Monday, 23 November 2009

The Crucifix and its removal

The Most Holy Cross and, more specifically, the Crucifix, are a Christian’s most beautiful and noble symbol of the Faith. They depict, in graphic terms, the most perfect Word of God to us, who expresses Himself best in silence, and accomplishes best when immobile. I believe that the Cross or, better, the Crucifix, is the best school of Faith.

There was a time when the Most Holy Cross/Crucifix was shown everywhere. And yet, the world was still a depressing and highly dangerous place, as some maintain it is today. We had, and still have, the Cross flaunted in our courtrooms, and yet judges and chief-judges were bribed, and people still bear false witness. We had, and still have, the Cross flaunted in our homes, and yet people still commit adultery, swear, mistreat their wives, husbands and children. We had, and still have, the Cross flaunted in our streets, and yet people still abuse each other. So on and so forth. My point is that it is not flaunting the Cross that is a true sign of Faith, but gratitude to God’s love expressed in charity.

Very often, in the past the Most Holy Cross was used not as a sign of spirituality, but as a foretoken of a religious institution; not as witness to Faith, but as a sign of power and domination; not as assurance of service and love, but as an imposition of authority and compliance. People have murdered in the name of the Most Holy Cross. Unfortunately, that is how some people still see it today: as a political emblem.

Of course, the Most Holy Cross is still used as an institutional badge by Christians who do not consider spirituality to be good enough on its own, but who also insist that it should be translated into a religion. They transmute an intimate relationship into an institutional tool, and thus confuse one with the other, even in social and political terms.

The Most Holy Cross testifies God’s universal and uncompromising love and respect. I understand ‘uncompromising’ to mean hundred percent in each case, and ‘universal’ to mean unlimited by human conventions, distinctions, designations, frontiers or any other separation of any kind, be it religious, political, economical, etc. I understand this to mean that the Cross itself does not allow disrespect or separations, and as such must not be used in any public place where its presence can suggest as much. Therefore, its unnecessary presence is implied in itself. If a teacher in a public school or a judge in a public courtroom holds the Cross to signify his or her personal spirituality (and that is surely good and noble), it does not follow that the Cross needs to be flaunted for all, irrespective of their beliefs or convictions. The spirituality of the Cross can (and, I think, should) be expressed in the values that it represents, and this on a personal level, but not necessarily as an imposition (which the very concept of the Cross refutes).

My whole point is that who really believes in the Most Holy Cross (not as a political tool, but as a sign of a personal relationship) does not fear its being removed from public places. On the contrary, so that its personal and intimate signification will be better appreciated, and its abuse as an institutional weapon will be the more evaded and desisted, such a person should be pleased by the removal. To put it in other (perhaps more polemical) words, all Christians should be more, though of course not only, content with the spread of Jesus’ spirituality and values than by the consolidation of its institutionalization, which always tends to obliterate the former.

This may indeed be a depressing and highly dangerous world, but not because the Most Holy Cross is being removed from public places, but because it has been long removed from people’s hearts, Christians or Catholics none the less, as a personal and intimate relationship, and replaced with a meaning that retains solely political and institutional significance.

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