An interesting observation...


This past week my DH and I were in North Carolina to visit my mom, her husband, and my grandma. We had a fantastic visit!

While we were there, we spent two hours touring the retired battleship, the USS North Carolina, which is docked in Wilmington. I highly recommend this tour, it was extremely interesting and educational.

Anyway -

In the mess area where the sailors would eat and socialize, there was a chapel in the corner. No walls, just an altar and an ambo. On the altar was a cross that would sit on the altar. On one side of the cross there was the corpus, the other side was bare. The commentary about the chapel stated that for Catholic services the corpus would face forward, and for Protestant services, it would be turned so the plain side faced forward.

The symbolism of this was so staggering to me I had tears in my eyes. I have to wonder if any of the Protestants there on board 60 years ago, ever realized or thought about how Jesus must have felt to have Him hidden, and turned away from sight. For the men to be there for worship, but not find His body, which was nailed and beaten for us, worthy of being part of that worship. It was so very sad.



It is sad :frowning: Protestants just don’t get it :shrug:


That is an interesting observation, indeed. When I was in the Navy, on deployment in the Gulf, there was probably one Navy Catholic Chaplain in the area every couple of weeks. I was on a destroyer, so the Chaplain would have to be air-lifted from ship to ship to ship several times on a Sunday. Sometimes, based on certain factors, the chaplain wouldn’t be able to fly in. So, there were prayer services on Sundays, and that would be my only way to observe my Sunday obligation. I can imagine that 60 years ago, on a ship as large as a battleship, they’d have a chaplain available.

Another thing to think about is that it would be nearly impossible to have a pastor or minister representative of each Protestant faith traditions. Sometimes there would be a Baptist, or a Lutheran, etc. champlain available.

Basically, all the Christian faith traditions were under-represented in the modern United States Navy.


At the Air Force base chapel I attended as a kid, behind the altar were two crosses, one with corpus and one without. They were connected to a line, so when pulled, you could switch which one showed between the curtains. For the Protestant services, the plain cross was used, for the Catholic Masses the crucifix was used, and for Jewish services the curtains were pulled in front of both. I remember thinking it was strange that the Protestants had their own cross.


What is it that you see Protestants not getting?

We understand very much the horror of the cross and what Christ both went through and accomplished on it. But when we worship we worship on Sunday, the Lord’s day, in recognition of his resurrection, not his crucifixion. And on Easter Sunday the cross was empty. So was the grave, and in some senses what we should have in the church is a small hollowed out rock with a stone laying off to one side. But we don’t. Some things, many things, in protestant churches are still carryovers from our days when we too were part of the Catholic Church. The use of the cross as a symbol of our faith is, I suppose, one of those. But we have made some modifications. In not presenting Jesus on cross, we are not saying that his death wasn’t important, we are just proclaiiming that he isn’t still dead. Surely Catholics get this.


There is nothing wrong with a crucifix and there is nothing wrong with an empty cross. Both crosses tell a powerful story, one speaks of the Christ dying in agony for our sins. The other of the Christ who is no longer on the cross, but has arisen. Catholics should not condemn Protestants for holding high an empty cross and neither should Protestants decry Catholics who proclaim Christ crucified. There simply is no issue here.

Frankly, both Catholics and Protestants should raise both crosses in their respective churches because, together, both crosses tell the same story, like the front and back of a single coin.




GraceSeeker, yup. Most catholics get what you are saying. No catholic (well these days I suppose you could find one that believes ANYTHING) thinks Jesus is still dead. So we get kind of amused when that explanation is offered as if it were news to us! :wink:

I think the reason that it became catholic tradition to use an image of Christ crucified, is because human nature tends towards brushing aside unpleasant truths, especially when they are about our own flaws. Precious few christians forget the joy of Christ risen. Most all of us tend to forget once in a while just why he had to die. Rembering is rather good for our humility. :o


I get it, too. I was (am) a Protestant for over 20 years, and I didn’t get why Catholics used the crucifix…until this Easter. I do think it’s sad to have the Crucified Christ turned back…but I know not everyone can be pleased, I guess. In a non Naval ship setting, I’d have been offended, too.


In a Lutheran Church (ELCA) where I once worked, we had several different crosses and images of Jesus we used at different seasons of the year. One had Christ dying on the cross. One had an empty cross. One had no cross at all, but a figure of Jesus ascending.


Not only two crosses, at the Chapel on a base where I lived, we also had Holy Water fonts that could be turned in to the wall with just a flick of the wrist.

If I remember right, the church on Base did have Stations, but I am thinking they turned in as well.

And we also had a Blessed Sacrament Chapel, since we couldn’t leave Jesus out in the main chapel during Protestant services.

It was a great use of the building.


Yeah, protestants are totally unaware that Jesus died on the cross for their sins; that’s why they use a bare cross. Because they hate Jesus and they can’t stand to look at him during their services. That certainly is an interesting observation.

You’re obviously a deeply sensitive person and not a reactionary sensationalist at all.


My particular tradition uses no cross at all in our Meetings for Worship…we meet the Risen Christ each First Day and join with one another in His Living Presence.

Catholics, IMO, tend to say things about Protestants in much the same way Protestants tend to say things about Catholics…example…when Protestants say…“Catholics worship the Virgin Mary to the exclusion of God…” Catholics tend to get their hackles up and come out defending their vereration of Mary not as “worship” but “adoration”…many Protestants will talk past Catholics and ask why Catholics worship Mary instead of God…kind of like…“have you stopped beating your wife yet?”

When Catholics make similar claims about Protestants…everyone just “talks past” one another…and we forget…we do have One Lord…and while Catholics define “church” differently than Protestants…Protestants do believe we are members of One Church…perhaps we could understand each other better if the false generalizations were dispensed with…


The obvious solution is to stop treating our religions like they’re our favorite sports teams.


The obvious solution is for protestants to come to their senses and reunit with Holy Mother Church.

Question for Non-Catholic Christians

well, both C’s and non-C’s recognize and believe Jesus died on the Cross for us. I agree that it is ok to have either one - no problem. My question is … why some, not all obviously, have problem thinking that the crucifix is some sort of idolatry?

It would be idolatry if I hang a cow on the cross, but how could it be if the one on the cross depicting Jesus?

My brother, baptized at a Lutheran church, has a crucifix at home. When I came to CAF, I started to know how others thought about crucifix. I had thought we all had no problem with it, but I was wrong.

God bless.


Very well said.


Maybe and maybe not…but that is not the topic of this particular thread.


Thank you for your kind and flattering comments. :rolleyes:



There is nothing wrong with a crucifix and there is nothing wrong with an empty cross. Both crosses tell a powerful story, one speaks of the Christ dying in agony for our sins. The other of the Christ who is no longer on the cross, but has arisen. Catholics should not condemn Protestants for holding high an empty cross and neither should Protestants decry Catholics who proclaim Christ crucified. There simply is no issue here.

Here here here! Good post.

I currently work as a Chaplain’s Assistant in the United States Army. We do Ecumenism much better than most civilians. Remember, it was actually several hundred years after Christ before Christians began to display crosses as decorations…for the first 300 years of the Church crucifixion was still a brutal and widely used form of execution. And if I recall my history right, it was a while after this that we began to include the corpus on the cross. Further, I recall that some of the reformers dropped the corpus for fear of idolatry…
having said that…both are valid, Catholics foucus on the sacrafice by keeping the corpus, Protestants focus on the victory with the empty cross…and both are valid.

One Chaplain I worked with, a presbyterian (PCUSA I think) would have me leave the crucifix and the stations out during his service quite often…and ALWAYS during lent.

We Christians, Catholic and Protestants, would honor Christ much more if we acknowledged our differences and focused on our commonality. With very few exceptions this is what I’ve seen Army Chaplains do…I’m Catholic and my best prayer partner is Evangelical. My boss is Southern Baptist (but, as he says, not the scary kind…i.e he enjoys a beer…publically…and dances…etc)…the priest we have is one of the best I’ve ever seen civilian or military…since he came to us in January the Catholic mass attendance has grown by more than 1/3…enough that we have 40 to 50 people standing because of a lack of seating (this is a good problem to have) and we’re looking at adding a Sunday Afternoon Mass to reach the younger soldiers…all this said because he’s praised equally by the Catholic and Protestant congregations.

One of our Chaplains is married to a Catholic woman…they attend mass together…and then he conducts the Protestant worship immediately following…he says he goes to share Christ with his wife…but the added benefit is now he gets to steal sermon ideas.

Guys…we have real differences…and some that can’t be ignored…but some that can…instead of Protestants accusing Catholics of idolatry or not trusting the resurrection because we use the corpus…or instead of Catholics saying Protestants don’t acknowledge the brutal sacrafice on our behalf…acknowledge that the other has a rich traditon in why it uses corpus or not…and MOVE ON…this is one of the little issues that shouldn’t divide us and doesn’t please God.

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