Why do Catholics wear crucifixes and most other Christians wear just plain crosses?

th[11] If you have ever watched movies about vampires, demons and devils, you may have seen that a crucifix was used to ward them off. The assumption was that the power of the cross destroys the power of evil. Well, the death of Jesus on the cross does just that — it enables believers to overcome sin. No wonder the demons run!

Easter Sunday is almost here, when we celebrate the resurrection of our “Lord and Savior” Jesus Christ. All of us as Christians, particularly during Easter, rejoice in the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. We see crosses in churches, on walls, and as jewelry. Some have an empty cross; some have the body (Corpus) of Jesus on them. The latter are called crucifixes.

Many Christian denominations place emphasis on Christ’s resurrection, so they tend to wear and display plain crosses. They say things like, “Christ is no longer on the Cross,” so that explains why they prefer simple crosses rather than the Crucifix. They suggest that because Catholics often depict Jesus on the cross it means that we believe he has not risen. This is, of course, nonsense. Catholics are adamant about the Resurrection of Christ. There is nothing wrong with wearing an “empty cross,” but Catholics ordinarily prefer crucifixes because it reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice, and of how we must continue to pray that the graces won by that sacrifice will be applied to us and bring us eventually to heaven.

Jesus says, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).” Jesus image on the Cross, displays Jesus’ unconditional and endless love and His infinite mercy He has for all of us. Jesus also says we cannot be His follower (a Christian) unless we pick up our cross to follow Him (Matthew 16.24). Jesus never promised His followers a Christian life free from sufferings and trials. He promised us the very opposite. He promised that we too would have a cross to carry; and unless we endure our sufferings and trials in faith for Him as He has done for us, we cannot be His follower. In says in first Peter 2:21, “Christ suffered for you and left you an example, to have you follow in his footsteps.”

Some Christians might think that Catholics downplay Jesus’ Resurrection by putting too much emphasis on Jesus’ Crucifixion. This might imply that Catholics reject the risen Christ and worship the “dead” Christ. We as Catholics worship both the Jesus who died for our sins and also the Jesus who rose from His sacrificial death for our sins. At Mass Catholics profess, “Jesus has died, JESUS IS RISEN, Jesus will come again.” In our Christian journey on the way Home to the Lord, we, like Jesus, carry our cross. So, we as Catholics not only preach Christ Risen, but also Christ Crucified.

The heart of the Gospel message is Jesus, our promised Messiah, died for our sins for the salvation of our soul. St. Paul preached Jesus’ Crucified and tells us, “WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED, a stumbling block to Jews, and folly to Gentiles, but those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1Corinthians 1:23-24).” He again says, “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1Corinthians 2:1-2).” True, our Christian faith is in vain without the Resurrection of Jesus (1Corinthians 15:17), but it was the CRUCIFIXION of Jesus that paid for our sins. We cannot preach Jesus’ Resurrection without also preaching Jesus’ Crucifixion. For the Resurrection to have happened, it had to begin with the Crucifixion. How can we worship the risen Jesus without also worshipping the Jesus who died for our sins? Until next time, God bless.

4 thoughts on “Why do Catholics wear crucifixes and most other Christians wear just plain crosses?

  1. Carefully and persuasively explained. As a Protestant, I am encouraged that Catholics embrace the doctrine of resurrection as well as the crucifixion. Both are necessary tenets of our faith, as you have made clear.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog, From the Inside Out. I’m honored you “liked” The Glory of the Cross.

  2. Very well explained. As a protestant I’ve wanted to wear a crucifix cross, but don’t dare because of the backlash it would give me. We both believe that Jesus sacrificed His life so we could have eternal life, and it was the ultimate price paid. I’ve read about what He suffered…I’ve viewed the Passion of the Christ. It was horrific what He went through for us. I think about it often and it makes me all the more thankful for what He suffered for us sinners.

    • Sorry to say, but it is that “backlash” attitude that keeps people from being able to see what the Catholic Church actually teaches and believes on not just this topic, but many others. Thanks for the comment Sarah and may God bless you.

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