Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Crucifix

"Sacramentals are given to us by the Church, unlike Sacraments which are instituted by Christ. They help to draw us closer to Christ because with prayer and with the proper intention, the rosary, the sign of the cross, the crucifix, medals, pictures, holy water and the many other beautiful sacramentals, help us to focus on that which is holy and to make holy the different occasions of our lives.  Although we do not need them for Salvation, sacramentals draw us into deeper devotion and prayer." Amazing Graces
In our homes, in our cars, in our churches, in our daily view, what do we see and how does what we see effect our lives?  What do our children, our friends, our neighbors see that we find is important to be a part of our lives? Is our yard perfectly manicured and our car sparkling clean and our family beautifully dressed? Does the family portrait hang in a prominent place in our living room? Do visitors love looking at all the family pictures on the wall? Friends love to look at our picutres when they come into our house and we have long discussions about where they were taken and what year and who all the other people are surrounding our children. They are reminders of receiving the Sacraments and participating in sports and attending weddings. They are images that bring to mind the great times we have had with one another and those in our community and our family.  Nearby hangs a crucifix, a reminder of one Man's love for all people. What does this image bring to our minds? What is the discussion? Is there discussion? Does it hang there because it is a tradition to have the crucifix hang in our homes or is it there to prompt discussion, to be a reminder of something good? Honestly, do I pay attention to that beautiful reminder that is in our kitchen and in the bedrooms and in my office? If I did, might I hear, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe," and have reassurance everyday that there is so much more?
I have a friend who shared that she removes the crucifix from her children's wall every morning and lays it on their pillow so that every night they have to touch Jesus on the crucifix before they climb into bed. Reassurance that He is real, that He is with them, that He loves them unconditionally. I love that and it truly made me wonder if we pay any attention whatsoever to the crucifixes in our home. As we know, just hanging it in the house doesn't mean much if it does not in some way help us to focus a little more on what is holy, if it does not draw us into prayer, if it does not make our visitors realize and maybe even talk about our commitment. 

I visited Holy Family Church yesterday and saw my friend Catherine who was gracious enough to share her story of the Crucifix in my book Amazing Graces. She was busy in the church with hundreds of small children and many young adults gathered during Vacation Bible School, beneath the beautiful crucifix, to sing about God's goodness and mercy and love.  He was looking down upon them and all anyone who stood there could think is "How Great is Jesus!" These children were all gathered singing His praises and His arms were stretched out embracing each and every one. Truly brought focus on the holy, on prayer in song and on our commitment to Him in our lives.

Together let's try to put this sacramental to use on a more personal level, to make it more than just a decoration, to truly (if only in our minds) touch His side and see His hands and His feet and believe, every minute of every day and to recommit ourselves to His great gift of Love.

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