Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Old Wooden Pectoral Cross

The pectoral cross I’ve owned the longest is a simple wooden cross. According to the package it came in, it is made from olive wood from Jerusalem. It’s shape is known as a Latin cross, but I don’t know why.

I like it because it is simple and wooden. It was also the first one that I wore regularly. When I bought it I thought that it would be nice to wear on those summer days when it’s just too hot to wear a clergy collar. I thought that it could identify me as a priest when I wasn’t wearing the collar.

The basic purpose of crosses as symbols in the Church is that they do identify something as Christian. Whether it’s a church or chapel, a book or table, a plate or a person; the cross is certainly an identifying marker. The Church has not (and suppose cannot) claim an exclusive copyright on a cross. And certainly not one as simple as the Latin cross.

The cross was, at one time, a symbol of political power, the power of the state to take a life when it was in their best interests to do so. This same symbol was transformed by Christian people into a symbol of hope because it is through this tool of torture and death that Jesus journeyed to the resurrection. It becomes an important symbol for us because of the hope it gives us that we can be transformed, that the powers of corruption and violence can be transformed, that death can be transformed into life.

During Lent we get ready (spiritually and physically) for the Easter, and the celebration of the hope we have in the cross of Christ. My old wooden pectoral cross reminds me that, in the face of evil hope will triumph and we will proclaim on Easter morning that Christ is risen! Alleluia!

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