Imagine if a logo designer was commissioned to come up with a new symbol for Christianity other than the cross. It’s highly likely that in order to make our religion attractive and appealing, the new logo would be smart, unique, and would speak to the benefits of our faith for those who would consider it. From a worldly perspective, Christianity’s symbol of the cross is too brutal, too dated. If the primary logo of our religion is an instrument of torture, few will be attracted to it—or so it seems.
Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, previously known as the “Triumph of the Cross.” The purpose of this feast suggests that rather than being embarrassed by the cross or daring to suggest an alternative logo, we should do the exact opposite. It encourages us to celebrate the sign of the cross as a symbol of victory over everything wrong in our world. It is necessarily held up before us as a reminder of the extent of God’s love—a love willing to suffer in order to rescue us from our dysfunction.
It is worth noting that the first Christians hesitated to use the symbol of the cross as the logo for their new religion, and for good reason too. For people in Roman-occupied territories, the predominant meaning of the cross was terror and dread, for it was the instrument of “unsurpassable punishment,” in the words of Cicero. The cross was a symbol of Roman power and domination that sent out a chilling warning to all who would dare oppose it—this would be their fate should they rebel.