Why I Love Our Crucifix

A little over four years ago, our parish moved into our new church building.  While I was impressed by the grandeur and scale of the building, and felt that they had done an excellent job of making a modern building feel special and holy, adding elements reflective of our parish’s Irish history, I confess that I wasn’t very impressed with the crucifix.

OK, to be honest, I didn’t like it at all.  Jesus’s feet were to big, his lips were pursed in an odd way, and the nails in his hands and feet were missing.  That bothered me the most.  I kept waiting for the artist to come and finish his masterpiece by finally nailing those hands and feet to the cross.

Then one day someone pointed out that Jesus needed figurative “big feet” to bear the burdens that he had to bear and to do the work that he had to do.  The big feet also serve as a reminder that it is now our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Christ.  And with all the people of the Church making up those hands and feet, his feet are big, indeed!

One Sunday our priest spoke in his homily about our crucifix.  He shared the fact that, shortly after coming to our parish, he spent several hours in prayerful reflection before the crucifix.  He came to know “our Jesus” as the Jesus of John’s crucifixion – a Jesus who had total and complete control of the situation.

But still, those nail-less hands and feet bugged me… until one day I realized that,, if you covered the cross behind him and added a cloak, this crucified Jesus would become a resurrected Jesus.  Thus, the artist has given us a visual reminder of the joy of the resurrection, even in the sorrow of the crucifixion.

Finally, not all that long ago, it dawned on me.  Jesus remained on that cross, not because nails held him in place, but because love bound him there.

And I fell in love with our crucifix.

 

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Stepping Out of Safety

 

It’s a Beautiful Day

I don’t know what sets it apart and makes my heart swell with gratitude, but the words that keep swimming in my head are simple:  “It’s a beautiful day.”

Is it because I went to bed at a reasonable hour, and turned my alarm off when it squawked at five a.m.?  I certainly do feel well rested.

Or is it because, while I didn’t wake up to write so very early, I did at least spend time in scripture before the day raced away?

Is it the result of not losing my cool when Bear threw a fit at breakfast?  It is definitely rewarding to prayerfully soldier through those moments, knowing that, for once, you are mothering like Mary would have mothered if her Son had ever actually behaved in such a manner.

Perhaps its because the washing machine is broken, so, while the laundry continues to pile up, it simply cannot be on my list of things to do this morning?

Maybe its because, having gone to bed early as well, the children woke cheerfully this morning?

Or maybe its due to the brightly shining sun, which I was blessed to witness in its rising, and which, despite the chilly 26 degree temperatures, gives the promise of warming through the day?

Regardless… I feel wrapped in God’s goodness, filled with His Spirit, ready to give Him glory and honor and praise.

It’s a beautiful day.

The Last Judgement

When the cardinals approached the box to cast their ballots for the next successor to Peter, they were faced with this painting:

Michelangelo’s fresco, The Last Judgement, depicts the damned being cast into hell on Christ’s lower left, while elsewhere the blessed are raised up to heaven.

When taking part in such a weighty task, it was certainly prudent that the cardinals should think about their own final judgement, and how the vote that they cast will establish them in the Kingdom of God.  Moreover, it was important that they consider how their votes will effect the final judgement of the 1.2 billion Catholic souls across the globe.

It occurs to me that we could all use a giant fresco of the Last Judgement in our lives.  This fresco would need to be a floating one, though, that would travel around with us throughout our days.  Or possibly one that magically appears each time we’re making a decision that could be crucial to our eternal well-being or that of another individual.

For instance, your driving down the street, kids strapped securely into their seats, when another driver rudely cuts you off.  You’re faced with a decision.  Do you pray for that person?  Or do you shout obscenities, ride their bumper, and lay on your horn?

Whoooosh!  Magic fresco.  Oh, yeah.  Pray.

Or, you see an old neighbor in a parking lot, driving her brand new Mercedes coupe.  After chatting for a few minutes about her new and luxurious home, she looks at your car and says, “Oh, wow.  You’re still driving that old thing?”  Do you calmly smile and tell her that you are blessed to have a car at all?  Or do you tell her that she is a pretentious, money-grabbing so-and-so?

Whoopaw!  Magic fresco.  Uh huh.  Calm smile.

Of course, there are the moments with the children, when you can react with love or with anger.

And there are those many moments with the hubby, when you can call to mind Proverbs 31, or respond as the world seems to teach.

Occassionaly in our lives we are faced with big, weighty decisions.  Probably never anything as big as what the cardinals faced these last two days, but big nonetheless.  A new job, education for our children, a new home, etc.  We usually remember to pray for guidance in these things.

But our final judgement will be less a product of those big, momentous choices, and more the result of the little choices we make every day.

And so, I’d like to have a magic, floating fresco.

Perhaps there’s an app for that?

Viva il Papa!

This is the first papal conclave that I’ve really watched.  The election of Benedict XVI occurred so soon after my confirmation into the Church, that it all still seemed very foreign and strange to me… while I knew that it was important, it wasn’t personal yet.

And so I was completely unprepared for the emotions that gripped me today.  Along with Catholics around the world, I’ve been praying for the conclave ever since Pope Emeritus Benedict announced his resignation.  I’ve been waiting anxiously to find out who the new pope would be.  Yet, I never thought…

I never thought I’d sob into a tissue as I saw the replay of white smoke.

Never thought I’d laugh with joy to see the faithful packed into St. Peters Square.

Never thought I’d miss getting my kids from the bus stop but yell to them from a block away, “Hurry!  Hurry!  We have a new pope!  Habemus Papam!”

Never thought I’d spend two hours sitting on the couch, glued to the TV, waiting expectantly to see the face of a man who, up until now, was a complete stranger to me.

And yet I did.  And I am So. Proud. to be. CATHOLIC.

May God Bless Pope Francis.