Have Both
Off the Wall, May 29
, 2014

So there I sat, looking forward with my head slightly elevated, staring at the crucifix that hung above the altar. Often when I go and worship, I prepare to become fully amerced in the peace and quiet, two prerequisites that enable one to enter into a meditative state.

A number of things slowly entered my mind. First of all, this symbol served its purpose as it reminded me of the death of Jesus of Christ on the cross for the sins of all of us, you, me, and human-kind alike. Such agony He went through so that we may be saved should humble all of us, to say the least.

So much can be thought about if we think of His birth, life and crucifixion. That is the real reason the Roman Catholic Church portrays Him on this symbol, to remind parishioners to never forget that God sent Jesus onto this earth to walk amongst His creation, teaching His word so that man cannot only understand His love, but community living amongst all believers.

As I began talking to our mediator, I unloaded all my petitions, for I knew our Lord would take my requests to the Father. Continuing to cast my eyes upon our risen Savior, I found myself at times touched by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Such peace came over me. I could feel the presence of the Trinity. I knew that the Holy Family of God was with me as I set forth to continue to offer my praises and worship Christ’s holy name.

Before Mass began, my eyes drifted first down to the altar, and then to the left of the lectern. There, in the corner, was a large empty cross draped with a white, signifying the resurrection of Our Lord. This symbol did not have Jesus hanging on the cross.

Further gazing around the area where the congregation gathered, originally called the nave, there were numerous crosses on the wall, all like the cross with the cloth. According to www.newadvent.org, “The object of stations is to help the faithful to make in spirit, as it were, a pilgrimage to the chief scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death, and this has become one of the most popular of Catholic devotions. It is carried out by passing from Station to Station, with certain prayers at each and devout meditation on various incidents in turn.”

Then I recalled upon entering my parish, St. James Church in New Alexandria, commenting to a friend, that the cross on the roof above the front door does not have a facsimile of Christ mounted on the cross, and to my knowledge, the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches are the only Churches that have both symbols representing Christ’s death on the cross.

Many readers may not realize that I haven’t always been a member of the Catholic faith. Thirty-seven years ago, I belonged to a handclapping, foot-stomping, animated church. It was there I gave my life to Jesus Christ and have grown in my faith ever since. One day, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and stated, “I don’t want you in this church anymore. I want you to join the Catholic Church. To make a long story shorter than short, I have now been a member and love the love that has been given me both spiritually and physically.

When I was a Protestant, I was reminded continually that Catholics didn’t believe that Christ rose from the dead because in ‘their churches’ He is still seen on the cross. I would like to think that some of these same people that made these accusations have been educated to the point that they now know that it just isn’t so.

If we are to call ourselves true Christians, then followers mustn’t paint false pictures of true believers.

Crucifixes, whether suspended from Rosary beads or seen above altars in Catholic Churches should spell out the reminder to all believers that Christ’s death on the cross was a sacrifice for all mankind. Because of His love for all of us, He gave up His life so we would be set free from our sins this merciful act. How can man not sense the love he has for each of us as we look upward at his outstretched arms hanging on the cross.

But know I am not condemning those who prefer empty crosses. Each is a symbol, a reminder at best. May we never forget why Christ died on the cross.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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