It’s very sad news that the British government wishes to argue before the European Court of Human Rights that Christians should not have the freedom to wear crosses at work. Will the same government also ask for a restriction of other religious symbols like the turban and the hijab? Even the Archbishop of Canterbury, surprised most people by saying that today the cross has become mere religious decoration that is worn as jewellery.
Everyday for Life Canada
fully supports religious freedom, but shouldn’t that freedom begin in our own nation and with Christianity? True religious freedom is more than just the freedom to worship. Why are Christian countries so ready to undermine their own Judeo-Christian roots, but are prepared to make accommodation for other religions? Recently we received an email from a public school secretary who finds it difficult to wear a cross and to display the Rosary at work. Why should this person be afraid to express her faith in public?
This talk of the cross reminded me of a simple work of art with the image of several blue crosses on a black background. We have posted it with this blog entry. It’s the work of Andy Warhol, the artist who popularized modern Pop Art. The illustrated piece of crosses can be found in the Andy Warhol in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, USA. Warhol after nearly being killed from gunshot wounds spent time in his artistic efforts thinking and interpreting for the contemporary audience two important Christian symbols: the cross and the Last Supper.
The Lenten period is a particularly appropriate time to reflect on the image and meaning of the cross. It’s especially during Lent that we pray the Stations of the Cross. It’s the cross that reminds us of Christ’s passion, death and His resurrection. What happened on the cross is the reason we pray the Rosary. It was on a cross that Christ destroyed death and sin. It’s a symbol of sacrifice, of divine love and of everlasting life. Just think of how many crosses are found in our churches and public spaces. The cross also points out that we all have crosses in our lives. Let’s hope and pray that we have the courage to carry one or two of them and follow Christ during Lent in our personal journey to Easter.
We can look at the meaning of the cross as a symbol. It’s been seen as reminder of the two greatest Commandments: the horizontal arm urges us to love our neighbour and the vertical one is to love God with our whole heart, mind and soul. The foot of the cross implanted firmly in the earth has been viewed as the basis for faith. The top part of the cross can signify human hope going up to heaven while the crossbeam represents love that conquers all. At the intersection of the cross is where heaven and earth and hell meet. The cross is even referred to as an umbilical cord because God uses it to communicate and spiritually nourish humanity. But the most important thing is what does it mean to you and what does it call us to do with our lives?
In the March 2012 edition of the Magnificat, Fr. Peter Cameron writes about St. John Chrysostom’s four “paths of repentance.” Here they are for our Lenten journey. A) “Be the first to admit your sins and you will be justified.” B) “Put out of our minds the harm done us by our enemies in order to master our anger, and to forgive our fellow servants’ sins against us.” C) “The third path consists of prayer that is fervent, careful, and comes from the heart.”D) “A fourth path is almsgiving, whose power is great and far-reaching.”
The cross has four ends. May each end remind us to follow these four paths in our Lenten journey to personal holiness, to care for others and to greater love of Christ. This is what’s at the heart of Pope Benedict’s Lenten message for 2012. And let’s never be afraid to display the cross in public and more importantly to live what it signifies.