I looked through the links above, as well - and if I relied on them, having also been attending protestant churchs, I too would have a fuzzy understanding of the meaning of the cross. It is something that many of us Catholics take for granted, because it is a given- it is the basic foundation upon which Christs Church is founded- call it our gold standard - without the cross - there is no hope - there is no value - there is nothing behind what we do at Mass. It is in fact mere ritual - if it were not for the cross. Meaning, had not the Word become Flesh, and God become a Man in order to die for our sins, no one has any hope of reaching heaven. Life in fact would be meaningless. Without the passion and death of our Lord, our Sins would be unforgivable - because the perfection which God demands could not be achieved. This were protestant and catholic teaching do agree. No one can be saved without the cross. How we accept this gift is where catholics and protestants are divided. What must we do? As a cradle catholic I never appreciated this, but I always knew about it, having been taught in 9 years of Catholic school that the Sacraments are God’s way of saving us, but that behind them, and the Mass is the Cross. I never got that- until I split from the Church, became a protestant, and then was led back Home when I got married to a Catholic. I never really got the “cross” as I think many Catholics do not - simply because we take it for granted. because it is a given - that we are Holy, because the Church we belong to is Holy, and the Church is Holy solely because of the cross. Watch the movie the “passion of the Christ”. Yes, its violent, but it does convey what Jesus did for us- He, God died for us so that we could be saved. When we are baptized we received the full gift - and were saved, and then when we become accountable we had to show God that we really wanted to love Him, to follow Him- on our own - without peer pressure, without guilt- because we Love Him as much as He loves us- and He calls us everyday to follow Him to take the narrow road, and if he finds us faithful when our days in this life come to and end, and because of the cross of Christ, He will say yes - I really knew you and welcome you home. Thats my goal - nothing is more important.