Tag: crucifixes

THREE REASONS WHY I WEAR A CRUCIFIX

THREE REASONS WHY I WEAR A CRUCIFIX

I’m not big on jewelry, but one thing you might notice about me is that I always wear a crucifix around my neck. It is not a cross, but a crucifix. There is a reason for that. In fact, I want to share three reasons why I wear a crucifix.

Reason #1 — Remembrance: To Remember What True Love Looks Like

The crucifix is different than the cross. The cross is the instrument of torture with which Jesus was murdered, a particular favorite of the Roman Empire. The cross is the altar on which the Son of Man offered himself as an eternal sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. The cross is the new tree of life. The cross is significant, but only because of the time Jesus spent hanging from it.

For some people the cross is scandalous. It is something they hold to be in the past. As a Catholic I believe that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is eternal, and made ever-present at every Mass held everyday in every country around the world.

“But we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block for Jews and foolishness for Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

Don’t get me wrong. I know Jesus is not on the cross. He is not dead. He is risen. In fact:

“A Catholic is one who believes that this Jesus remains alive, active, and accessible in and through His Church.” (Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan)

Jesus on the cross is what matters. It is the ultimate act of God’s love for us. To gaze upon the crucifix, for me, is to look upon love in its most perfect expression. In the busyness of my daily life I need to be reminded of that, and reminded often. The crucifix around my neck serves as a reminder of God’s love for the world, but particularly God’s love for me.

Reason #2 — Inspiration: To Inspire Me to Take Up My Cross Daily

The crucifix might be thought of as a gruesome sight. However, for me it is inspiring. To see Jesus on the cross is a reminder of the challenge he made to his disciples—the challenge he makes to me.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

It’s not a suggestion or a good idea; it is the condition of discipleship. To be a disciple is to make your life about this challenge. And believe you me, it is a challenge. This is why I need to be inspired. This is why I like to contemplate the image of Christ crucified: not because I enjoy seeing him broken and bloody, but because I know those are the footsteps in which I must follow.

As a Christian I know I am called to be a martyr—a witness. Who I am in life and in death must bear witness to Christ. Whether that means I will literally lay down my life for him, I cannot be certain. But come what may, the challenge made to we disciples is just that: to accept the pain and suffering that can and will come our way because of our free decision to follow Jesus.

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).

Seeing Jesus on the cross is an inspirational example that I am called to follow, and this is another reason for the crucifix around my neck.

Reason #3 — Accountability: So Others Will Hold Me Accountable as a Christian

The last reason I wear a crucifix is for accountability. It is not jewelry. It is not meant to be flashy. But I do want others to see it. It’s not because I want them to think I am super holy. (Although I should be striving for holiness; after all, that is the call we share as Christians.) I wear a crucifix so that others may know that I am a Christian and hold me accountable to that claim. For it is one thing to tell people you are a Christian and another to show them that you are. I want to be treated differently because of my faith. I want people to know that I live my life differently than most. When they know this, they will expect me to. And if I don’t, then I need to be called out for it.

Accountability is important. Fraternal correction is essential. We shouldn’t be able to parade around claiming to be new creations in Christ, but living lives that don’t follow suit. And the crucifix I wear is the perfect symbol of my faith that tells all those who encounter me that I am a Christian and take my faith seriously.

I can’t wear the crucifix and then deny my faith. It would cause scandal. People would notice. So it is the perfect way to invite others to challenge me to live my faith.

There may be other methods of achieving each of these three things shared here, but for me the crucifix is the best. If you wear a crucifix but don’t know why, then I hope these reflections have served to help you understand this practice on a deeper level. If you aren’t Catholic and always wondered why the crucifix is held in such high esteem among Catholics, then hopefully this explains it.

May the sacrifice of Christ on the cross bring the power of God’s love and mercy into each of our lives, that we may “proclaim Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23) and “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

Use These Powerful Sacramentals As Your Weapon For Battle In Spiritual Warfare

Use These Powerful Sacramentals As Your Weapon For Battle In Spiritual Warfare

The truth is, though, we are still an incarnate people, made from dust and atoms and flesh both weak and redeemed by the One Whose flesh was pierced for us. When Jesus bent in the dirt at the feet of the deaf and mute man, He spat into dust and mixed mud in His palm, smearing the most base and ordinary elements into a miracle-working paste that was activated not by superstition or any kind of inherent qualities that dirt possessed, but by the nuclear reaction between His grace and the deaf man’s faith.

That, in a nutshell, is the power of sacramentals, which is a fancy theology word for the seemingly ordinary items we as Christians have access to in our lifelong battle with evil.

The faith of the Church imbues these ordinary elements (water, salt, crucifixes, icons, medals, etc.) with a blessing that is effective in its own right but is only fully realized when combined with personal faith and a rightly-ordered life. Holy water is not magic, any more than the rings I wear on my left hand, blessed and sanctified in the sacramental exchange of our wedding vows, are somehow sufficient to guarantee my fidelity to my marriage. I must cooperate with that inherent grace in the daily choices I make to honor those vows and serve that man. The rings are holy, but they can only strengthen what is already there.

That analogy is imperfect, but hopefully helpful enough to communicate the point? Which is this: the grace is all God’s giving, but He chooses, as He has chosen all along, to sanctify the ordinary and the earthly to communicate the extraordinary.

So, with that understanding, we have been making increasingly frequent use of sacramentals in our home, both to help incarnate the faith for our children and to arm us in the daily battle against Satan. Win/win.

Here are some of the heavy hitters:

Crucifixes

Maybe this is obvious (though I don’t think it occurred to me until a couple years into motherhood), but having a crucifix in every bedroom (and in the main living space and hey, why not the kitchen if you live there most of the day) is a powerful reminder to everyone who lives, works, and sleeps under your roof Whose house it really is. It’s also an effective nightmare-deterrent and a sweet focal point that our kids can look to and blow kisses, calling to mind Jesus’ love for them and His constant, unwavering presence in their lives.

No, the crucifix isn’t Jesus, but it is His image, lovingly depicted and prominently featured, like my embarrassing chubby baby cellphone wallpaper, reminding me where my heart is and Whom to keep the focus on throughout the day. Also, the devil hates crucifixes, particularly Benedictine crucifixes, hence their frequent role in the Church’s Rite of Exorcism.

Holy Water

Every parish should have (most do) a holy water font by each door, and a main baptismal font … somewhere (sacred architecture is a tricky business in the United States). Additionally, there is often a dispenser that, at least in my parish, resembles a stainless steel water cooler with a sign labeled “holy water.” That’s there for you to take home as much as you want, to keep in a font by your front door (we have a gorgeous one from Ireland – a closing gift from our wonderful realtor) or in those little plastic squeeze bottles also helpfully labelled. We keep holy water in our house at all times, and use it daily to bless our kids, each other, and their rooms and our house, particularly if anyone is sick or has had a bad dream, or after a big party or a ton of people have been in and out. You never know what has come into your home, and as parents, you have a particular spiritual authority to kick out anything wanting to do harm to your children.

Do I feel crazy blessing myself with water from a teeny plastic squirt bottle, tracing a cross on my daughter’s forehead at night as I tuck her into bed? Not any crazier than I feel rubbing essential oils into feverish feet or dispensing antibiotics for aching ears.

God gives us tangible relief and protection from physical ailments, lotions and ointments we can see and smell and touch, so why would He not equip us with analog spiritual remedies?

We dwell in a false dichotomy between the spiritual and the material world in this present age, but the God Who comes to us in a wafer of bread does not hesitate to confer sacramental grace through water. We’re weird about the ordinary-ness of it all. He’s not.

Blessed Salt

I’m sure my mom used this when we were growing up, and I’m sure I eyerolled her haaaaard when she’d whip a ziplock bag out of her purse and bless a hotel room or a rental car. But think of it as the more portable, rugged version of holy water. Good for blessing doorways and sprinkling along property lines as a barrier between your family and the world. Again, this is not magic. It is not some kind of potion that stops demons from crossing into your space like an X-wing hitting a deflector shield. It’s an act of faith claiming this ground, this room, this space for Christ.

As the Israelites smeared the blood of the passover lamb on their doorposts and the angel of death passed over their homes, we sprinkle blessed salt and consecrate the holy ground we’re raising our children on to God. Who did not spare the Israelite’s firstborn children for any other reason but for their faith and obedience. It was not magic blood. It was an outward expression of their faith, a public witness of their other-ness.

Medals

 

I have worn a Miraculous Medal for years. Though, there were a few in college where I let it fall by the wayside (let’s just say it wasn’t super consistent with the lifestyle I was living at the time, either…) but then in grad school, I picked it back up again. I’ve also worn a scapular from time to time, but can never seem to keep the habit up, (I think because I’m a highly sensitive person and the texture of it bothers me.)

Whichever you choose, both the miraculous medal and the brown scapular in particular are powerful devotionals to Our Lady, and the Church teaches that, worn with faith and in concordance with a life of virtue, carry powerful promises attached to them. Namely, that Mary will intercede for you particularly at the moment of your death. Since Jesus will not deny His beloved Mother anything she asks, I super want her on my team at the bottom of the ninth. Also, it’s a lot harder to do obviously sinful things, at least for me, when I’m rocking the gold chain. Again, not because it’s magic, but because the physical presence of it reminds me of the spiritual weight behind my thoughts and words.

I could go on, but these are the primary sacramental (note: small-s sacramental = tools for living daily sanctity. Big S-Sacramental pertains to properties or qualities belonging to the Church’s Seven Sacraments) weapons in my arsenal.

And finally, it’s always helpful to wield these weapons with the assistance of the ultimate angelic BA, St. Michael. Let’s finish up with his prayer in the original Latin, which is basically a spiritual mic drop :

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Source: Catholicnewsagency.com