On the Crucifix
No symbol of the Catholic faith brings greater hope and adoration than the crucifix. In the Catholic faith, the crucifix is so much more than a cross that does not depict the body of Christ on it. This is not to say that Catholics do not revere the cross as a holy symbol but theologically speaking, the crucifix is far more aligned with the teachings of the Apostles. The Crucifix is the image of the Catholic faith as St. Paul taught, “But we preach, Christ crucified…” for in this image is the Body of our Lord who died for us. It is different from crosses as the cross is bare without the Body of Christ on it. We may see the crucifix in many forms, such as a wall or desk crucifixes or even on a Rosary. Many would argue that the cross alone symbolizes Christ resurrected and this of course is incredibly important but the synthesis of our faith is about redemption. Salvation can only be had through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Therefore to wear the Crucifix is a pious and devout way of revering our Lord. Simply, we Catholics wear crucifixes because we were saved by Jesus and not simply a cross!
For a Catholic to wear a crucifix is an outward manifestation of his/her faith in Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the tyranny of Satan. This is not to say Catholics are superstitious but rather wear it in faith knowing it is the symbol of power God has obtained over the demonic. Every Catholic who abides by the Doctrines of the faith knows it is non-negotiable in deciding whether or not Satan and his apostate host exist. But this was the reason that Jesus came to us; Our Lord Jesus came that He might dwell among us, taking the form of a slave to sin though never touched by sin, that he may be used as a spotless sacrifice for the redemption of the world. Besides the Paschal Mystery of Our Lord, the crucifix also shows us the cost of reparation and redemption. Understand clearly, however, the difference between redemption and salvation because they are not one and the same! When Christ died on the cross, the world, though most unbelieving and pagan were redeemed or in other words, elevated for the possibility for salvation. For no man could enter into heaven before Jesus willingly laid down His life so we could have it; if you recall, those that died in God’s mercy before Jesus went to Sheol, or the abode of the dead. But it was at this very moment that Christ gave His life and died on the cross did we have the opportunity for life. We know that His resurrection also was glorious as He lead the way for the Blessed Hope, or our resurrection if we but deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him daily.
However, this does not mean that wearing a simple cross negates this faith. In fact, there are many culturally designed crosses that do not have the body of Christ depicted on it that actually signify awesome Catholic teaching. For example, the Jerusalem Cross, which consists of a large center cross and four smaller Greek crosses (a cross with four equal arms, similar to a plus sign) in each quadrant. It has also been referred to as the Crusader Cross which dates back to the 11th and 12th Centuries when Jerusalem was relieved from Orthodox Islamic tyranny in 1099. “One of the leaders of the Crusades, Godfrey de Bouillon, was the first to use the Jerusalem Cross as a distinct symbol of the new Crusader state, known as the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. De Bouillon believed that the cross symbolized Jesus Christ and the city of Jerusalem which is the root of Christianity.” Although, the Jerusalem Cross also believed to represent several things. For example, some historians believe the four smaller Greek crosses surrounding the large center cross represent the four Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; while other historians believe the five crosses (the large center and the four smaller surrounding it) symbolize the five wounds of Christ.
Either way, you cannot go wrong by wearing the Crucifix or the Cross. What matters is our alignment with the faith that Christ established. The cross/crucifix is indeed a sacred symbol all Christians can easily venerate therefore when beholding either symbol, make sure to devoutly contemplate the glory of Christ our Lord in His passion, death, and Resurrection. Amen