. In other words, a bare cross will suffice.
However, in Catholic thought, the barren cross, while perfectly acceptable, does not complete the understanding of what happened on that first Good Friday.
As Catholics we agree with all Christians that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to take away the sins of the world. He was crucified and died to fulfill this duty. The fact that Christ suffered and expired in the worst way imaginable serves as a lesson that our sins are no small thing. Indeed, our salvation is the result of a willing sacrifice by the very Son of God Himself who chose the ordeal because He so loved the world.
Therefore, the cross represents the "lite" version of the death and resurrection of Christ. However, Catholics are not "lite" Christians in any sense of the word. Catholic tradition is steeped in the fullness of commitment. Look no further than to religious vocations to recognize this. Many religious take lifelong vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and spend their entire lives in absolute service to the Church.
This is not to say that Protestants don't often do the same, but in Catholic tradition everything is taken to another level of discipline.
Catholics celebrate the entire ministry of Christ at every single Mass, with special emphasis on the Last Supper, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The Liturgy of the Word covers begins with an Old Testament reading accompanies with a Psalm. Then, a reading from the New Testament, often from one of the many letters of the apostles is shared. Finally, a selected Gospel passage is read which shares with parishioners a teaching from Christ Himself.
After the Liturgy of the Word, we enjoy the Liturgy of the Eucharist which involves the reenactment of the Last Supper, a meal to which we are all called to eat the Body of Christ and to drink the Blood of Christ, shed for us that sins may be forgiven.
Visible in every Church are the Stations of the Cross, a devotion in which the stages of Christ's crucifixion are recalled by prayer. These stations almost always have artistic depictions of scenes from the event.
St. Paul also make it very clear to the early Christians that the crucifixion itself was integral to the Christian devotion. St. Paul mentioned the fact that Christ died for us all (2 Cor 5:14). In the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, he mentioned that he preached about "Christ crucified," (1 Cor 2:2) to drive home the importance of the deed of the crucifixion itself.
There's something about the very human commitment of Christ, the whole concept of "Thy will be done," that echoes through Catholic teaching. Whether we recall the story of Abraham and Isaac, or the words of Mary, Mother of God who said, "Let it be done according to Thy Will," the crucifix reminds us that the Christian journey is not all rainbows and clouds. It involves very real sacrifice. Like Jesus, we must sacrifice of our time, our money, our labor, and sometimes even our hearts and lives, for Christ, such is our commitment.
So the crucifix represents among other things, our level of commitment to Christ. Yes, we believe in and trust what comes after the cross. We believe in the Resurrection and that we too will be with Christ in heaven one day. However, on Earth we must make sacrifices to serve our God, our family, our neighbor and our nation.
We will do so.
The crucifix represents our pledge to live fully as Christians, and our wiliness to make all sacrifices required to fulfill the vocations to which God calls each man, woman and child.
Let it be done according to thy will.
Every Catholic should have a crucifix in their home, above their bed, or wherever they reside to remind them of the commitment required to serve God. If you need a crucifix for your home, place of business, or to present as a special gift, you will find a wide selection here. Remember, to Live Catholic, Shop Catholic.
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