The Cross; with or without a Corpus?
Back in 2018, I wrote a reflection titled “The Crucifix.” The most Visible Sign of our Redemption! Within this article were proponents of the Roman Rite requiring that “on or close to the altar there is to be a cross with a figure of Christ crucified.”
Why do some obviously complain since Christ is no longer on the cross, as he is risen? This will bring to the ears of those who are questioning the Roman Rite, he definitely is risen, in the present tense. It is not something that Christ did 2,000 years ago only. It is incorrect to say that Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead in a past tense. Since our belief in the Resurrection of Christ is a present happening, the reminder of the corpus visible is always a present tense occurrence.
I know there will be antagonists who will contradict this, but if we are in concert with the understanding of the “Collapse of Time” where Christ is lifting the bread and chalice during the consecration and is present on Calvary at that very moment, he is always present in the tabernacle, and his corpus, although an inanimate figure, is more than a reminder of his crucifixion. We, as Catholics, do not just have symbols to remind us of the crucifixion, but a reality that the presence of the corpus goes much deeper than that. A symbol, yes! But the very sign of Christ’s presence in a place of silence, respect, and awe. You may just sit and reflect as the corpus seems to call out to each person “I AM here! The symbolic thought is what it fully represents, not what it actually is.
In some Catholic churches there are large crosses with no corpus. A way of saying He is Risen. The theme in the minds for many may indicate everything is now past history. The Easter Triduum is over and now we shall wait until next year and do it all over again.
Absolutely not! As we know, or should know, with God in eternity there is no past. Everything and everyone in heaven is in a present state of being. Keep in mind that at the Transfiguration Jesus appeared to Peter, James, and John, in his resurrected body, shining in his glory, and speaking with Moses and Elijah who also are with him in eternity.
Without bringing chronology into this discussion, Moses and Elijah are already in the presence of Almighty God and the Lamb of God is there as well.
Somehow, we as humans living in a world of past, present, and future are locked in with blinders to fully comprehend what eternity is like and one we shall be part of once this life is through.
So, when the church adheres to the image of the cross with a corpus makes sense since more than just symbols without true meaning of Christ’s presence in more ways than one become an adherence to knowing Christ is more than a memory; he IS and always will be.
I hear many times that “I don’t need to know all of this theological rhetoric in order to get into heaven.” I agree, but when we are determining the many aspects of who Christ is, understanding these attributes hinges on knowing who Christ really is, in a personal way.
Ralph B. Hathaway.