The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

My Photo
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Where's the Crucifix?

I've had a continuous struggle with our RCIA director to get a crucifix in our class room. We had one at one time, but one day it mysteriously disappeared. It's always bothered me that we want to teach new folks coming into the faith without the presence of our most important symbol. So a couple of weeks ago I scrounged around the parish center and made an alarming discovery; there are no crucifixes in our parish center. We have one cross in one classroom that is an art-deco rendition of a risen Christ on the cross, but no crucifix.

The investigation continued. I went over to the school gym where we have our coffee and doughnuts. Again, no crucifix. If you walk into the front doors of our church you will not see a crucifix hanging over the alter, but rather a gnostic rendition of the risen Christ floating amidst a cobbled together cross. I say cobbled as our pastor literally dismantled a bookshelf and used the flat boards to make a cross. The risen Christ image used to be stand-alone.

There is one crucifix in our church, but it is hidden in an alocove off the sanctuary above where the chior sings, and one must sit in the annex portion of the church to be able to see it. We also do use a crucifix to to process into the church for mass on Sunday, but it is barely visible and has a broken arm that occasionally has be glued back into place.

Why are we afraid to look upon Christ on the cross? Perhaps we just don't understand the sacrifice. Last year I came across this beautiful story. I don't know who the author is, but I believe the story talks about the value of self-sacrifice for the benefit of all.

A Chinese Legend

Once upon a time, in the heart of the Western Kingdom, lay a beautiful garden. And there in the cool of the day was the Master of the garden wont to walk. Of all the denizens of the garden, the most beautiful and most beloved was a gracious and noble bamboo.

Year after year, Bamboo grew yet more noble and gracious, conscious of his Master’s love and watchful delight, but modest and gentle withal. And often, when Wind came to revel in the garden, Bamboo would cast aside his grave stateliness to dance and play right merrily, tossing and swaying and leaping and bowing in joyous abandon, leading the Great Dance of the Garden which most delighted his Master’s heart.

Now upon a day, the Master himself drew near to contemplate his Bamboo with eyes of curious expectancy. And Bamboo in a passion of adoration, bowed his great head to the ground in loving greeting. The master spoke:

“Bamboo, Bamboo, I would use thee.”

Bamboo flung his head to the sky in utter delight. The day of days had come; the day for which he had been made; the day to which he had been growing hour by hour; the day in which he would find his completion and his destiny. His voice came low:

“Master, I am ready. Use me as thou wilt.”

“Bamboo”- the Master’s voice was grave – “I would fain take thee and – cut thee down”

A trembling great horror shook Bamboo.

“Cut…me…down! Me…whom thou, Master, hast made the most beautiful in thy garden…to cut me down! Ah, not that, not that! Use me for thy joy, O Master, but cut me not down!”

Beloved Bamboo” – the Master’s voice grew graver still – “if I cut thee not down, I cannot use thee.”

The garden grew still. Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent his proud and glorious head. There came a whisper:

“Master if thou canst not use me but thou cut me down…then do thy will and cut.

“Bamboo, beloved Bamboo, I would…cut thy leaves and branches from thee also.”

“Master, Master, spare me. Cut me down and lay my beauty in the dust, but wouldst thou take from me my leaves and branches also?”

“Bamboo, alas, if I them not cut away, I cannot use thee.”

The sun hid his face. A listening butterfly glided fearfully away. And Bamboo shivered in terrible expectancy, whispering low.

“Master, cut away.”

“Bamboo, Bamboo, I would yet…cleave thee in twain and cut out thine heart, for if I cut not so, I cannot use thee”

Then was Bamboo bowed to the ground.

“Master, Master…then cut and cleave.”

So did the Master of the Garden take Bamboo and cut him down and hack off his branches and strip off his leaves and cleave him in twin and cut out his heart. And lifting him gently, carried him to where was a spring of fresh, sparkling water in the midst of dry fields. Then putting one end of broken Bamboo into the spring and the other end into the water channel in his field, the Master laid down gently his beloved Bamboo.

And the spring sang welcome and the clear sparkling waters raced joyously down the channel of Bamboo’s torn body into the waiting fields. Then the rice was planted, and the days went by, and the shoots grew and the harvest came.

In that day was Bamboo, once so glorious in his stately beauty, yet more glorious in his brokenness and humility. For in his beauty he was life abundant, but in his brokenness he became a channel of abundant life to his Master’s world.

So you see my liberal-kumbaya-Catholic brethren. The crucifix is something we should gaze upon and draw strength for the sacrifice that was made on our behalf. To hide it, means to not appreciate this God-given image of salvation.


Post a Comment

<< Home