As Catholics, we have a fondness for saint medals. We wear our favorite saints, our patron saint, or Our Lady medals regularly. It is not as common to see Catholics wear a crucifix unless it is on a chain with other medals (often referred to as a saint necklace). There are a few important reasons why we as Catholics should be wearing a crucifix.
It is vital to remember the crucifixion of Christ is the essential point of Christianity. Without the crucifixion there would have been no sacrifice for our sins. There would be no hope of salvation without the pardon obtained through the body and blood of Christ on Calvary. Without the crucifixion there would be no resurrection. Without the resurrection, Jesus would not be Lord and God. Without Jesus as Lord, the Church would not exist.
The importance of the cross is abundant in Scripture.
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)
“There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.” (John 19:18)
Protestants wear a cross, without the body of Christ on it, as recognition of the sacrifice of Christ and an understanding that it shows the resurrection of Christ (since he did not remain on the cross, but rose from the grave.) Catholics, however, recognize that contained within the crucifix is the suffering, death, agony, and our sin that Jesus suffered in order to bring about redemption. It is an avenue of grace for us to live a life more united to Him.
The crucifix reminds us, as Christians, of the extreme and inhumane death Christ suffered for us. Other religions, such as the Mormon Church, refuse to allow their members to wear a crucifix or even a cross. They do not believe in wearing it because they claim it is “bragging” about the death of someone. Yes! We are boasting of what Christ did for us. We are not saying we were worthy or that we deserved it, but we are proclaiming that He deemed us valuable enough to suffer for our salvation and redemption.
The crucifix also is a sign of Jesus’ victory over death and sin. It is a reminder, as well as a proclamation of our faith, that Jesus is Lord of all creation. He is Lord of life as well as death. He is God.
The crucifix is also a Catholic sacramental. We have many sacramentals, such as saint medals, that are often blessed by priests or deacons for us to use to grow in our spiritual life. These sacramentals are different from the seven sacraments, but nonetheless are instituted by the Church so that they allow the disposition of our souls in order to receive the graces God bestows upon us.
The act of wearing a crucifix not only serves as your reminder of what Christ did for you. It not only points you back toward heaven each time you put it on or see it in the mirror. It also provides a way of proclaiming to others around you who you belong to and who you serve.
The crucifix, at its core, is a simple way to say you love the Lord and recognize daily all that He has done for you.