Why the Crucifix

We have a Crucifix in every Catholic Church for a reason. Most Protestants will display the empty Cross. The next step away from would be found in the Mormon Church where there is no Cross displayed at all. Catholics focus on the Crucifix has everything to do with the resurrection. Christ on the Cross is where the rubber meets the road. All the answers to this life are found at the foot of the Cross looking up. Its all there. Take it away as a reminder of so much that is good you are left with nothing. He came to die for us in order for us to be risen in Him…Lest we forget. The resurrection is all the good stuff…but we ain’t there yet. Are focus needs to be on Christ Crucified, in order to more fully understand the Resurrection. The Crucifix as the greatest symbol on earth helps us contemplate more fully.

A tangible symbol can be beneficial for some and may not be beneficial for all. It’s not as if Protestants forget what Jesus did and what He accomplished due to a lack of a physical cross with the carving of a what we interpret (somehow) Jesus to look like on it.

Like I said, such can be beneficial but not for everyone.

My church has a crucifix and an empty cross. That’s because both are true and there is no need to draw a distinction between them and declare one wrong and the other right. Such a distinction is silly.

Its my honest belief that if Christians who do not have a Crucifix close by or in their Churches dove deep into what exactly is means to have one close by all Christians would have one. I think the reason so many do not have it as the greatest symbol to remind them of the Crucifixion and what that en-tells personally in each of our lives is because it separates them from being too Catholic. The repeated saying that is heard most in regards to why not have the Crucifix over the empty Cross is because “We focus more on the resurrected Christ than the Crucified Christ” I think this has been learned and repeated without giving is deep meditation or more inquiry into why Catholics have the Crucifix front and center in our Churches and homes.

After a Church tour in Logan Utah I was respectably asked this by one of the LDS faith. “It seems Catholics focus more on the Crucifixion than on the resurrection, is this true?”

Now I know that he was taught this at an early age to create separation, and probably never spoke about it with a Catholic. I can’t remember exactly what I said but I do remember feeling that here we are 7 weeks into the Easter Season, celebrating Christ’s resurrection while most others around us have moved on from the Easter dinner and egg hunt. I felt for this man and did the best I could to answer. Every Mass celebrated includes His birth, His teachings, His death upon a Cross along with His glorious resurrection. And it all processes to Easter each and every year.

I agree up to the point of being silly in this sense. We need to encounter silly, in order for the one being silly to better understand the differences. Both being true and respected. Not just one.

I brought a Crucifix into a Episcopalian Church as a gift. I was told by two women in the office that they could not accept it because they only use the empty Cross. I thought that this Church used the Crucifix. We had a brief discussion. I said let me leave this here and tomorrow I will bring the same Cross without the body of Christ on it. They agreed. The next day I brought the cross and the same two women were in the office. One said “I think Jan wants to keep the Crucifix”. The Crucifix was in Jans office next to her on the desk. As I went to take it from her she held on to it like she did not want to give it back. She smiled… I gave her the empty Cross. Then she had a sad look on her face. Silly? I think profound.

Yes! Wow!

For those who ask, this is why we have the crucifix rather than an empty cross:

1 Corinthians 1:23
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumblingblock, and unto the Gentiles foolishness:

1 Corinthians 2:2
For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Galatians 3:1
O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been set forth, crucified among you?

That’s awesome, and I’m happy for you Catholics. :slight_smile:

If God is love, and love is carried out, shown, and proven by suffering, then it would make sense to show Christ suffering on the Cross for humanity…He showed love to His creatures by suffering in our stead…

Reminding us that we have to suffer ourselves as well, great saints or regular people each according to their allotment…

At the same time, we absolutely believe that:
1 Corinthians 15:14
New International Version (NIV)
14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

Sort of surprised that Episcopalians were uncomfortable with a crucifix, at first. But I recall an incident with the choir master of a nearby church who requested an empty processional cross at a synodical Mass because it was “important to emphasize the Resurrection”.

Episcopalians and Lutherans are pretty accustom to crucifixes.

Because he suffered and died. Its more reflective to see a crucifix showing suffering than an empty Cross. As Jesus said “Carry your Cross and follow me” we have to bear it.

Jesus ( Son of Man) did carry a Cross and was “hung on a tree”.


Yes - I can understand this - and yet I wonder if the lack of regular exposure to the crucified Christ image might not be hurtful…While on the one hand the Crucifix can be seen as putting too much emphasis on Christ’s death, the other extreme would be the empty cross putting to little emphasis on what Christ did for us.

I think that we all see this danger in the form of things like “the prosperity gospel” that presumes on God’s beneficence and ignores and distorts the true meaning of discipleship. Or at the other extreme - the sort of “I’m a miserable sinner and beyond hope” syndrome that falls near to or in to despair.

Why was the movie “The Passion of the Christ” so well received? Was it not, in large part, because it truly showed what Christ went through for us? To me - this is what the crucifix represents. For myself, I think that those who are not exposed to it are missing out on something important.

Just my thoughts.


A bare cross is a powerful symbol, but the crucifix reminds me of why I love Jesus and how he knows all our difficulties, fears, and sins, yet loves us that much.

Donald I can’t help but say “Have a great thanksgiving”
in Christ Jesus

As a former Pentecostal I think certain Protestants like to make a point of “correcting” Catholics that they serve a risen Lord…not one who is still on the cross like Catholics use…I think it’s more of a trendy thing to say to Catholics without any real thought behind what they say…I wear a crucifix and was asked by a Protestant friend why I wear a crucifix because Christ is not on the cross…when I explained that the crucifix represents the completion of the whole of Gods redemptive plan of salvation by the ultimate sacrifice of his only begotten son who gave his life for us by dying on a cross so we might be reconciled to God…and that is why I wear a crucifix…well…apparently my friend hadn’t thought about it like that…so he appeared surprised and had no further questions:)

I see the Crucifix in so many ways, so many thoughts run through my head. Forgiveness, reconciliation, to lay down ones life for a friend, victory over death, victory over satin.
Depression, joy, life, love etc…I see myself as the lamb upon His back, the Crossbeam in itself. I see a path all lit up, kind of like a cave with lamps lighting the way and at the end of this path is a hill with the Crucified Christ, people, a multitude of souls walking below it, walking by it. On the other side you come out of a fog, you begin to see blue sky’s, white puffy clouds, you look back and all you see is a very large glowing white Cross that is so high it touches the clouds. All around it our souls passing it by. You then See your family that you have lost, you see Jesus bringing them to you, they are following Him. He moves aside and you rejoice with them. But like a child you look towards Him, with your family you begin to follow Him and it does not matter where He goes.

Good explanation.

I remember listening to a CD once - I think it was Steve Ray - who addressed the above “correction” like this…
Most protestants do not have a problem with manger scenes…yet Christ is not “still in the manger” any more than He is not “still on the cross”…yet the image, whether it be the manger or the crucifix reminds us of something important…
just as you explained to your friend.


This is why it is so important for us as Catholics to dust off our Crucifixes and wear them. Not out of Pride by any means. Out of love for people like your friend. Gazing upon it is necessary. It is everything that is important, to keep its meaning front and center. It makes us a better people lest we forget. No matter how one feels when they look at it, it challenges, it helps, it is important. For some its simply hard to wear. In that case wear it. At least on Sundays. Christians wearing Crosses or the Crucifix help in ways beyond this discussion. Its what today’s world needs to see.

Without the Crucifix; there would have been no Resurrection.

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