The Most Powerful Symbol

November 22, 2006 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Bible, Catholics, Christ, Cross, Holy Cross, Holy Tradition, Magisterium, Sacred Tradition | Leave a comment

The Beauty Of The Cross

Did the Cross have any lesson to teach me? I wondered today, 22 November 2006. Was there more than what I already knew, that the Roman Catholic Church has the most dramatic, most symbolic and most powerful symbol of faith of all religions or churches in the world: The Cross? Now I know better, as Henry E Dosker tells me in this excerpt (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 2006, bible-history.com/):

Cross. No word in human language has become more universally known than this word, and that because all of the history of the world since the death of Christ has been measured by the distance which separates events from it. The symbol and principal content of the Christian religion and of Christian civilization is found in this one word.

How can many Christian churches of the world ignore the Cross? They ignore it at their own risk.

Religious or not, the Cross is found all over the world all over the place. The cross can be traced back to the times of the Romans when free-standing crosses as monuments were used to commemorate victories in battles. It was the Roman Emperor Constantine who introduced the cross as the symbol for Christ’s victory over death (TJH 2006, claddaghstore.com/).

A most symbolic variety is the Huguenot Cross, which is in the form of a Maltese cross, that is, 4 isosceles triangles meeting at the center, with each triangle having 2 rounded points at the corners to make 8. The 8 signify the 8 Beatitudes in Matthew 5: 3-10. From the lowest triangle hangs a dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit (Huguenot Society of South Africa, geocities.com/hugenotblad/).

Probably the best known award in Canada is the Victoria Cross, instituted by Queen Victoria in 1856, ‘for most conspicuous bravery or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy’ (Veterans Affairs Canada, 2003, vac.acc.gc.ca/). In Germany, the most famous award recognizing valor was the Iron Cross, instituted by King Frederick William III of Prussia who was at war against Napoleon of France (German U-Boat, 2006, uboataces.com/).

The Greek Cross, also called the St George Cross, is the logotype adopted by the Red Cross established as an international organization in 1863 at the Geneva Convention; it is also seen on the flags of Greece and Switzerland (symbols.com/).

Christianity has been recognized as the ‘religion of the Cross’ as some of the great monuments of Western civilization have been representations of the torture and murder of Christ on the Cross (Richard Viladesau, 2005, oup.com/us/). Viladesau’s book is in fact titled The Beauty Of The Cross, published by Oxford University). Beauty in suffering and death? I quote from the same source:

Despite the horror of the Crucifixion, we often find (the image) beautiful. The beauty of the Cross expresses the central paradox of Christian faith: the Cross of Christ’s execution is the symbol of God’s victory over death and sin. The Cross as an aesthetic object and as a means of devotion corresponds to the mystery of God’s wisdom and power manifest in suffering and apparent failure.

The Holy Cross, says Rev Fr Charles Joanides (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 2006, goarch.org/), is by Holy Tradition ‘transformative in nature and can make a difference in your life.’ Once we understand the story behind Christ’s Cross:

We develop a personal relationship with God which changes the way we see the world around us. Moreover, the blessed message behind this story not only has a direct, positive, transformative impact on us; it also has a blessed impact on our marriages, families and our efforts to parent our children.

In the Magisterium of Pope John Paul II, the Way of the Cross is very dear to his heart, rooted in his family tradition and in the pastoral life of the Church in his native country, Poland (Piero Marini, 2003, vatican.va/news_services/). In the Opening Prayer of the 2003 Way of the Cross, the Holy Father says:

With us too is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She stood on the hill of Golgotha as the Mother of the dying Son, as the Disciple of the Teacher of truth, as the new Eve standing beneath the tree of life, as the woman of sorrow, the companion of the ‘man of sorrows, acquainted with grief’ (Isaiah 53: 3), the Daughter of Adam, Our Sister, the Queen of Peace. As the Mother of Mercy, she bends over her children who still face dangers and exhaustion, to see their sufferings, to hear the cry arising from their afflictions, to bring them comfort and to renew their hope of peace.

Ultimately, the Holy Cross is the symbol of Peace.

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