Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Catholic Defender: The Crucifix, object of love

Love is a word that many people use for many different things. You might hear something like, "I love my new car", or "I love my new house".

People can even 'love' to hate. You ask the question, "what do you mean by that"?

Well, how can you love someone when you purposely misrepresent them?

How can you love someone when you do not respect them?

On Youtube, there are some of the most vile hate filled attacks of the Catholic Faith taking statues of Saints and destroying them.  Like they are conquering the enemy? From where does this begin, where do we begin to explain it.

It's rather absurd that anyone would think we worship objects such as a statue but that is what they tell people. For such a person who thinks that, there is not much to say to them because they have blind rage and are dishonest, they are not going to quit when they hear the truth.

Consider the following:

In looking at the crucifix, consider meditating on the suffering of Jesus. The crowning of thorns and the wounds on his head reflects the suffering he bore because of what we place in our head.  The decisions to rebel against God.

His right hand (wrist) nailed to the cross reflects the things we did that caused sin, his left hand (wrist) nailed to the cross reflects the things we failed to do.

Study the feet, sometimes you will see a crucifix with the left over right, sometimes we might see the feet fastened separately.

Either way, this reflects our choosing to walk a wrong path, a rabbit trail.

Consider the lance through the heart, how the Sacred Heart of Jesus loves us all so much, yet we have hardened our hearts against him choosing to sin. There is so much we can meditate on using the crucifix.

No, this article is to reach out to those who have the capacity to understand. The 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit are:

1. Wisdom - desire for the things of God, and to direct our whole life and all our actions to His honor and glory
2. Understanding - enable us to know more clearly the mysteries of faith
3. Counsel - warn us of the deceits of the devil, and of the dangers to salvation
4. Fortitude - strengthen us to do the will of God in all things
5. Knowledge - enable us to discover the will of God in all things
6. Piety - love God as a Father, and obey Him because we love Him
7. Fear of the Lord - have a dread of sin and fear of offending God

Because of love for God we are duty bound to tell the truth. Often times I will hear our friends tell us, "I don't hate Catholics, I actually love Catholics? I just want to get them all saved" or even better, they like to play the "I used to be a strong Catholic" card.

It is our duty to respond to these attempts to undermine Catholic teaching especially for those who are sitting on the fence. Hosea 4:6 tells us that God laments because His people are destroyed because of the lack of Knowledge. If you are lukewarm you need to get off the fence.

I'll show you how this often times works; As a newly promoted Specialist in the Army, just arriving in Germany for a three year deployment, after I would get off work, I would try to get out and see the area. Nearby, there was a fellowship center that Soldiers were encouraged to participate called "Hospitality House".

This is used as an outreach offering fun and games with good food. Then they have their bible studies.

On this one occasion that I was there through invitation, the organizers thought I would be a good recruit.

A potential prospect because they saw me do the 'Sign of the Cross'.

I always do this when I pray without thinking anything about it. But the people attending this fellowship some of them were 'former' Catholics and they began to approach me with questions.

I answered their questions to such a degree that the leadership was concerned I might cause a few of them to doubt their decision of leaving the Catholic Faith.

This is my intent as it says in James 5:19-20 "My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sin's".

This is the motivation for deepertruth as we want to equip people to stand up for the truth. To "hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy (Hebrews 10:23)".

We need to hold to our guns standing up for the faith. Jude 3 states, "Beloved, although I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel a need to write to encourage you to contend for the faith that was once for all handed down to the holy ones".
In order to do that we must equip ourselves with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If I know that a person was a 'former' Catholic, I am obligated to find out why they fell away (Titus 3:10).

These "Hospitality Houses" are set up to bear witness to their faith, but Catholics should be equipped when they are thrust into situations like that. If you are unprepared, you can fall and be deceived very easily with a smile and a handshake.

A tactic they will employ concerns their misrepresentation of Scripture and our lack of knowledge of it. Case in point: Martin Luther changed the emphasis of the 1st and 2nd Commandments of the Lord.

Exodus 20 begins "Then God delivered all these commandments: I the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall have no other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them".

The Protestants take the first commandment: "I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me" and cut it in two commandments. Obviously, creating gods made out of wood or plaster breaks the first Commandment. We are being accused for making "graven" images when in fact, they are not "graven" images.

The Scripture is clear that the Lord is addressing images that are the object of worship or the representation of the objects of worship that are not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Exodus 25 and 1 Kings, God instructs the Israelites to put angels on the Ark of the Old Covenant and in the Temple Solomon built.

With the completion of the Temple which included the statues of the angels that spanned the complete width of the Sanctuary, God says, "I have heard the prayer of petition which you offered in my presence. I have consecrated this Temple which you have built; I confer my name upon it forever, and my eyes and heart shall be there always".

Of the Catholic Church, Jesus says, "Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me" (Luke 10:16). Jesus warns that if we do not listen to His Church, but reject the teaching of the Church, you not only reject Jesus, but also the Lord who made His promise to Solomon (1 Kings 9:3).

The issue regarding the "graven" images that God is originally addressing concerns the surrounding nations who worshiped idols made by men, and fashioned false gods, and adored objects which is against the 1st Commandment. The Philistines worshiped a half-man, half-fish idol they called "Dagon" which Samson destroyed in their temple (Judges 16:23-31).

The story of the golden calf, the story of Solomon allowing his wives to bring in all their gods into Israel, the disobedience of the people of God was adultery to God. This all breaks the 1st Commandment.

A crucifix that depicts the death of the Lord on the cross is not an object of worship as was the object of "Dagon". Because of the people complaining against God and Moses, the Lord punished the people with 'saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. With repentance, the Lord instructed that a bronze serpent be made and had it mounted it on a pole so that who ever looks upon it will recover.

It's interesting that the Lord used a serpent on a pole for a means of healing. This foreshadows the crucifixion of Jesus. Jesus on the cross became sin so that through his death we might find healing. Jesus states, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me".St. Paul states, "but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

The crucifix represents our healing through his sacrificial death through His Resurrection.

Like the Nehustan (2 Kings 18:4) we are not to worship these objects, but like the angels on the Ark and in the Holy of the Holies in the temple, sacred objects are used to enhance the worship of the unseen God.

The Lord never intended that artist could never paint or sculptors could never create, but that these gifts be given back to him for his glory!

What Christians have believed for 1500 years before Martin Luther has not changed in 2,000 years. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever".

Do we think that first century Christians sinned because they painted objects of crosses, loaves of bread, fish, Jesus as Shepherd, Mary, and the other Apostles and Saints found on the walls of ancient catacombs?

Not at all! Many of those attacking the Catholic Church would never put this standard upon themselves as most will have pictures of family members and loved ones in their homes. The Catholic Church is a family record going back to Jesus. I have a great family album!

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