1 April 2015

The cross is not a Rorschach Test

Some years ago, I attended  a Stations of the Cross at my old home parish.  The meditations on each station that evening had a phrase that kept popping up over and over again, rather as a refrain:  "my other self".  That was what Jesus represented to whomever wrote the reflections:  "my other self."  The whole thing reeked of an indecent narcissism - it turned the Passion and Death of Our Savior into something that was All About Us.  I had hoped that this was a isolated reflection, but a few years after that I attended Stations on another Good Friday at the Cathedral itself, and the same reflections were used.

I have heard that the Pope is rumored to be using another set of reflections for his Stations on Good Friday this year.  It is not the reflections I have heard, thankfully, but unfortunately, it doesn't look good.  Here is the reflection for the Station "Christ is Crucified":

We gaze at you, Jesus, as you are nailed to the cross, and our conscience is troubled. We anxiously ask: When will the death penalty, still practiced in many states, be abolished?...  When will every form of torture and the violent killing of innocent persons come to an end? Your Gospel is the surest defense of the human person, of every human being.

I am not going to argue the death penalty here.  A Catholic in good conscience may be for or against it.  That is not my point at the moment.  What I would like to point out is what this reflection has in common with the other:  The author is projecting onto the passion and death of Our Lord what they want or what their concerns of the day are, and steadfastly refusing to see what is there.   There is a tendency within the church to see almost anything else but what is there to be seen. 

Just like the phrase "Eucharistic Celebration" has replaced "Holy Sacrifice of the Mass", these reflections turn us away from the sacrifice, from the moment of our salvation, and direct our attention elsewhere.  It treats the cross like a Rorschach ink blot, devoid of meaning except what we project onto it.  That is false.  The Cross is Real:  it stands at the heart of our faith.  It begins our faith.  It is true, or nothing is true. It has meaning, or nothing has meaning, and yet time and time again we are told to turn away from that meaning and see something else- our own precious selves, or some political cause of the moment- even on the day when the cross stands before in the most glaring light.

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