THE CROSS AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE
YOU SEE IT in miniature forms hanging from the necks of men and women, more as a personal adornment rather than as an object of pious devotion. It has been tattooed on arms and chests, and printed on religious books and pamphlets. It also starts the rosary which is the longest, most popular, and most repetitious prayers in CATHOLICISM.
It is most prominent in its larger form inside churches and their facades and spires, on landmarks, and cemeteries. Some of its forms show the figure of a man fixed on it, stripped almost naked, in intense shame, pain, and suffering, a man said to be the Lord Jesus Christ. The cross in this form is called a crucifix.
The SIGN OF THE CROSS is made before and after prayers with the RIGHT HAND touching the FOREHEAD first, then the chest, the left shoulder, and finally the right shoulder, with the performer saying at the same time: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
The MARK OF THE CROSS is also placed on the FOREHEADS of CATHOLICS on Ash Wednesday while the priest says: “Memente, homo, quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris,” a Latin phrase is translated as: “Remember, man, that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
The cross is used ALLEGEDLY to drive away demons and evil spirits but strangely enough, a Catholic who passes by a Catholic church or chapel makes the sign of it. And with the frequent use of it and its display in so many places, demons and evil spirits should have but very few places left for them to rest on earth.
The cross was also used in the banners of the Crusaders who, in the Middle Ages, warred against Muslims during the attempts to regain the Holy Land from the Seljuk Turks and even to massacre members of heretical organizations like the Albigensians and the Hussites.
What is the cross and what does it signify? What is it to pagans, to Catholics, and other so-called Christian churches, and to the Iglesia ni Cristo?
MARK OF THE DAMMED
A Catholic priest, Rev. Clement H. Crock, asserts that the cross has been, among other things, A SYMBOL OF SHAME even before the beginning of Christianity. He says:
“Before the time of Christ the cross was the symbol of shame, ignorance and dishonor. Like the guillotine, the noose, or the electric chair, it was the instrument for the execution of the worst criminals. The cross was branded upon the forehead of criminals as a symbol of disgrace before the whole world.” (Discourses on the Apostles’ Creed, p. 16)
Another Catholic priest, Rt. Rev. John F. Sullivan, confirms this:
“The Cross Among Pagans. Among many nations the cross was in use for the execution of criminals. The most ancient practice was to hang the condemned person on the tree, either by nails or ropes; and this led to the employing of two pieces of timber for the same purpose.” (The Externals of the Catholic Church: A Handbook of Catholic Usage, p. 220)
The Catholic Church is conspicuous in its devotion to the cross as its sacred symbol. The reverence to this symbol is openly and frequently exhibited by its devout members proudly and shamelessly. CATHOLICS CONSIDER THE CROSS AS AN OBJECT OF WORSHIP as stated by John Chapin:
“Moreover we worship even the image of the precious and life-giving Cross, although made of another tree, not honoring the tree (God forbid) but the image as a symbol of Christ.” (The Book of Catholic Quotations, p. 230)
However, NO COMMAND was given by the Holy Scriptures as Catholic priests themselves admit:
“These practices are not commanded by a formal law of Scripture; but tradition teaches them, custom confirms them, , faith observes them.” (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 3)
How important is the cross to Catholicism? Rt. Rev. John Sullivan says:
“THE CROSS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OF CATHOLIC EMBLEMS. It symbolizes the redemption of mankind and our holy faith, because Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and our God, died on the cross. It is used on our churches, schools, institutions, altars, vestments, etc., as a symbolic ornament; and when blessed, as either a cross or a crucifix, it becomes a great sacramental of our religion.” (The Visible Church, p. 121)
And how do Catholics use the cross as a symbol? James Cardinal Gibbons says:
“It is also a very ancient and pious practice for the faithful to make on their persons the sign of the Cross, saying at the same time: ‘In the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost’. Tertullian, who lived in the second century of the Christian era says: ‘IN ALL OUR ACTIONS, when we come in or go out, when we dress, when we wash, at our meals, before retiring to sleep … we form on our FOREHEADS the sign of the cross’.” (The Faith of Our Fathers, p. 3.)
Rev. Francis B. Cassily describes how the sign of the cross is performed:
“In making the sign of the cross, we place the extended fingers of THE RIGHT HAND ON THE FOREHEAD.” (Religion: Doctrine and Practice for the Use in Catholic High Schools, p. 341)
Notice that the sign of the cross is made by placing the fingers of the right hand on the forehead and, on Ash Wednesday, this sign is printed on the forehead of Catholics with ashes derived from burned palms used on the previous Palm Sunday.
SUCH A MARK ON THE FOREHEAD IS THE SYMBOL OF THE BEAST described in Revelation 13:11-18, specifically mentioned in verse 16 as “ … a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads” (King James Version). SUCH MARK IS THE MARK OF THE BEAST WHOSE NUMBER IS 666. Those who receive this mark will be damned (Rev. 14:9-11). We see this mark on people who receive it during Ash Wednesdays!
THE CROSS IN THE IGLESIA NI CRISTO
The Iglesia ni Cristo has Christ as its Founder, Savior, and Mediator between God and man. Yet, IT DOES NOT HAVE THE CROSS AS ITS CENTRAL SYMBOL. It does not have a cross on its buildings, on its things, or on its members. Why is this so?
There is nothing in the Scriptures that indicates the PHYSICAL CROSS as TO BE REVERED. On the contrary, Christ’s crucifixion shows it as an OBJECT OF SHAME, an INSTRUMENT OF DEATH for condemned criminals. After Christ’s death, there was no attempt on the part of His disciples to retrieve the cross as a memorial, as a relic and symbol, and certainly not as an object of veneration.
The Iglesia ni Cristo does not take after pagan ways in the treatment of the cross. The cross is an image, the worship of which is forbidden (Exo. 20:4-5). As an object, it is a symbol of shame (Heb. 12:1-2). It was on that cross where Christ suffered unspeakable shame, humiliation, suffering, and death. The cross on which Christ died IS NOT REALLY HIS CROSS but of the Romans who used it as the instrument to execute criminals. It would be an act of disrespect to continue portraying Christ as He was being humiliated, tortured, and killed.
THE CROSS OF CHRIST. Apostle Paul did mention a cross of Christ:
“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14, King James Version)
The same apostle mentions enemies of the CROSS OF CHRIST as those “ … whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Philip. 3:19, Ibid.)
The cross of Christ refers not to the cross on which the Savior died but the gospel which Apostle Paul preached:
“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (I Cor. 1:17-18, Ibid.)
And what is this power of God to save? It is the gospel as Apostle Paul further explained:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1:16, Ibid.)
CARRY YOUR OWN CROSS. Christ commanded His followers to carry their own crosses:
“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Lk. 9:23, Ibid.)
This cross that Christ referred to is HIS YOKE (Mt. 11:29-30), THE OBLIGATION that His true servants should perform as part of their services to Him and to the Lord God. THIS IS NOT THE LITERAL CROSS that is made of wood or any other material such as that being used in the Catholic and Protestant churches.
Thus, a true Christian’s failure to perform his religious responsibilities is tantamount to not carrying his cross; neither could he follow Christ. Sacrifices are inevitable for the true Christians or the members of the true Church of Christ to become worthy before the Father and before our Lord Jesus Christ. *
Cassily, Francis B., S.J. Religion: Doctrine and Practice for Use in Catholic High Schools. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1934
Chapin, John, ed. The Book of Catholic Quotations. London: John Calder (Publishers) Ltd., 1957
Crock, Rev. Clement H. Discourses on the Apostle’s Creed. New York City: Joseph F. Wagner Inc. 1938.
Gibbons, James Cardinal. The Faith of Our Fathers. Malabon, Rizal: Magsimpan Press, 1950.
Sullivan, Rt. Rev. Msgr. John F. D.D. The Externals of the Catholic Church: A Handbook of Catholic Usage, New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1951.
________. The Visible Church. New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1922.
Brother PEDRITO B. PLACIO
PASUGO GOD’S MESSAGE