Saint Thomas Aquinas would complete all of his works while meditating upon a Crucifix. It is said that after he finished writing the words to the song, Pange Lingua, the Corpus on his cross came to life and said, “Well done, Thomas”.
At the end of his life, while Saint Thomas was meditating again on the crucifix, Our Lord revealed such great mysteries to him that he commented that all his previous works were but a pile of hay next to what had been shown him — all of it coming from the image of an infinite God, who died as a finite, criminal man.
Beaten, bloody, and pierced, His Image on the Cross reminds us of the contradiction that the all-powerful, all-knowing God would gratuitously save man by making Himself helpless in the hands of men for the sake of restoring justice. Although man did all the wrong, although justice would demand that the transgressor, man, be punished, Jesus, the God-Man, took the blame and the burden of reparation, even to the point of becoming a man Himself to be punished as a man in the ultimate act of love.
Even the act of reparation itself — putting an innocent man, Jesus, to death — was a transgression warranting reparation in the Divine Court of Justice. God took it all upon Himself, for His love for us is so great that He would do anything to save us, and so it is that He did the “anything”. This contradiction is the heart of the mystery of redemption and the sign of God’s infinite love and infinite justice.
As a sign of God’s love then, the Crucifix serves as a reminder of man’s duty to God. That if the fact that God didn’t prove His love in sustaining our creation, He went to the extreme, totally zealous to prove to each man that He loves man so much that He not only made him, but died for him. So great is this Divine Love, that when man had exercised his will to choose death, God would trade places with each and every man, thereby giving man divine life and taking from him death. This in itself warrants a duty upon man to God beyond man’s debt to God for existence alone. Oh, lest it be forgotten that God did this gratuitously, even the corrupt justice of man must recognize the obligation to thank the gracious Giver of such a gift.
And so it is that this sign of God’s love stirs within the soul of man a call to responsibility and duty to God. If it is then that the simple act of looking at the Crucifix calls into one a deep sense of responsibility, it can be understood why some today do not want to see the Crucifix at all. If one is evading duty, then one also evades anything calling one to duty. Oh, the excuses for this evasion can be anything, but the heart of the matter is that when we want to sin, we do not want to be reminded of the true cost of sin, the Crucifix.
Can it be any surprise, then, that in some churches the Crucifix is replaced with an image of Christ detached from the Cross, un-bloody, un-pierced? But in cheapening the duty of the law, we would cheapen the price of transgression. We do not want to think that the only just response to the no-holds-barred action of God can only be a no-holds-barred response.
This all-out response of God to man demands no shame, save that of repentance. And the sign of this all-out response should not be hidden, for it calls each man to continual repentance. It should be the proud sign of a Catholic to display the Crucifix, for the crucifix rightly and fully shows the love of God. And when those around a Catholic ask the question, “What would Jesus Do?,” the right and just answer is “what Jesus did” — the Crucifix.
This article was first published by the Adoremus Bulletin in their April 2000 edition.
Today is the eve of the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, or elaborated in the Eastern Church’s feast names as Exaltation of the Life-Giving Cross (stemming from the fact that once the Cross was found, it was determined to be the True Cross by bringing a man back to life, and held high for people to venerate).
After changing our name to honor St. Robert Bellarmine, there was still something missing. For years, the Forum has had this diamond logo with a cross in the middle:
As we worked along, we missed having the Cross as the central part of the logo. It is, after all, as I elaborated in this article, the chief sacramental, handed to us from the Apostles themselves! Furthermore, if we are to be on the attack, as Frank Morriss writes in the upcoming issue of the Bellarmine Forum Magazine, and as our Chairman Professor Charles Rice wrote several years back when he announced that we were going to make this website, the Campaign initiatives, and be who we are: Your Forum for the Catholic Faith, we needed to keep the cross in the center of our logo, that is, at the center of our identity.
We worked on this logo ourselves. Sure, it has some rough edges, but like Servant of God Fr. Walter Ciszek said, when asked why he preferred to cohort with the brothers over the company of the scholars, we “prefer to keep our rough edges!”
We’ve been slowly rolling this new logo out, but please notice what it says: we are rooted in and grow from the foot of the cross. The cross is the center of our activities. And, it is the source of our work.
We’re rolling this logo back into everything and it will slowly take its place on all our website and print materials. Just like the Crucifix is controversial, the cross itself is is always in the thick of decisive moments: Just like we are!
Are you in the Battle?
This article, The Controversial Sign of Redemption: the heart of our logo. is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.
About John B. Manos
John B. Manos, Esq. is an attorney and chemical engineer. He has a dog, Fyo, and likes photography, astronomy, and dusty old books published by Benzinger Brothers. He is the President of the Bellarmine Forum.