So I'm at Sunday mass today and I once again find myself in a church that seems to have forgotten the suffering of Christ.
Yes, it is a Catholic church. But the idea of Christ suffering on the cross has pretty much been banished here.
Behind the alter there is a large cross -- a cross that appropriately dominates the church.
But the cross does not feature the corpus -- the suffering body of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
Instead, we see the risen Christ emerging from the cross with his arms outstretched, welcoming all.
Increasingly, this seems to be the norm in American Catholic churches, especially newer churches.
Yes, I understand that there would be no Catholic church if Christ has not arisen from the dead.
I get it.
But the suffering of Christ is central to the faith.
Christ's suffering inspires us, teaches us, gives us strength and urges us onward beyond this life to salvation and to eternal life.
For the faithful, it reminds us that Christ suffered and dies for us.
For those of other faiths and non-believers, it defines one of the central lessons of the Church.
I'm trying to figure out how and when the suffering Christ began to disappear.
Did the depiction of Christ nailed to the cross somehow become too graphic, too intense, too unpleasant for Catholics to bear? Was it too bloody, too messy? Was Christ too scantily clad? Did someone decide it was all too scary for young people? Did someone think this might be a good way to sanitize the church? Was it all part of a path toward "feel good" Catholicism?
I don't know.
I don't have the answer.
I only know that it happened.
And I know that I don't like it.
Something tells me that this new cross is homogenized, scrubbed, neutral, and ultimately empty.
This trend is not good for the Church and it ought to be stopped before it goes any further.
It's time to bring back Christ on the cross, suffering and dying for our sins.