Large statues of Jesus hanging on the Cross

To be honest, it scares me. It’s like I’m looking physically at Jesus, and the sinner that I am and given my past, I find it hard to bear to look at the figure. My sins still haunt me, and I feel as though I have not done enough to find forgiveness and that I’m in a state of sinful unease. (Protestant churches tell you your past is your past and all is forgiven if you earnestly seek and pray — if I’m not mistaken, Catholics believe in penance that’s separate from confession…?)

Are Catholics just accustomed to the image of Jesus on the Cross? Am I just not used to seeing more vividly the suffering and pain our Lord had to endure?

Clarification: I meant statues in front of the church. We Protestants generally have a cross without Christ.

The “the statue of Jesus on the Cross” (generally called a Crucifix), shows what Christ had to endure to save us from our sins. It is the ultimate symbol of his love for us. The reason it may be hard to look at is because you are realizing that your sins put him there due to his desire to save you. Going to Confession is really a healing Sacrament. The priest, using the power given him by Christ, absolves (removes) your sins.

John 20:23 [Jesus said to the Apostles] Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.

Concerning sin in the Catholic Church… One must confess all mortal sins in the Sacrament of Confession. To be a mortal sin:

  1. Its subject must be a grave (or serious) matter.
  2. It must be committed with full knowledge, both of the sin and of the gravity of the offense (no one is considered ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are inborn as part of human knowledge, but these principles can be misunderstood in a particular context).
  3. It must be committed with deliberate and complete consent, enough for it to have been a personal decision to commit the sin.

1 John 5:16-17 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.

Here is a good article concerning mortal sin and venial (minor) sin:

Christ died on the Cross and man was bought into “Communion” with Christ, death was defeated by love, per Sacred Scripture, St Paul. Crucifixes appeared since the pagan Roman Empire then after Constantine in religious art etc. The Crucifix is an icon of the invisible God and a window to see the invisible and a everlasting reminder of the Blood spilled for your soul.

This is exactly what the Apostles and Saints of the Church have done and from the start, and many through severe persecution of their belief and worship. They bear witness to the spiritual reality of the Lord and place this in proper context

Your guilt is a result of your transgression which you see much clearer as you walk closer to the Light of the World. And the closer you walk the clearer this becomes. The Sacraments are a gift of the Living God, reconciliation/Communion aid the soul in remaining in a State of Grace with the Lord.

Catholics follow the law of Lex orandi, lex credendi,

“Lex orandi, lex credendi (Latin loosely translatable as “the law of prayer is the law of belief”) refers to the relationship between worship and belief, and is an ancient Christian principle which provided a measure for developing the ancient Christian creeds, the canon of scripture and other doctrinal matters based on the prayer texts of the Church, that is, the Church’s liturgy. In the Early Church there was liturgical tradition before there was a common creed and before there was an officially sanctioned biblical canon. These liturgical traditions provided the theological framework for establishing the creeds and canon.” Wiki Pedia

The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is one of seven sacraments of the Catholic Church.

In asking if Catholics continue to pray in penance aside from the sacrament, while this is true, I doubt they see this as penance as I don’t speaking for myself. I see this as a continuity of on-going conversation with the Lord which develops and grows in time, in other words as an individual you travel from kind of knowing who Christ is, to becoming friends with the Lord, to a deeply rooted friendship in bond and ultimately to love thus a relationship and path. Though as you enter into this way of life at first one may see this as penance, but this is indicative of how one is living in relation to the physical world. Thus its a changing reality and state of mind. This is why on the other end of the spectrum you see and feel an overwhelming state of peace and tranquility. This is where people encounter each other in harmony. For that indeed is the Lords will.

The Cross is most significant, its not that your not seeing it, its that you are seeing it.

Once you have confessed your sins and been absolved, all is forgiven. We are not supposed to dwell in the past, but continue to strive for holiness and move forward. To continue to wallow in guilt for sins forgiven may indicate that we do not trust Jesus for forgiveness and can be a serious hindrance to our spiritual growth.

We can learn from our past mistakes and sins (which is what we should be doing), but dwelling on them, like I said above, is bad for us spiritually.

The Crucifix not only reminds us of the suffering and pain our Lord had to endure, but also of His great love for us, that the Creator of the Universe was so in love with us that He willingly took on humanity and everything that entails, except sin, so that he could redeem us and we could be with him forever, even if that meant torture and death.

You know, a major difference in most Protestant theology as compared to Catholic theology is that Protestants believe their sins are covered by the Blood of Jesus, that God sees them through that covering. Catholics, however, believe that the Blood of Jesus cleanses, not just covers us, and no sin remains. Our souls are as white as snow. Complete and absolute and total cleansing. That may help in understanding forgiveness in the Catholic point of view.

First of all a Happy Blessed New Year to You and Yours
Respectfully; have you ever given thought that if looking at the symbolization of Jesus’s corpse crucified on the Cross haunts you or is it that it humbles you far more than fear alone.

The Good Book of scripture says the Fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom.
Something I believe we should (“all”) humbly take to heart. In my Catholic Gothic styled parish there’s a 15 foot Cross (Crucifix) with a 10 foot corpse of Christ Jesus hanging on the Cross high above on the east sanctuary wall.

Many uncountless times going to Catholic Mass I have gazed in contemplation looking upon that crucifix thinking about the price Jesus paid ransoming my soul throughout my life.

There’s a prayer that many Catholics recite to themselves while gazing at a crucifix.

Look down upon me, good and gentle Jesus,
while before Your face I humbly kneel and,
with burning soul,
pray and beseech You
to fix deep in my heart lively sentiments
of faith, hope and charity;
true contrition for my sins,
and a firm purpose of amendment.

While I contemplate,
with great love and tender pity,
Your five most precious wounds,
pondering over them within me
and calling to mind the words which David,
Your prophet, said of You, my Jesus:

“They have pierced My hands and My feet,
they have numbered all My bones.”


As I read your post, it got me to thinking about Law and Gospel. We Lutherans tend to make a distinction along those two lines, law and Gospel, and we also view the law as having three main purposes: curb - to control the actions of human beings living in this world, mirror - to convince us of and show us our sins and the need for our Savior, guide - to show us how to lead the Godly life, the type of life He expects us to live.

Traditionally, Lutherans tend to use crucifixes. There is a large one hanging over the altar in our parish. Speaking only for me, the crucifix seems to remind me of a kind of convergence (probably the wrong word) of law and gospel. As you said, it reminds me of my sinful self (mirror, law), but also Gospel, the promise of grace and forgiveness through Him.

St. Ambrose:
*Accordingly, the Lord first gave the law; the mind of man devoted itself to the law by way of compliance and began to serve it so as to be subject to it. But the flesh was not subdued, because the wisdom of the flesh was not subject to the law and opposed its teachings [cf. Rom. 8:7]. For the flesh could not have been obedient to virtue, since it had been given over to its own desires and enveloped in its own panderings. Accordingly, we must work to keep the grace of God.
Therefore the mind is good if it is directed toward reason, but not at all perfect unless it enjoys the rule of Christ. The Lord Jesus comes to fix our [sinful] passions to His cross and to forgive our sins. In His death we have been justified, so that the whole world might be made clean by His blood. Indeed, in His death we have been baptized [cf. Rom. 6:3]. If, then, sins are forgiven us in His death, let the passions of our sins die in His death, let them be held fast by the nails of His cross. If we have died in His death, why are we called back again to worldly things as if we were alive to them? What have we to do with the elements of the world, with desires, with luxury and wanton behavior? We have died to these in Christ. But if we have died in Christ, we have arisen in Christ [cf. Rom. 6:8]; therefore let us dwell with Christ, let us seek with Christ the things that are above, not those that are earthly and corruptible [cf. Col. 3:1-2]. Christ, rising from the dead, left the old man fixed to the cross, but He raised up the new man. *

What an incredible image of grace - “The Lord Jesus comes to fix our [sinful] passions to His cross and to forgive our sins.”


We have a very large realistic crucifix oin our bedroom-it it 2 feet in length. We received it as a a gift when we were first married. I was concerned that it would scare our first baby. We love it because it reminds us of Jesus suffering, but still were concerned. Needless to say all of our children have not been affected by it at all in a negative way, the most they had asked was why is Jesus bleeding? That opened up conversations for us about Jesus.
Some times when friends come over, it is a bit much for them to see, because they are not used to this, even if they are Catholic. The reason is that they have not been exposed to a cross such as this, except perhaps in church, and that is fine.
Whatever helps you to truly feel the suffering of Christ and pray is helpful, and for us we are used to realism, as my husband and I have grown up with crucifixs and statues like this.
Conversely, I have a necklace with a cross and when I wear iit, people asked me if I was protestant. I love this cross, and continue to wear it because it too reminds me of Christ.

When I see the suffering of Jesus on the Cross, and how much He suffered for me, I desire to do penance for my sins, and offer up my own suffering to reduce the burden on Him. Seeing all suffering as a result of human sin, I have the desire to reduce the suffering of others, for when I see others suffering, I also see Jesus suffering. This is what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ, through the Eucharist.

The crucifix is my ever-present reminder of this, and nothing to flee from.

If your sins still haunt you its because you havent truly given yourself to Christ.(This I know due to the mortal sins ive commited) You also must pray that if your past sins hurt others, that they will forgive you. As far as the Crucifix, I actually get a tear in my eye knowing that we are so loved by Christ that He was willing to die for us Also, if you feel the way you do when looking at a Crucifix, perhaps the Lord is trying to tell you something :wink:

This is kind of a segue but didn’t want to start a new thread.

What is the current Church view on mortification of the flesh? Is it encouraged? Allowed but cautioned to be done with prayerful consideration? Can physical suffering be used as a tool to “cleanse/purify” the soul?

Is my remaining guilt a way for the enemy to torment me and cause me to think Christ has not fully forgiven me? Do I need to go through RCIA and all that stuff before I can go in a confession booth?

Back on topic, I also find the “normal” Protestant large wooden crosses a bit unnerving but bearable. The statues/figures in Catholic Churches…I feel like they can see how vile my soul is and that my physical presence there will “pollute” the service.

What is the current Church view on mortification of the flesh? Is it encouraged? Allowed but cautioned to be done with prayerful consideration?

IMHO, unnecessary. Every time we see another person suffering, and see their pain, it causes us pain. And should motivate us to do something about it. Volunteer some place where help is greatly needed, and you will feel this.

Can physical suffering be used as a tool to “cleanse/purify” the soul?

Any you feel can certainly be offered up. Learn and grow from whatever happens-- no need to wallow in misery and bitterness.

Do I need to go through RCIA and all that stuff before I can go in a confession booth?

No need. Just be sure to first explain yourself.

Actually very holy people have used it as a means to curb the call of the flesh since immemorial times.
It is a little known fact that Blessed JPII did practice it himself.

The reason I asked was because I recently read about St. Kateri Tekakwitha and how she used it for the purpose of purification (don’t know the exact term). Although I am nowhere nearly as holy as she is to the point of performing it to grave detriment to the bodily health…

The only way you will enjoy the sacrament of reconciliation is going through RCIA.
I would encourage you to embarque on it as soon as possible. It is obvious Jesus is calling you to a deeper friendship with Him. I can personally testify that when you hear HIs words through the priest it is like an immense weight has been lifted from your soul.
I am still a sinner and need to reconfess but I thank the Lord for this precious gift and pray Him to give me strenght so as not need it so often :rolleyes:

As for you polluting the service, please remove those toughts from your mind, it is obvious you are attending mass, perhaps you are feeling the presence of Him.
Hint, The Eucharist. :wink:

So when are you starting RCIA? maybe you can make it for this Easter and start partaking of HIM directly that will give your soul a boost. “Spiritual Steroids” :smiley:

Perhaps a healthy way of mortification is better-pushing youself at the gym, a very long distance jog for a cause etc. And offer the suffering as you perform to Christ.:slight_smile:

Well, I do live RIGHT NEXT to a Catholic Church. God knows I hate walking to places (may God forgive my sloth), and I don’t drive now. Perhaps it was His plan all along that I should move here recently…?

But I find it hard to give up the Protestant tradition :cool: :blush: Also, if I embrace Catholicism, I would have to believe that my Protestant siblings are wrong and possibly not saved (as some on this forum seem to suggest, which quite surprised me).

Being the timid skeptic that I am, if only God would give me a more direct sign…:gopray:


Also, if I embrace Catholicism, I would have to believe that my Protestant siblings are wrong and possibly not saved (as some on this forum seem to suggest, which quite surprised me).

Only God can judge that. And only God does the work.

Hmmm…perhaps you’re right. Exercise is good for the body, and after the very few times I did exercise, I felt refreshed and more alert and keen on praying, meditating, doing work for what I hope can be of benefit to God.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit