Fr. Dwight doesn’t like…

resurrucifixes.  I’m not super keen on them either.  I sometimes fancy that part of the reason the death and resurrection of Jesus have this curious three day span between them is precisely to emphasize the really truly deadness of his death in order to emphasize the really truly aliveness of his resurrection.  Resurrucifixes tend to blur that.  They feel like our a product of the Pepsi Generation trying to hurry past all that death business in order to get to Yoda, Obiwan and Anakin looking all glowy and happy.  A crucifix is *supposed* to rub our nose in death.  We’ll get to the Resurrection, never you fear.  But pause and remember the cost.

That said, it’s an aesthetic judgment and I try to charitably suppose that an artist who makes such things has pious intentions.  So I refused to join in all the bedwetting and hysteria when somebody gave the pope a resurrucifix a few weeks ago.  Life is too short for constant panic attacks over such ephemera.

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  • James H, London

    To people terminally ill or depressed, the resurrucifix is ideal.

    • Dan C

      Maybe. I, however, would not refer to you as a “shallow-minded sentimentalist.”

      Making a blood sport of every liturgical disagreement is a practice of the culture wars.

      • Why would anyone downvote this? It’s one of the truest things ever said on this blog.

    • Bill

      well, maybe to you, but to others the sight of Christ actually going through suffering, so He can empathize and sympathize, is much more profound

    • She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

      As someone who has suffered with profound and debilitating depression, I disagree. The resurrected Christ is a symbol of the hope we have, but the crucified Christ who is suffering not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as He takes on the sins of the whole of humanity is a figure that offers much more comfort to me. I don’t doubt that there are some depression sufferers who are more comforted by the vision of the resurrected Christ, but I think the vast majority would find more comfort in the image of Christ suffering.

  • Dan C

    They are somewhat ever-present in the suburbs. Inner city parishes locally tend to have the corpus on the crucifix.

    Mary Karr relates the story of first identifying with Catholicism and its corporeal fascination as being part of the “catch.” She notes that the Crucified Christ is attention grabbing, and one would want to read her essay “Facing Altars,” if only for the language.

  • Dan C

    I am always entertained at the uber-sensitive culture warriors who get all weepy when you criticize the right wing (breaking a cardinal rule of conservatives- no conservative is in error- a propaganda worthy of Pravda), yet, on a matter of aesthetics, Fr. Longnecker can let out the culture war/liturgy war dogs on a matter of aesthetics and no one comments that he is over the top.

    Fr. Longenecker can be relied on to be disrespectful to his opponents who routinely identify as liberals.

    • Bill

      I just think he doesn’t like these. That’s all

    • Joejoe

      Really not sure where you’re getting that. A liturgical debate is far different than a political debate.

      • Stu

        Some people see everything through a political lens.

  • Dan C

    I myself think that suburban folk need the to view Christ tortured. Perhaps the inner city folks , routinely laboring under aggressive disrespectful bosses, difficult families, services and systems that do not work, need to see images of the resurrection more, but actually, the art is reversed.

  • Rosemarie


    My brother had a rather nice one hanging on his wall thirty years ago. I liked it back then, though over the years I’ve also seen some cheesy modern art ones that I didn’t like.

    So I guess I’m used to them, but I agree that they shouldn’t replace the crucifix. If they could be just another depiction of Our Lord in religious art, alongside the crucifix, the Sacred Heart, the Christ Child, etc., I’d have no problem with that. Unfortunately, Fr. Dwight is right that they are usually put up by people who are uneasy with the crucifix, so they do tend replace it in practice.

    He makes many good points, though when he says he’s never met anyone who is frightened by the crucifix, well, when I was little a friend of mine started crying when she saw a large crucifix in church, saying “How could they do that to Him?” So at least some people have reacted negatively to crucifixes. That’s not an argument for doing away with them, just an observation that the image of Christ crucified can be disconcerting to at least some little children.

    Also, IIRC, Risen Christ crucifixes are not supposed to be hanging over the altar in place of a regular crucifix, which I’ve unfortunately seen in some churches.

  • wlinden

    And what about the Santo Volto in Lucca? Fluffy modernists, were they?

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    I’ve never liked them either, but I always thought it was because I’m a fusty and old fashioned. Glad to see I’m not alone.

  • Stu

    Never liked them. They remind me of my time as a Lutheran when we were being taught that we don’t have Christ on the Cross in our church because we want want to emphasize the Resurrection and not dwell on the Crucifixion. But as Father Longnecker points out, that’s not Biblical.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    The only time I liked one was in a parish I was in after college. Most of the year, they had the traditional, dying Christ on the cross. For Easter Sunday, though, they would remove that one and put up a Resurrected Christ. It stays up through Easter season and then the usual crucifix is back. I thought that, if one was appropriate, it was most appropriate during Easter season.

    • D.T. McCameron

      Our parish also gets ours for a few weeks after Easter. And the cross itself is less of a cross, and more a vaguely cruciform assembly or rays and beams of gold (painted wood).

  • EMS

    From what I understand, the first Christians only portrayed the resurrected Christ. Given that many of them saw first hand the suffering inflicted not only on Christians, they focused on the risen Christ. The crucifix showed up in art later. My Church has both – a larger than lifesize risen Christ behind the altar (and facing the main entrance) and another larger than life crucifix (along with the 2 thieves, Mary and John) facing most of the congregation.

  • Mark R

    Contrary to expectations, the Eastern or early Church do not have an icon of the Resurrection per se…it was unwitnessed. The canononically closest things are the Harrowing of Hell, Christ appearing to the myrrhbearers, and the Noli me tangere.Eastern churches often have icons or murals depicting the Resurrection, but they are 18th and 19th cent. westernised artifacts.
    Of course there are crucifixes in the East, but there the spiritual agony of Christ is emphasized in the theology more than His physical suffering.