Friday, October 23, 2009
The Cross is the Center of Our Faith
The Cross has been a very important symbol to Catholics from the earliest centuries. It is a sign of God's love and the paradox of life: the instrument used in capital punishment for the worst criminals in Roman society, sign of humiliation and ignominy becomes for us a sign of love and glory.
We sign ourselves with the sign of the cross before prayer, it makes known to us that we belong to Jesus, it reminds us of our baptism where we are signed many times with the cross. There are some differences in the understanding of the cross according to the cultures but for the most part, a profession of faith and a prayer for blessing.
Tertulian who died in A.D.220, is quoted saying: " In all our actions, when we wash, at our meals, before sleep, we make on our forehead the Sign of the Cross.These practices are not commended to us by a formal law of Scripture, but tradition teaches them, custom confirms them, and faith observes them. "
In the Eastern Church they cross themselves from right to left, the way the Western Church did until the 14 th century when we in the West went from left to right. A very small matter but considered important at the time of the Schism.
One of the Korean Priests from Taegu, collects crosses from all over the world as a hobby and has a collection of over 340. The Catholic Times has a brief article on the exhibition he recently had in his parish, a display of about 200 hundred of the crosses that he has collected over his priestly life. They come from all parts of the world. He says: " in his priestly life the Cross is everything, a profession of faith, and his future. I feel that God has not given this interest that I have as some thing private but wants it to be used, so that many will relish the meaning of the cross."
The priest feels that the Eastern Church with its iconography has developed a deeper spiritually surrounding the Cross. The Protestant Churches as a rule do not have the figure of Jesus on the Cross but some words of Scripture which give another quite different meaning to the Cross.