A Cross or a Crucifix and why it matters by Patrick Miron

I Am a Catholic
Something to think about: “A Cross or a Crucifix”
by Patrick Miron

A Question

Catholics and a few Protestant Churches choose to use a “Crucifix” {the Cross with the corpus of Christ attached}; while most Protestant churches choose to use only {and sparingly at that}, the Cross without the Divine Presence attached.

Does or can this effect the practice of one’s Faith in a profound and significant manner?
THIS WILL BE THE TOPIC OF THIS LESSON. But first a bit of background.


Growth of the Christian cult

The Cross to which Christ had been nailed, and on which He had died, became for Christians, quite naturally and logically, the object of a special respect and worship. St. Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 1:17: “For Christ sent me not to baptize; but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of speech, lest the cross of Christ should be made void”; in Galatians 2:19: “With Christ I am nailed to the cross”; in Ephesians 2:16: Christ . . . . “might reconcile both to God in one body by the cross”; in Philippians 3:18: “For many walk . . . enemies of the cross of Christ”; in Colossians 2:14: “Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross”; and in Galatians 6:14: “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world”.

It seems clear, therefore, that for St. Paul the Cross of Christ was not only a precious remembrance of Christ’s sufferings and death, but also a symbol closely associated with His sacrifice and the mystery of the Passion. It was, moreover, natural that it should be venerated and become an object of a cult with the Christians who had been saved by it.

The Veneration of the Cross: In the seventh century, the Church in Rome adopted the practice of Adoration of the Cross from the Church in Jerusalem, where a fragment of wood believed to be the Lord’s cross had been venerated every year on Good Friday since the fourth century. According to tradition, a part of the Holy Cross was discovered by the mother of the emperor Constantine, St. Helen, on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 326. A fifth century account describes this service in Jerusalem. A coffer of gold-plated silver containing the wood of the cross was brought forward. The bishop placed the relic on the table in the chapel of the Crucifixion and the faithful approached it, touching brow and eyes and lips to the wood as the priest said (as every priest has done ever since): ‘Behold, the Wood of the Cross.’

Adoration or veneration of an image or representation of Christ’s cross does not mean that we actually adore the material image, of course, but rather what it represents. In kneeling before the crucifix and kissing it we are paying the highest honor to our Lord’s cross as the instrument of our salvation. Because the Cross is inseparable from His sacrifice, in reverencing His Cross we, in effect, adore Christ. Thus we affirm: ‘We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross Thou has Redeemed the World.’

A crucifix (from Latin cruci fixus meaning “(one) fixed to a cross”) is an image of Jesus on the cross, as distinct from a bare cross. The representation of Jesus himself attached to the cross is referred to in English as the corpus (Latin for “body”).[1][2]

The crucifix is a principal symbol for many groups of Christians, and one of the most common forms of the Crucifixion in the arts. It is especially important in the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, but is also used in Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, in Coptic, Armenian and other Oriental Orthodox churches, as well as in. Methodist, Lutheran and Anglican churches, but less often in churches of other Protestant denominations, which prefer to use a cross without the figure of Jesus (the corpus). The crucifix emphasizes Jesus’ sacrifice — his death by crucifixion, which Christians believe brought about the redemption of mankind. Most crucifixes portray Jesus on a Latin cross, rather than any other shape, such as a Tau cross or a Coptic cross.” END Quotes from this source.

Click to access Why%20the%20Crucifix.pdf

Why the Crucifix? By Greg Witherow

“Sometimes Catholics are asked, “Why do you use a cross with Christ nailed to it?
If the questioner is a Protestant (typically an evangelical), there are usually a couple of reasons for the question. One is a belief that the crucifix represents a skewed theology. A second reason is the belief (by some) that a crucifix is idolatrous. It should be pointed out Catholics are not opposed to using a cross. It is a matter of record many Catholic churches have a cross on their steeples. In this essay we will examine why Protestants object to a crucifix and why Catholics use them.

Understanding Our Separated Brethren

Protestants see their empty cross as a witness to the Resurrection. They might tell you, “I serve a risen Savior, therefore my cross is empty”. The implication is an empty cross exclusively
witnesses to the gospel, as it speaks to the finished work of Christ while a crucifix does not. To
some, a crucifix is offensive as it is perceived to elevate Good Friday over the Resurrection.
And it reinforces Protestant suspicion that Catholics hold to a distorted, morbid and truncated
gospel. The following passage, which speaks of our justification (salvation), might be used.
“[he] was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

A second group of Protestants view the crucifix as idolatry. Why? It is an image of Christ that
is revered by Catholics. It is therefore claimed to be an idol. Somewhat related is that the
crucifix is a reminder of the Sacrifice of the Mass. Many Protestants falsely believe Catholic
priests intend to re-kill Christ as a sacrifice during Mass. No wonder they take offense! With
such an understanding it would be incredulous if they did not. Let me further illustrate.
As some readers know, the author of this paper is a former evangelical (Calvinist). My wife and
I have homeschooled our kids for years. In doing so we used a popular curriculum produced by
an evangelical publisher and used by thousands of Christian schools and homeschoolers. After
our conversion we continued to use the materials with the provision that we would pre-check the
class assignments knowing the publishers were anti-Catholic. I’m glad we did.

We soon came across a children’s story about a little boy who had a Catholic friend. In the story
the evangelical boy somehow came in possession of a crucifix. Holding it in his hand he cried
out that it was an idol and threw it against the wall, breaking it into pieces. Illustrations depicted
the scene. His mother, while admonishing him as overreacting saw his intentions as virtuous and
his conclusion as sound. Such anti-Catholic curriculum is not rare in Christian schools.
We Preach Christ Crucified”

The Catholic response is as follows. When the apostle Paul tried to articulate the gospel message into its most simple, core meaning he stated, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. AND ” “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. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. ” In the spirit of Paul’s admonition, the Catholic Church sees the crucifix as a visible image of the gospel. With Paul the Church proclaims, “we preach Christ crucified”. Perhaps not just Jews and Gentiles take offense to this? True, the crucifix is not the only way to “image” the gospel, but it is certainly a Biblical one. Such a response may give our first inquirer reason to pause. Our second inquirer is usually more contentious and difficult to convince. Suffice it to say Catholics do not worship idols (or saints) and we don’t pretend to re-sacrifice Christ in the Mass.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 2114:” Idolatry is a perversion of man’s innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who “transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God”. (Catholics worship) God alone. Any Catholic will tell you a crucifix is not God. No sane Catholic worships it).
Paragraph 1366: The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the
sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit… (Catholic priests do not pretend to re-kill, re-crucify or re-sacrifice Christ in the Mass).

General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM)
Paragraph 308: “There is also to be a cross with the figure of Christ crucified on it, either on the
altar or near it, where it is clearly visible to the assembled congregation”… (This requirement is
for the Latin Rite Mass).

Holy Scripture:

1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 1:23-25 “ But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews {And in current times, also the Protestants and all unbelievers} indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness: But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

FROM Dewy bible explanations: [25] The foolishness: That is to say, what appears foolish to the world in the ways of God, is indeed most wise; and what appears weak is indeed above all the strength and comprehension of man.”

1. Revelation 5:6-10 “And I saw: and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the ancients, a Lamb standing as it were slain, having seven horns and seven eyes: which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat on the throne. And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints: And they sung a new canticle, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; because thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God, in thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation. And hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth” END OF QUOTED ARTICLE

To the best of my personal knowledge the entire Protestant community uses their own version of the Ten Commandments wherein the issue of IDOLATRY is made with great emphasis, the second Commandment.
The Catholic version is: [Which historically existed about 1,500 YEARS before Luther & the KJ bible]

1. I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.
2. You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain
3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day
4. Honor your father and your mother
5. You shall not kill
6. You shall not commit adultery
7. You shall not steal
8. You shall not bear false witness
9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife
10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods

In the Protestant Churches, they are as follows, with the differences highlighted:

1. You shall have no other gods but me.
2. You shall not make unto you any graven images
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain
4. You shall remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
5. Honor your mother and father
6. You shall not murder
7. You shall not commit adultery
8. You shall not steal
9. You shall not bear false witness
10. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor

While both versions essentially say and teach the same thing in their entirety, the difference of understanding and priority are profound. WHY? Because they seem to establish a biblical bases for their separation [SCHISM]. They seem to have “hard evidence: of Catholicism falling away from Christ truth.
A few months ago I was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan visiting my mom in an Elder Care facility, and also visiting my sister, who has left the Catholic Church, and is a proud and active “Christian” [a former Baptist] even though she no longer goes to any church regularly. She reads the bible daily, has an active prayer life and is close-minded about everything Catholic. On my previous visit I had the opportunity to read her from HER own bible; John 20:19-23 “

King James Version (KJV) John 20:19-23

19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, then the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said , he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad , when they saw the Lord 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit , they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain , they are retained “ King James online version QUOTE

When I read this to her; she replied: “well that may be what it say’s BUT that is not what it means.” I then asked “well then what DOES IT MEAN?” To which she replied: “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” Now back to the more recent trip. As Divine Providence would have it, our Aunt who lived in Wisconsin died and we went to the funeral. It was held in a Catholic Church as our family is mostly Catholics. On the way back to her place she asked me: “WHY do Catholics leave Christ on the Cross, don’t we understand and believe in the Resurrection?”

I explained [or tried too], that in the RCC Easter is the highest and most significant annual Feast Day celebrated by the Church. That our Hope and Expectation for Eternal Life with Christ hinges of the fact that Christ DID rise on the third day, and did ascend back into heaven; so we too MIGHT conditionally have the possibility of eternal Life. [She holds to a OSAS philosophy]

This is in MY PERSONAL OPINION, highly significant as it relates to the practice of our faith and many of our significant differences with our non-Catholic brethren. WHY? What I shared about my sister is a quite common non-Catholic view of what Christ has promised. Once Saved, Always Saved [salvation CAN’T be lost for ANY reason rest on the premise that anyone CAN read and self-interpret the bible. Because Christ has Died AND Rose from the dead [PAST TENSE] there is no need to ponder or focus on sacrifice; Christ, or our own. And all of this goes back to their understanding that the Catholic Church HAS lost God’s protection, which chooses to ignore Mt 16:18-19 & 28:16-20; especially verse 20 where Christ commits to being with His Church [specifically, & exclusively until “the end of time, ”so they are {seemingly}“Justified” in what they do, teach and preach

So let’s look at a few passages from the bible avail to them, but ignored or misunderstood, wrongly translated, because they neither teach nor understand the One Infallible Rule for RIGHT understanding of the bible {which BTW is a Catholic birthed book.}

Never EVER
Can, may or DOES
One Passage, Verse, or Teaching
Have the Power or authority
To make Void, Invalidate or Override
Passage, Verse or Teaching

Such even as the slightest possibility would render the entire bible as worthless to teach or learn ones faith.

First the issue of Idolatry: FROM THE BIBLICAL COMMANDS OF YAHWEH-God on how to build the Ark of the Covenant; Exodus 25:18-20 “Thou shalt make also two cherubim’s {A class of angels} of beaten gold, on the two sides of the oracle. [19] Let one cherub be on the one side, and the other on the other. [20] Let them cover both sides of the propitiatory, spreading their wings, and covering the oracle, and let them look one towards the other, their faces being turned towards the propitiatory wherewith the ark is to be covered.”
Clearly the Cherubim’s are “graven images” ordered by God Himself. The again in Numbers 21:6-9
6] “Wherefore the Lord sent among the people fiery serpents, which bit them and killed many of them. [7] Upon which they came to Moses, and said: We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and thee: pray that he may take away these serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. [8] And the Lord said to him: Make brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: whosoever being struck shall look on it, shall live. [9] Moses therefore made a brazen serpent, and set it up for a sign: which when they that were bitten looked upon, they were healed.”

So then it would seem that it’s NOT “graven images” that are forbidden as GOD Himself commanded they be made. Rather it is the intended USE of the object that determines if it is forbidden or permitted. IF it points to God, IF it is an AID to one’s Faith and belief in God, then it’s permitted and a GOOD thing. On the other hand if it competes with God, and draws one away from the One True God, then and only then is it a forbidden image or practice. So one can easily disprove the Protestant claim of Catholics and Idolatry. This then also defeats their claim of a bible-foundation for a justification for their schism from the One True Faith taught and desired by Christ.

Matthew 16: 13-19 “And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? [14] But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. [15] Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? [16] Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. [18] And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19]And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, {TEACH IN MY NAME ON FAITH BELIEFS AND MORALS} it shall be bound [ACCEPTED AND BINDING} also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.”

Matthew 28:16-20 “[16] And the eleven disciples {Apostles} went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. [18] And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. [19] Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [20]Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded {TAUGHT} you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world”

The issue is Sacrifice {and perhaps an unknowing absolute need for it?}

“Take Up your Cross and Follow Me” Phil.2: 8 “And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross Luke.9 :23 And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Mark.8: 34 And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Luke.9: 23 And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke.14: 7 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Matt.5: 19 “Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. “ Matt.19: 17 “And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”

As to the issue of a truncated Faith
I hasten to point out the obvious:
There is But One True God

One God can have only One true set of Faith beliefs which is historically true as well as biblical truth. The keys were given only to the Catholic Church; along with the essential power to teach fully and correctly His One Faith. Then Christ, following His own example of only One Chosen People in the OT, founded ONLY One new and true Church, which existed exclusively as the “only Christian Church” in the entire world for about 1,000 years before the Great Eastern Schism.

Mt. 16:18 “ And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. Mt. 28:19-20 “ Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [20]Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”
So in order for this Protestant position to be possible; God has to be lair or the bible is in error!
It is profoundly amazing what the seemingly meaningless act of removing Christ from His Cross has permitted the non-Catholic community to conclude. And this evens unknowingly {as it COULD and ought to be recolonized as such}, is a Grievous Mortal sin of PRESUMPTION. The mystery of Divine Justice on man’s salvation looms large, because His Sacrifice is downplayed or ignored leading them to feel free to also ignore the self-sacrifice that Christ clearly commands and expects from each and all of us, including Sacramental-Confession as God’s “normal way for the forgiveness of all sins.” And they also miss out on God Himself in the Most Holy Eucharist, where Christ Sacrifice is made Present Truly, Really and Substantially, at every Catholic Mass. {1st Cor. 11: 21-29} Thus the issue of wither or NOT their sins are actually forgiven seems unanswered. Behind their personal-beliefs in “altar calls” and the Sinners Prayer” as effective means of sin-forgiveness lies the that sins must NOT be forgiven in a manner approved or commanded by God, settling rather for personal chosen belief in only mortal- MAN”S invented-criteria for “Being Saved,” while ignoring the Powers entrusted to THEE Church, as the exclusive Holder of ALL Keys to heaven {Mt. 16: 15-19} as the way God Commands wants, and accepts our sins to be forgiven. {John 20: 19-23}. This amounts to a denial of sin for those accepting the foolishness of “Once Saved Always Saved.” They error and put their Souls at risk choosing to mix “what God COULD do” verses what “God DID {biblically} choose to do.”

One can wonder who will be saved, and who will be rejected. ONLY GOD can make that call, so we ought not to prejudge them, but trust in God’s Mercy, to find a way to either convert them, or save them. And I have no doubt that WE are to be an active part; and to assume an active role is aiding God in this quest for souls.
We all should be exceedingly grateful for God’s grace and calling us HOME to His Catholic Church, with its Seven Sacraments, and grace limited ONLY by our right and frequent use of them, with its One True Faith, and knell before the Crucifix with grateful minds, hearts and souls. Understanding His Sacrifices for us, and knowing that there remains a debt, and a degree of sacrifice to be repaid and demanded of all of us.

God Bless you and yours,

Patrick Miron

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I am an Informed and fully practicing Roman Catholic

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