Aleteia

Help! My stepmother mocks the crucifix on my wall

CRUCIFIX WALL
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Of course “he’s not there, anymore…” but the lessons remain.

Katrina,

My stepmom drives me crazy. She’s a wonderful woman and I love her to pieces but every time she comes over to my apartment she has to make a comment about the crucifix I have in the living room. She says it really bothers her to see Jesus hanging on the cross like that when her Jesus is risen. She’ll laugh and point to it and say something like “He’s not there anymore” or “My Jesus triumphed over the cross.” She just says it way like “oh, you silly Catholics with your Jesus still crucified” that makes me insane.  

I don’t go into her home and comment on how it’s decorated. I’m not going to take it down so I wished she’d just respect me and quit bringing it up. What do you say to someone like that?

TJ in Atlanta

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Dear TJ,   

You didn’t say, but I’m going to safely assume your stepmom is a member of some Protestant denomination. That is common attitude some sects of southern Protestantism have toward the image of the crucifix. I encountered a very similar situation when I moved to Birmingham. We had friends over for dinner one evening and one women was openly disturbed and uncomfortable with my very graphic, very realistic Spanish crucifix and made those similar comments. In fact she was kind of rude; however, I had the good luck of never having to invite her over again. Being that your stepmom is family, your solution won’t be neat and simple as mine was.

You answered your own question when you asked what to say. Tell her exactly what you told me: you’re not going to take it down so she needs to respect your wishes. It’s your home, your religion, your crucifix.

While you can agree with her that, yes, Jesus triumphed over the cross, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t honor and respect the image of His crucified body.  The depiction of  the crucified Christ  on a crucifix isn’t just some morbid representation of a dead Jesus on a cross. The crucifixion is the purest, truest, ultimate act of love. When we look at a crucifix we are reminded of that self sacrificial, unconditional love Christ has for us. We are reminded of the price of our redemption.

St. Maximilian Kolbe called the crucifix the “school of love.” One thing the Protestants don’t consider is that by keeping the crucifix before our eyes, we are reminded, while in the midst of our own sufferings, that there is nothing we are experiencing that Jesus has not also experienced, within his Passion, and so he is our true companion, the God who truly knows what it is to suffer. That’s not a lesson (or a consolation) to be ignored.

If you gently explained to your stepmom in those terms I doubt she’ll take issue with your request. I think if your stepmom knows how you genuinely feel about your crucifix — you can even tell her where you got or why you got it — her opinion will soften. A little understanding can go a long way. Maybe one day she’ll even begin to share your appreciation of the crucifix.