Featured Art: “Redemption” by Called1-for-Jesus on DeviantArt. © 2013-2020.
This year, Easter celebrations and the Paschal season are being “welcomed” in a remarkably different way: millions of people practicing social distancing, bathing and washing their hands regularly—and while many of us are staying home for longer periods of time—we are all connected by that great, invisible network that is the World Wide Web (Internet).
I do have to say one thing though: despite the convenience livestreaming/digitally recording church services brings to all of us honoring the stay-in-place policies mandated by our state governments—there is indeed a “God-shaped” hole in the hearts of the Faithful who long to experience the Mass in person. In other words, for the world’s billion Catholics and the over 260 million Orthodox Christians, many of us are prohibited from receiving the Holy Eucharist and being in His literal presence in churches everywhere.
Due to the—you guessed it—spread of COVID-19.
Despite the Easter-related messages and letters I have received in my inbox stating that this pandemic too shall pass—nevertheless, my mind, heart and soul doesn’t feel at peace about the situation this planet is literally in at this very moment (and will be for at least another year, many experts are now advising the public).
The only way I feel truly at peace, I find, is when I attend the Mass and stare longingly at Christ on the cross (crucifix)—His eyes and face contorted, full of utter pain and sorrow, and yet…there is something else too.
To be honest, I feel as though the world’s Catholic and Orthodox Christians are more spiritually inclined than most Protestants I know (especially of the “Evangelical,” “Baptist,” “non-denominational,” and “Pentecostal” types).
(More on this later…perhaps even in a future article.) 😉
But I have yet to see a fellow “fundamentalist” Protestant not be humbled by such realistic and gruesome imagery as the sculptures and stained glass windows created by the hands of devout Catholics.
That goes double for the atheists and agnostics out there. You know who y’all are. 😜
Therefore, in my very long and continuously winding journey towards the Roman Catholic Church (again, for those who don’t know, I’m converting over from my childhood-reared Pentecostalism)…I can only now understand why the Crucifix is such a powerful statement to certain Christians, more so than others.
A close Protestant friend of mine once asked me whether Catholics believe in the Resurrection. We were teenagers, and she had just accompanied me to Mass. I realized how striking and maybe even disturbing it might have been to her to be confronted with the gigantic, realistic crucifix up front, which I was so used to I hadn’t even thought to forewarn her of. I think she wondered how, if we believe in Christ’s Resurrection, we could be putting so much emphasis on the disturbing image of His dead body.
Later, when it began to dawn on me what the crucifix meant, there was a period of months in my life where I found it almost too hard to look at one directly. Even now, on a bad day, it can be hard. Christ is just so exposed, so vulnerable, and I don’t like to be reminded that “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. (Jn 12:26).” And where He is is exactly where I don’t want to be. I want to be His servant, sure, but I don’t want to go all the way to the Cross. But, of course, there can be no resurrection without death first. It’s no good hoping for one without the other.~ Anna O’Neil, When the crucifix makes you want to look away, remember this old writer’s rule (2016)
In other words, we cannot and should not be thanking and praising Jesus as THE Lord and Saviour of all if He never took the punishment that we lowly sinners deserved—as evidenced time and time again in the Tanakh (Old Testament).
This is why, in the Western world, Catholics are often associated as being the “people of the Cross (Crucifix).”
But at the same time, Protestants shouldn’t be hogging the Resurrection story and the Empty Tomb either—personally speaking as someone growing up with a devout, fanatical Pentecostal convert (originally from Taiwanese Buddhism) of a mother.
Being a Christian isn’t just about showing up at church, reading the Bible together, singing a few songs, say some prayers, watch some VeggieTales™ or Superbook™ …and then see ya next week.
It’s so much more than that.
Because the truth of the matter is: you ought to be as passionately filled with the love and devotion of and to Christ (and finding His Real Presence in the Eucharist) as much as Pastor Francis Chan here:
So, in the midst of this time of anxiety, depression and great suffering, may we always remember that Christ is King, keep one another in service and in devoted prayer; and to quote Blessed Saint Pope John John II here:
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
God bless us, everyone! 😇