The Crucifix

A non-catholic family member asked about the crucifix commonly seen in churches and Catholic homes. “Why do they still have him on the cross? He isn’t there anymore.”

What is a good reply to this question.


“Without Good Friday, there would be no Easter Sunday.” We are reminded that Our Lord suffered a passion and death, for our sins. We know that He then went on to the resurrection, but first He took up His cross for our sins.

I find it interesting that the people who say that Christ is no longer on the cross, and therefore we should not depict Him that way, seem to have no problem at Christmas, when they see Him depicted as an Infant. They never seem to object to that and say, “Well, He’s not a Baby any more, so why show Him that way?”

The sad reality is that our world, influenced first by classical Protestant thinking, and then inevitably by secular humanistic thinking, does not like to see reminders that Christ suffered for us. It wants everything to be tranquil, happy and comfortable. That’s how most of us want our own lives to be, and left to our own devices, we are OK seeing the resurrected Lord–especially when He is serving and healing others–but reminders that we are sinners, and like all sinners, past, present and future, our sins are responsible for His crucifixion–these are things that humanity, including many Christians, naturally shies away from. Satan shies away from it, too–and he does everything that he can to influence even religious people not to behold the suffering Lord, because he knows that he has little chance when people meditate on the crucified Lord. Sorry, that’s how I see it.

No sorry’s needed. I agree wholeheartedly. The mentality of people has been revealed through our journey. This same family member did not think Catholics believed He rose again and was surprised to know Catholics recognize and practice Easter! This is what I’m dealing with! I only offer it up and pray The Lord gives me words to say.

I’ve never heard it said any better than that :yup: :tiphat:

Jesus on the cross depicts an important moment in history - that’s pretty easy to understand!

No Corpus on the Cross? Thank Iconoclasm. Protestantism is sometimes an amalgamation of all things heretical, and the fight over religious art got added to the mix. Some denominations are more extreme than others regarding what they will allow to be depicted in their worship settings. There are many “reasons” why they do this and you’d really have to ask each one fro their specific reason. But the bottom line is error and the ways it is manifested in each different denomination.

I’d like to add this to the discussion: The Crucifix (that means with God on the Cross) is a powerful thing for many reasons and there are stories of it alone being the instrument of miraculous measures from warding off demons to conversions to healings, etc. No wonder the Protestants don’t want it around. It might cause conversions.


I agree

I ususally reply to that objection:
“So what? Did two wooden beams manage to redeem us, or wasn’t it Our Lord’s suffering?”

I was asked the same question before…good thing I memorized this verse, courtesy of John Martinogni…

1st Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 23

I had a friend ask me why Catholics have Crucifixes in our churches…don’t we believe Jesus has risen? Why do we keep Him on the cross?
First of all, you would want to check out 1st Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 23. Paul says, “…but we preach Christ crucified…” Why does Paul preach Christ crucified? Doesn’t he know Jesus has been raised from the dead? Of course he does! But, he knows that it is through the power of the crucified Christ on the cross that the bonds of sin and death are broken. As Paul says in verse 24, Christ crucified is the “power of God”.
1 Cor 2:2, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Again, didn’t Paul know that Jesus had risen from the dead? Of course, he did.

Paul preaches Christ crucified because an empty cross has no power. The cross that bears the beaten, battered, and bloodied body of Jesus Christ, however, that cross is the “power of God”. This is why, we “keep Jesus on the cross,” because we, too, preach Christ crucified. The Crucifix reminds us not only of God’s power, but also His love for us - giving His only begotten Son up for suffering and death.

Also, here in this life we do not share so much in the glory of the Resurrection, as we do in the suffering of Jesus on the cross; after all, we must take up our cross daily if we are to follow Jesus, as it says in Lk 9:23.

And, we must die with Christ in order to live with Him as Romans 6:8 tells us. Where did Christ die? On the cross. The Crucifix serves to remind us of these things.

One other passage to keep in mind is Galatians 3:1, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?” Did you catch that? Jesus was publicly portrayed, before their “eyes”, as being crucified. Sounds kind of like they may have been looking at a Crucifix, doesn’t it?


Perfect answer…Thank You!

Mt reply to a coworker who is an AofG youth minister that snickered at the Crucifix I had at my cubicle and said “you Catholics don’t realize that he’s no longer on the cross?”
My reply was that the crucifix with the corpus is the embodiment of John 3:16. Never brought it back up.

As one poster once put it: The symbol of the Resurrection is not the empty cross; it is the empty tomb.

Great! I am going to use this.

Very well put. And there’s something very comforting about the crucifix that hangs on my wall. Seeing an empty cross doesn’t seem to do anything for me spiritually. But to see the crucifix… well. There’s a reason why the crucifix is covered during the Lenten season.

Some of you need to take a deep breath and slow down.

The Cross sans Corpus has been venerated by many throughout Christian history.

*When you see a poor wooden Cross, alone, uncared-for, and of no value… and without its Crucified, don’t forget that that Cross is your Cross: the Cross of each day, the hidden Cross, without splendour or consolation…, the Cross which is awaiting the Crucified it lacks: and that Crucified must be you.

  • St. Josemaria Escriva*

The empty cross reminds us that we have to nail ourselves to our own cross, what we have to crucify ourselves each day. Monastics have always venerated the empty cross as a reminder of the ascetic life. Most recently members of Opus Dei venerate the empty cross as a reminder of personal mortification and sacrifice. I sometimes carry a clunky little black wooden cross in my pocket. It helps me when I am tempted. I look at it and remind myself that I belong on that cross.

Remember that in our Baptism we have died with Christ. Paul understood this as being crucified with Christ.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

The Cross without a Corpus is not just a Protestant thing. Christians have been venerating the empty cross centuries before the reformation.


Hello All.

Yesterday when I went to the Passion of the Lord and listened to the first Reading from Isaiah, I couldn’t help but think of this thread:
IS 52:13-53:12**

See, my servant shall prosper,
he shall be raised high and greatly exalted.
Even as many were amazed at him
so marred was his look beyond human semblance
and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man
so shall he startle many nations,
because of him kings shall stand speechless;
for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard?
To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up like a sapling before him,
like a shoot from the parched earth;
there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
while we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
but the LORD laid upon him
the guilt of us all.

Though he was harshly treated, he submitted
and opened not his mouth;
like a lamb led to the slaughter
or a sheep before the shearers,
he was silent and opened not his mouth.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away,
and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living,
and smitten for the sin of his people,
a grave was assigned him among the wicked
and a burial place with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
nor spoken any falsehood.
But the LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.
Therefore I will give him his portion among the great,
and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty,
because he surrendered himself to death
and was counted among the wicked;
and he shall take away the sins of many,
and win pardon for their offenses.

I especially liked this verse: for those who have not been told shall see,
those who have not heard shall ponder it.

To me that says that those who look on a Crucifix even in our day are moved by it and they get the story of Jesus’ ignominious death for us sinners all by looking at a Crucifix. It tells a Story like no other. It does more than we know to gaze upon it. It is a meditation in and of itself. We who know tend to take it for granted I think, seeing it day in and day out. We forget the very real power it contains. We have no idea how many hearts ARE turned towards God out there in the world by glimpsing a Crucifix. But guess what? Isaiah told us what a Crucifix would do and would continue to do until the world contains no more Crucifixes in it.


:thumbsup: Sometimes we get too emotional and diss the (empty) Cross, but before we even had crucifixes (6th century, and even then it didn’t become universal until the Middle Ages), or even before the depiction of the crucified Christ became commonplace, guess what? What was common was an empty Cross.

That’s the silliest accusation against Catholics (Anglicans also use a Corpus Cross) and the easiest to answer. The Corpus Cross is to remind us of the sacrifice Christ made on the Cross.
Nobody, I repeat, NOBODY believes Christ is “still on the Cross”. :rolleyes:

Fine, but what does that have to do with the OP’s question RE: Jesus no longer being on the cross and the inappropriateness of Him being depicted that way?

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