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Why a crucifix and not an empty cross?

Curcifix

Why do Catholics wear and Catholic Churches display a crucifix, instead of an empty cross? Why do we leave Jesus on the cross? Does this mean we worship a “dead” Jesus, and that we downplay the resurrected Jesus?

Not at all.

Catholics worship both the Jesus who died for their sins and the Jesus who rose from His sacrificial death for their sins. We believe that “Christ has died, Christ is RISEN, Christ will come again.”

Jesus says, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus displayed on the Cross displays His unconditional love and infinite mercy for us. Everything Jesus gives to us is through the Cross. In our Christian journey, we, like Jesus, carry our cross. Catholics not only preach Christ Risen, but also Christ Crucified.

The heart of the Gospel message is Jesus, our promised Messiah, died for our sins for the salvation of our soul. St. Paul preached Jesus’ Crucified and tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:23, “. . . but we preach Christ crucified . . . ” But Jesus is risen, what is Paul speaking about? Doesn’t he know that we should not be concentrating on Jesus’ death? Again, in Corinthians 2:2 Paul writes, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Here St. Paul says Jesus is our example in enduring the Cross.

Some have expressed distaste at the thought of depicting Jesus at his most vulnerable. Guess what? This should make you uncomfortable. Jesus does not want us to look at His Crucifixion as only a past event. Every lash that he took, every blow that drove the nail into his hands was caused by you and me. Our sins – past, present and future, hung Jesus on that cross. The crucifix is the ultimate expression of the lengths that a loving God will go to reach us. Gazing at a crucifix is a truly humbling experience.

If you really think about it, the next time someone questions you for wearing a crucifix, and not an empty cross, (if you want to get nit-picky) Jesus rose from the tomb, not the cross. In order to represent his victory over death (which is what some claim the empty cross does) one would have to wear a little copy of the tomb or a tiny rock.

Think about when Jesus appeared to the apostles after His Resurrection and in His glorified risen Body. He showed them His wounds from His Crucifixion. (Luke 24:39-40 & John 20:20) Why would Jesus keep those wounds from His Crucifixion if He did not want us to remember His Crucifixion?

Although Jesus is no longer on the Cross, His offering Himself to us as our Savior continues to this day. Jesus says we cannot be His follower (a Christian) unless we pick up our cross to follow Him. (Matthew 16.24) Jesus never promised His followers a Christian life free from sufferings and trials. He promised us the very opposite. He promised that we too would have a cross to carry; and unless we endure our sufferings and trials in faith for Him as He has done for us, we cannot be His follower. We cannot rise in Christ to new life without first dying with Christ on the Cross.

Whether you wear an empty cross, or a crucifix, the cross displays the love our savior, Jesus Christ, has for all of us. I hope this short explanation helps others understand why Catholics love the crucifix so dearly.

So please remember to display your beautiful crucifixes in your home, and wear them humbly around your neck. (Remember to get them blessed!) And remember, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

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Do Catholics worship statues?

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Do Catholics worship statues or images?

No.

Catholics use statues, paintings, and other artistic devices to recall the person or thing depicted. Just as it helps to remember one’s mother by looking at her photograph, so it helps to recall the example of the saints by looking at pictures or statues of them.

Catholics also use statues as teaching tools. In the early Church they were especially useful for the instruction of the illiterate. Many Protestants have pictures of Jesus and other Bible pictures in Sunday school for teaching certain people and have three-dimensional nativity scenes at Christmas.

God forbids the worship of images as gods, but he doesn’t ban the making of images. If he had, religious movies, videos, photographs, paintings, and all similar things would be banned. It is when people begin to adore a statue as a god that the Lord becomes angry. Thus when people did start to worship the bronze serpent as a snake-god (whom they named “Nehushtan”), the righteous king Hezekiah had it destroyed (2 Kgs. 18:4).

Think about Mt. Rushmore, the Lincoln Memorial, the 911 Memorial in New York, and all the statues in Washington D.C. and around the world. People go to see these statues and stand in front of them, sometimes bow their heads in prayer, or stand their staring at the statue or piece of marble in awe. Does this mean these people are worshiping these statues? Absolutely not.

Since many Catholics sometimes bow or kneel in front of statues of Jesus and the saints, many non-Catholics confuse the legitimate veneration of a sacred image with the sin of idolatry. Catholics do not believe their statues, made of plaster, are God. A statue, or any other piece of religious art, is intended to draw the soul deeper into prayer by helping the senses to recall the mystery that it represents. Crucifixes, a statue of Mary or stain glass windows help for a soul to meditate and contemplate the great mysteries of God.

Though bowing can be used as a posture in worship, not all bowing is worship. In Japan, people show respect by bowing in greeting (the equivalent of the Western handshake). Similarly, a person can kneel before a king without worshiping him as a god. In the same way, a Catholic who may kneel in front of a statue while praying isn’t worshiping the statue or even praying to it, any more than the Protestant who kneels with a Bible in his hands when praying is worshiping the Bible or praying to it.

The bottom line is, when God made the New Covenant with us, he did reveal himself under a visible form in Jesus Christ. For that reason, we can make representations of God in Christ. Even Protestants use all sorts of religious images: Pictures of Jesus and other biblical persons appear on a myriad of Bibles, picture books, T-shirts, jewelry, bumper stickers, greeting cards, compact discs, and manger scenes. Christ is even symbolically represented through the Icthus or “fish emblem.”

Common sense tells us that, since God has revealed himself in various images, most especially in the incarnate Jesus Christ, it’s not wrong for us to use images of these forms to deepen our knowledge and love of God. That’s why God revealed himself in these visible forms, and that’s why statues and pictures are made of them.

The Church absolutely recognizes and condemns the sin of idolatry. What non-Catholics fail to recognize is the distinction between thinking a piece of stone or plaster is a god and desiring to visually remember Christ and the saints(who are alive in heaven, not dead) by making statues in their honor.

The making and use of religious statues is a thoroughly biblical practice, and a beautiful way to deepen your faith and grow closer to Christ.

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Mary our Queen

Mary Queen of Peace

Mary is referred to as queen not just of heaven, but also of peace, of the angels, of all Christians, among many other things.

Because Mary is the mother of Christ the King, it is logical that she would be called Queen. (A modern example would be the mother of Queen Elizabeth II of England, who was known as the Queen Mother.)

Pope Pius XII affirmed this in his encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam when he wrote, “according to ancient tradition and the sacred liturgy the main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without doubt her Divine Motherhood.” St. Alphonsus Ligouri, said, “Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of ‘Queen.’”

Mary played such an important role in bringing Christ the Redeemer into the world. Certainly, only Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the Jesus, is given the title of Queen , not meaning she is on equal footing with God, but reflects instead how intimately connected she was, and is, to her son and his mission.

Dear Mary, Queen of Heaven, pray for us.

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Spread love everywhere you go . . .

mother-teressa

Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor… Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting. (Saint Teresa of Calcutta)

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Morning Prayer

Mary and baby Jesus so sweet

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I will begin this day.

I thank you, Lord, for having preserved me during the night. I will do my best to make all I do today pleasing to You and in accordance with Your will. My dear mother Mary, watch over me this day. My Guardian Angel, take care of me. St. Joseph and all you saints of God, pray for me.

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.

I wish to gain all the indulgences attached to the prayers I shall say and the good works I shall perform this day. Amen.