The Cross/Crucifix

The question was posted:

“I have been asked by many non-Catholics why do Catholics wear or display the crucifix? Their point is that Jesus is no longer hanging on the cross; He is risen. So why do Catholics display the crucifix on their necklace or on the wall or churches?”

I have heard that question many times as a former Protestant pastor. It always amazed me as the Sacred Scriptures very often speaks about the importance of the Cross.
Saint Paul said, “God forbid that I should glory except in the CROSS.” Galatians 6:14. It was the cross and more specifically Christ’s death and dying on it that was his biggest boast. It wasn’t in his great abilities, although he had many. It wasn’t that he was well schooled in Roman, Greek and Hebrew culture. It was that he was simple sinner that had no boast outside of the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ for all the world.

Also in his epistle to the 1 Corinthians 2:2 he said, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him CRUCIFIED.” It was Christ’s atonement and our ONGOING need to submit to that dying of self that was of the greatest importance in his evangelistic work to the church at Corinth. It was his passionate determination to preach that without such, there is no humility,no gospel and no hope!

Even as a former Protestant, I loved the Cross. Sure I know it was the heinous torture instrument of the ancient world and maybe of all time, but it was what the Cross represented that should be precious to us all. We have a God that conquered through humiliation, suffering and death and the message is the same for us today. “Through death, he destroyed him who had the power of death” (Hebrews 2:14).

Eschatologically the Cross will be an eternal reminder of why and how we made it Heaven in the first place. I love the passage in the Revelation when St. John sees “Lamb as if slain STANDING…” (Revelation 5:6). Only he can take and loose the scroll and all of Heaven falls down and worships!!!
I just want to shout Hallelujah and Amen!
Harry S.

Christ was crucified in time and outside of time: He was crucified; He is crucified. He was resurrected; He is resurrected. This is verified in every Mass. When we think of Christ dying for us, we view Him on the cross. A cross without Jesus means nothing. Many people died on crosses, but one was significant.

Very well said!

Yes, there are several verses that refer to Christ crucified and the importance of being crucified with him.

Of course, the “plain” cross is not denied to Catholics, as the crucifix is denied to many of our Protestant brethren. When a religious takes his/her vows they are given a cross, not a crucifix, because they are to think of themselves as dying to the world, the flesh and the devil, with Christ on his cross. And, we venerate the cross on Good Friday. Either is acceptable for displaying at home or on our person. To deny the crucifix is to deny the reality of our salvation–something those who do deny so seem to have overlooked.

We Catholics don’t display/wear the plain cross merely because Christ rose from the dead, but as a reminder of our own need to die daily to sin and to “take up your cross and follow Me.”

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. - 1 Corinthians 1:20-24

Not sure what this verse says about these Protestants. :wink:

Because without the Crucifix; there would be no Resurrection.

I once heard a protestant say that the crucifix was “ugly”, I replied “as are our sins”.
Coming from a protestant background where we only used the cross as a symbol since Christ was resurrected, i notice now when i see the crucifix - i see my sinfulness and it reminds me that He died for my sins. I would say many of our protestant brothers and sisters miss this realization (as i can tell from talking with some of my relatives about it).

Great verses and appropriated insight.
I would only like to say that when Holy Scriptures refer to “the Cross” it doesn’t mean two pieces of wood arraigned perpendicular to one another with nothing upon it. Its basic meaning is a punishment device to be Crucified upon. Unfortunately, our sometimes overzealous separated Protestant brethren believe that to look upon that symbol of the Crucifix is to deny “the finished work of Christ” or somehow it is “denying the resurrection.” This is not even an arguable point as Christ had long ascended into Heaven (Acts 2) when St. Paul wrote all these scripture passages.
It is an entirely deeply rooted theological issue of sanctification that we ultimately disagree with.
Hope this makes sense.

And, if and when Catholics are questioned about their use of crucifixes because our Lord Jesus Christ is risen…we can then share with them that it is the Risen, Glorious Christ that we receive in the Holy Eucharist!

And THAT is the greatest of all Sacraments and realities…

I Don’t get into lengthy discussions with people questioning my crucifix. I Just say:

Both cross and crucifix are symbols of our Christianity. Wear whatever you feel comfortable with.

I remember my old Lutheran pastor making the same point, i.e., Christ is risen. But Saint Paul emphasizes the crucifixion: “but we preach a Christ crucified . . . .” 1 Cor. 1:23.

Fr. Vincent Serpa has answered that question many times in the Ask An Apologist forum on this board here:

I have a diamond cross without Jesus on it. Is there something wrong with wearing it?

Tell anyone complaining about it to read their Bible some more.

*Galatians 3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! *

And ALL Christians should be VERY mindful of one simple fact. Jesus is God, and He is omnipresent. That means that He is everywhere, at all time. ALL of time is present to Him. And He is omniscient. He doesn’t forget anything.

So the Crucifixion is ETERNALLY present to Christ. Consider THAT the next time you are tempted to sin. Jesus will suffer eternally for that sin as He is eternally present at that moment as He is eternally present at all moments. THAT is the magnitude of His sacrifice.

He never forgets, and His memory never fades. The passage of time NEVER lessens the pain He suffered on the cross.

I’ll say no.

To be honest, I feel some Catholics get carried away in these types of discussions to the point that they almost sound like they denigrate a corpus-less (i.e. without the figure of Jesus hanging on it) cross. It’s true that the accusation that we don’t need or shouldn’t have crucifixes is ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean that a Jesus-less cross is ‘wrong’.
This is a processional cross from the 6th century, known as the Cross of Justin II (reigned 565-578). Notice that it doesn’t have a corpus on it. In fact, it was only in the 11th century that altar crosses and processional crosses became crucifixes. While the Crucifixion was already depicted in two-dimensional media (icons, frescoes, illustrations, reliefs), it wasn’t until the 10th century that freestanding crucifixes became common.

No, Catholics use crosses without a corpus all the time.
The is always from those who say, why do you Catholics keep Jesus on the Cross and demand an explanation. So they demand an explanation and are given an explanation. They reject that explanation and are given a more detailed and explicit explanation. They reject that, and the discussion continues until they see the rational and stop demanding that we stop using the crucifix. They are very demanding and adamant that it is a big problem to use a crucifix. Unfortunately they are wrong about that and we will not stop defending the use of the Crucifix, we will continue to charitably explain why it is completely Christian and biblical.

I certainly don’t think so. The sparkling diamonds would remind me of the grace the Lord purchased for us on the cross.

If the method of execution had been the electric chair, I wonder if folks would be wearing electric chairs on chains around their necks? And would they be making the sign of the electric chair and would churches have electric chairs on top of their steeples?

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