When I reflect on my life, I view it through the lens of the foot of the Cross, gazing up at the Crucified Christ. From this vantage point, I see all those whom I have loved, lost in this life, and those whom I once disliked. I see all the Saints, Angels, and sinners, all present at this moment in time, spanning throughout all of history past and present. We all look up, recognizing the importance of this moment in time. The peace that Christ provides when we turn to Him for strength in our suffering and joy can replace every pill, every drink, and every new age therapist ever conceived. His strength alone can sustain us through both joy and suffering until we reach heaven.
At the heart of our Catholic faith lies the Crucifix. It must remain at the forefront, never replaced by a diluted, false sense of Christianity. Just as the money changers in the courtyard had their tables overturned in righteous anger, we must never forget the significance of the suffering, Crucified Christ. It is unwise to rush too quickly towards the resurrection, grasping only at joy, leaving our faith hanging by a thread.
In my personal faith life, the Crucifix is front and center in my heart, my Church, my home, my very soul. When I was diagnosed with cancer and had to go to the hospital for radiation treatment, I was thankful to discover a nearby Chapel. I had always wanted to spend time in a Catholic Chapel every day but had always been too preoccupied. God answered my prayer in His own way, and I am grateful for my cancer because it brought me closer to the foot of the Cross. Rather than asking, "Why me, Lord?" It was, "Here I am." In silence I found peace.
When I am in the Chapel beneath the Crucifix, I am not spending time with a dead Christ, as some misguided souls may say. On the contrary, I am spending time with a living Christ who is very much present by my side. In the past, I was part of a faith that did not have any Crosses within its walls. They would say, "We focus on the living Christ, not the Dead Christ," to Satan's delight. However, it was at the Cross, Christ's crucifixion, where Satan was defeated. I have also attended churches where only an empty Cross was displayed. But something happened to me in '99 when I discovered the Catholic Church at her source. I realized the significance of the Crucifix, His death and resurrection as one, pain, suffering, peace, and joy as one.
Christ was born to die for each of us, and His mission was fulfilled on the Cross. He rose three days later, as was predicted, but it was His death on the Cross that gives it meaning. The Crucifix is not just a symbol; it is a reminder of the reality of our sin and the price that Christ paid to redeem us. It is not a sanitized version of our faith; an empty cross, it is a raw and unfiltered reminder of the suffering that Christ endured for us.
The Crucifix is a journey from suffering to joy, representing the time for both, and each deserves its space. One day, a Mormon lady came into our Chapel and wept at the foot of the Crucifix, reminding me of the importance of forgiveness. She said, "Why can't we just forgive each other?" She understood the significance of the Crucifix and its message of forgiveness.
The Crucifix is not just a symbol; it is the centerpiece of our faith. It reminds us of the sacrifice that Christ made for us and the forgiveness we can receive through His suffering. As Catholics, we embrace the Crucifix and its message, knowing that it is a reminder of the reality of our sin and the hope that we have in Christ. It keeps us grounded.
“Through the Cross, Jesus says you can love it all, even the enemy. There is no scapegoating. Everything, everyone belongs. There is only the broken and suffering Body of Christ eternally crucified, eternally resurrected: the human eternally crucified, eternally resurrected. What faith and surrender and courage it takes to hold the Cross and the Resurrection simultaneously, to let both simultaneously be true in you, in your body, in your marriage, in your children, in your neighborhood, in the Church”
~Richard Rohr, O.F.M