Risen Christ Cross above Altar

I went to Mass in a Church that has the Risen Christ reaching down from the Cross above the Altar.

I was crushed. It felt wrong to me. Might be from my Mormon background where we would distance ourselves from the symbol of the Cross. Christ Crucified, for me should be front and center. So many want to distance themselves from pain and suffering. I believe we must embrace pain and suffering in order to find a lasting peace, lasting joy. If we distance ourselves from the suffering Christ how can we fully understand His resurrection? I called and left a message about how I felt. A very short message and wanted to make an appointment with the Priest. I never received a return call. Just trying to open a conversation here. One that is important to me. love to hear your thoughts.


Did you embrace your pain and suffering?

Was this a church that you were visiting?

Anyway, I don’t see anything wrong with a large risen Christ instead of a crucified one hanging over the alter. It’s basically up to the pastor what he wants to do, or what he’s even able to do, with what he may have inherited from a previous pastor.


I was in a parish which had the Risen Christ. One o the parishioners had their knickers in a knot over it, and wanted to start a movement within the parish to get rid of it and replace it with a Crucified Christ.

The short question I had for him was “How many crucifixes do we need in the sanctuary?”

The short answer was that we already had three: on on the top of the tabernacle; one on the altar, and one in the sanctuary as the processional cross.

Not asked was how long he had been in the parish (something like maybe 10 years); yet those in the parish who had contributed the funds to build this church had been there for well more than 30; he had not even spoken with any of them concerning his desire to make a major modification of the building.

The crucifix has been around for the better part of the history of the Church. No one in this parish was denying that; but it also is a fact that Christ rose from the Dead; with three crucifixes in the sanctuary, it does not seem that a Risen Christ is ignoring the crucifixion,


Did they bring a crucifix into the sanctuary for Mass? It was there a small crucifix on the altar? That’s all that’s required.


This is a left-over from the feel-good 70s. Focus on the Tabernacle, as any crucifix is a symbol, but there in the Tabernacle is the One who bled to death for you. Also, take a look at the crucifix they process in with - it may be the one that you desire.

Sadly, in the years past, the focus on the Mass as sacrifice has been lost. But, that is its main purpose. We offer the Son to the Father in atonement for the sins of the world and we, being members of Christ’s Mystical Body, also offer ourselves. Even reception of the Eucharist is secondary to this!


I can think of a number of things in today ‘s world or today’s Church that might “crush” someone (the never-ending abuse crisis being one), but a crucifix you don’t like in a parish you were just visiting? For that matter, doesn’t the Church teach that every Sunday is a “little Easter?”


There are Catholics who like this and Catholics who don’t like this, but it’s fairly common to have a Risen Christ above the altar. The parish I grew up in has had a giant mural of this above the altar since the early 1970s and I don’t think it’s going away soon. There are many others with similar. I hope this is not news to you.

I would suggest that you either find a church to attend that has a crucified Christ more to your liking, or else just wear a crucifix and look at it as needed.

As for your call to the priest, if you are a parishioner of the church and still want to discuss with him then maybe call him again after the busy Advent/ Christmas season ends. But don’t expect him to be changing the design/ decoration of the church in order to suit your taste. I also don’t necessarily think having a Risen Christ above the altar means we want to distance ourselves from pain and suffering; it could be that people have a lot of pain and suffering front and center in their lives already and are happy to focus on a symbol of hope.

If you’re not a parishioner of the church in question, then it’s really not your place to be telling them how you think their church should look.


Forgive me. But I see everything my life has viewed from the foot of the Cross looking up at the Crucified Christ. I see everyone I have ever known, ever loved and even those I have in my past hated. I see all the Saints and Angels and sinners alike at this place in time, that spans throughout all time. Altogether, all looking up. And at this one place in time getting it. Understanding it.

All embracing each other, all at our very best. 3 little Crucifixes upon and around the Altar is far better than 2. 2 being better than one. One being better than none. One large life size Crucifix above the Altar is our Faith front and center. Its who we are as Catholics. It is our procession to go to it, to move through it, beyond it, to get to the other side. To Easter. It is a door that one should not replace with a false sense of Christianity. Like the money changers in the courtyard who had all their tables turned over in a fury of what was an act of love. I myself would replace every resurrected cross above every Altar and have it replaced with the Crucified Christ. That way I could make sure I give that one very special place back to the ones who need it most. It is for those that I would do this


First of all, I like you post a lot. But allow me to correct one slight thing. The norms for religious artwork and symbols in a Catholic Church now state there should not be redundant elements. One crucifix in close proximity to the altar during mass is required, there should not be two. Now this is not saying there should not be a small crucifix on or close to the altar if there is a large permanent one hanging above the altar, as they serve two different ourposes, so they are not redundant. But there should not be multiple small crucifixes upon or around the altar.

As to the theme of this thread in general, I am not a fan of the resurrected Christ’s on a cross. However, there is nothing wrong with it per se. I would point out that the large crucifix hanging above the altar is a relatively new thing to be so common. In older churches, the large altarpiece served the purpose of religious art proximate to the altar. Altarpieces have largely disappeared (unfortunately IMO) and that left a void which is now commonly filled by a large crucifix. Not a bad thing at all, but we assume it is traditional, and while it was certainly not unheard of in the past, it was not so common.


How is a depiction of the Resurrection false Christianity? Isn’t the Resurrection at the core of the Faith?


Let me give you a little insight into my own faith life as a devout Catholic regarding the Crucifix front and center in my life, in my heart, in my Church, my home and in my very soul. As I walked up to the hospital to find where I would receive my radiation for Cancer, I felt very blessed to find the Chapel not more than 30 yards from where I would receive treatment. I always wished I could spend time in a Catholic Chapel each day in prayer, but I have always been too damn busy. God in His own way answered that prayer. And I am more than grateful for my Cancer. It tends to bring everything in my life at the foot of the Cross. I am very comfortable there. It is my special place. Now when I am in the Chapel below the Crucifix, I am not spending time with a dead Christ. No, to the contrary I am spending this time with Him being very much alive and by my side. In my prior years I was part of a faith that did not have any Cross at all. Jesus’s resurrection was front and center. I have also attended churches where only the empty Cross is displayed, and I was perfectly good with that. But then something happened to me back in 99. I was blessed to learn about the Catholic Church at her source. The RCIA. Did you know what the LDS / Mormons wanted to see most during church tours that we gave? They wanted to see the Crucifix. This is where I could best speak to their hearts.

Now I see the empty Cross as exactly that, empty, just a Cross. But at least from where I came from it was nonetheless a Cross. I would like to say that an image of Christ Cross and Him resurrected is a lot better than just an empty Cross. I don’t see it that way. Its clouding my view of the Crucified Christ. Christ did not resurrect from the Cross. He died on the Cross. He rose according to the Scriptures three days later. For me that is what gives the Crucifix its meaning. Jesus was born to die for each one of us, this being His Mission. A Mormon lady came into our Chapel one day and sat down below the Crucifix above the Altar. I was the only one in the Chapel with her at the time. I gave her space. But when she started to weep, I had to go over to her, sit next to her. We did not say much. Then she looked at me and pointed to the Crucifix. With tears in her eyes she said this “Why can’t we just forgive each other” She got it. The Crucifix is a beautiful thing and I give God thanks every day that we have it front and center. Where reality of our sin, our faith is not diluted, cleaned up all nice and neat. Its not. There is a time for suffering and a time for joy. The two need their space. Suffering unto joy. It is a procession not a single step. Image


While I admire the symbolic importance of the crucifix to you, has it occurred to you that others could feel the same about the Risen Christ?


False sense of Christianity I believe is what I wrote.

Let me give you a story.

I once sat next to an elderly LDS man high up in his church. He was dying from Cancer.

He was able to open up to me as we became good friends. He was so scared to die. I understand this well, trust me. My thoughts were he has not spent to much time in his life with the suffering Christ. They are taught that the Cross is a bad thing. They have learned to focus on the resurrection. The happy stuff so to speak. Not so much the Crucifixion, the Passion of our Lord. He had been given a false sense of Christianity. I believe.

Satan has his ways to distract, he has his reasons. Giving one a false sense of Christianity can set one up to lose faith in God. To question why does God allow us to suffer for instance.

A priest was giving a talk on why God allows us to suffer when a young man sitting next to his wife said

“Father, we are good, we have not suffered anything that you are talking about”

The Priest walked over, kneeling next to them and said “It isn’t over yet”

A distinction without a difference. As a last item from me, just remember that one size never fits all, and your personal opinions are not universal any more than mine are.


Christ crucified is the center of the Catholic mass. There is no disputing this fact. While there may not be any technical rule broken by displaying a risen Christ above the altar, we lose a lot of consistency by separating Christ crucified from the center of the mass.


So it isn’t the Eucharist? Interesting…

Empty Tomb
Is this not our Church and her Mission? To embrace both the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Yes, I defiantly feel passionate about both.

But I can also see what can happen when one is to passionate about one without being as passionate about the other. I could speak about Easter with the same Passion that I speak about our Lords Crucifixion. The Crucifix above the Altar gives me focus, prepares us, helps us in joining our suffering with His. For Jesus to consul us. Jesus Himself gave his disciples 3 days to contemplate His death. He did not jump off the Cross as some demanded Him to do. There was a time to mourn directly underneath it. And mourn they did.

At the same time, I can look forward to Easter and all that is gives. The Cross with Jesus resurrected as innocent and connected as it seems is not in my mind the right time and place for it, being above the Altar. We need a space to mourn with Him, for Him and in Him. We need the journey to Easter to be a procession. We need the Crucifixion to stand first and foremost in our hearts and souls. It ends with Victory, Easter.


So this is false Christianity? And yes it’s a Catholic Church; not Orthodox.


That is beautiful! Where is that?

St John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cathedral in Munhall, PA

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