Do not Despair; Get a Crucifix

If you are anxious and despairing and worried, here is my advice: get a crucifix.

Not a cross, a crucifix. Get a small one you can keep in your pocket; and another you can keep discreetly at your desk; get one for your home.

Keep the crucifix before your eyes, and it will teach you everything. It will train you to the longview.

The earthly goings-on that make us anxious and full of despair are a manifestation of the wholly spiritual war that proceeds apace — continually,though unseen – all around us. When we buy into it and lose hope we are opening ourselves up to a spiritual oppression meant to cast us into the darkness and away from the light. Because the main battle is supernatural, we recognize it in our spirit; we feel it in our spirit, and then, when the pain is too great, we either try to numb ourselves to it, or allow the spirit to collapse, completely.

Better to arm the spirit. Feed it through Eucharistic Adoration and Holy Commuion; strengthen it with the sacramental grace of confession, so that regardless of what happens, despair never enters into the equation, never enters into you — because you understand that God’s hand is still a part of things; we are not abandoned; so much of what is spinning past is illusion and if the rest is real, it is nothing to be afraid of.

If you do not have a crucifix, get one; get a couple of them, and have them blessed.

Study them. While you’re meditating on the crucifix, ask God to show you what you need to know — ask for what Solomon asked for: an understanding heart. Ask Mary to teach you what she learned while she stood beneath the reality of it. Ask her to explain about the longview — about how sometimes what is horrifying and unjust must happen, if something else is to be able to happen.

When bad thoughts enter in — sinful thoughts, dark thoughts, anxious thoughts — follow St. Benedict’s instruction in his Holy Rule: “When evil thoughts come into one’s heart, dash them at once against Christ, the Rock” — imagine yourself crashing them against the crucifix, and they shatter.

You’ll be amazed at how calmly you’ll be able to observe all these goings on, if you keep the sacraments in your life, and your eyes on the crucifix.

“Everything” is about nothing.
Everything ended with the sacrifice of the Lamb.
All is consummated.
We are forever and always at the Last Supper, at the Crucifixion, at the Resurrection.
Time ended with the tearing of the veil and the rolling back of the stone.
The rest is illusion and catching up.
There is nothing to be afraid of.

The Crucifix teaches us balance.

With the Corpus in the Center
On my Oratory
More on the longview
Mary and the Crucifix

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • http://www.readerwriterrunner,com Steve

    Thank you. I needed this advice today.

  • Alex

    Sound advice, I have one above my desk (it’s not small) so we can keep an eye on each other while I’m working.

    A friend recommended your blog to me and I’m really enjoying it: thanks!

  • Gayle Miller

    Good advice. I just moved and couldn’t find the crucifix I’ve had on my bedroom wall for years. Just found it. It has special meaning. It was on my favorite aunt’s coffin and also on my mother’s. Now that may sound creepy – but those two beautiful women were the most important influences on my life and having that crucifix on my wall reminds me of their love and reminds me that I will see them again (as I get older, that day is coming closer and I’m no longer afraid of it). The peace and tranquility of my rest is enhanced, my ability to deal with stresses is increased and my attitude is 100% better.

  • Nicky

    Thank you. We needed those words of wisdom.

  • Amy

    Yes, good advice. I have them throughout my home along with works of holy art and sacramentals.
    Please, you bishops, priests, deacons and all religious – if you read The Anchoress – remind your flocks of the importance of all sacramentals. Be not afraid!

  • Jayne

    Thanks, Elizabeth. I needed to read this today. Especially after these conventions, it’s so easy to get sucked down into all of the muck-raking, when we need to be looking up to the only One who matters.

  • Bobby

    Too many times I forgot how much easier it would be for me to go through this life if only I keep before me what is important and to cast away what is not. Simplicity is the best solution and you’ve just supplied me with the perfect solution. Thank you.

  • Emmy

    Thank you very much for this article, Ms. Scalia! I am currently going through some personal trials, and the biggest challenge so far was that I keep myself from succumbing to despair and hopelessness. During adoration, I realized that whenever I gave in to hopelessness, I was letting the evil one get an upper hand! Thank you for sharing this, thank you!

  • Tracey

    Interesting post. Having just been going through some videos about Mormons who became born-again Christians, forsaking the works-righteousness system found in the Mormon church, one of the things that I found striking was how many of them found that wearing a cross was offensive to Mormons and frowned upon by the Mormon hierarchy. Why? Because Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross, in complete payment of our sins, goes directly against Mormon teaching that “you’re saved by grace, after all you can do.” It’s a wondrous thing when I see ex-Mormons wear their crosses as a testimony against the bondage they previously endured. While I don’t think any of them would say that wearing a cross was necessary for their relationship with Jesus, I think they would say that it was important to “fly their flag” as a witness to truth.

  • J. H. M. Ortiz

    Yes, nowadays a bare cross without a corpus has lost a lot of its Christian meaning. (My dear agnostic granddaughter may sometimes wear such an empty cross decoratively, yet tends to bristle at any mention of Jesus.) My parish’s sanctuary has an icon-crucifix (with foreshortening à la a certain painting by Salvador Dali, if I’m not mistaken) which is at once quite graphic and (at least in my opinion) tasteful.
    On the other hand, what about a crucifix whose corpus is that of a well-built young man nearly nude, with eyes open and face painfully agonizing? How likely is such a crucifix to induce to a sadistic or cruel “morose delectation”?

  • Manny

    This came on a day I needed it too, not that I was in despair, that’s a rather sytrong word, but certainly down a bit. Thanks.

    I wear a crucifix around my neck where I will occaisionally touch my chest to feel it. I do keep a rosary in my desk at work that has a crucifix at the end and a standing crucifix inside my filing cabinent. I will close my door and turn to them when the need arises.

  • Bill M.

    I bought a simple wall crucifix a couple years ago, shortly after returning to the Church. I knew it would help me, but had no idea it would become an axis upon which my life both inside and outside of my small apartment turns.

  • Suzanne

    Wonderful advice. When I was a senior in college (many moons ago now), my boyfriend and I broke up after three years of being together. It was not entirely unexpected, but I was devastated to the point of being physically ill. Immediately after the break-up, when i couldn’t stop sobbing hysterically, my beautiful mother brought me her blessed crucifix given to her by a priest friend of the family. I cannot describe what power and comfort there was in wrapping my hand tightly around that crucifix and clutching it close to my heart. I slept with it that night and for all the remaining nights that summer, I kept it under my pillow. I find that even now when I am sorely tried or grieving, I long to clutch that crucifix close to my heart. I will have to find one.

  • Stefanie

    Elizabeth, well said.
    Just a week ago, our pastor introduced everyone to our new Crucifix — the only exact copy of the one in the Sistine Chapel–which is placed behind the altar. (you can search for the Sistine Chapel image on the internet)
    For as many who weep when they see the Crucifix and tell Jesus “thank you, Lord!” — there are others who have complained that they can’t concentrate on Holy Mass with ‘it’ so centrally located.
    It is an amazing and powerful image. And it will be until the end of time.
    The suffering find comfort in the suffering (and conquering) Jesus.

  • Marion

    Thank you so much for this. Its been a very hard, difficult year, and despair has been haunting my steps for much of it. I trust and know that God has all things planned for the good, but its still hard to get through sometimes. This was like a hand offered on a steep trail, thank you!

  • Marcy W.

    Thank you. This is just excellent.

  • Peggy R

    Thank you. I am anxious about our kids’ medication needs and lack of insurance coverage for it. I am praying the mfr’s coupon will be available to us again.

  • Jane Hartman

    The scriptures say “by his wounds we are healed.” How paradoxical to think that looking on our Lord’s intense suffering would heal us. But it is so. I have a crucifix in my office in obvious view, in my living room and various others, too. By contemplating His great suffering, He sets things aright. Sometimes I ask Him to hide me in his wounds when life becomes too hard. Thank you, Elizabeth. You are an anchoress.

  • Julie Preece

    Thank you this fits so much into my life the last few day’s or months and sometimes I have trouble reminding my self of the long view when I become anxious, and for the causes. It is one thing to know it but it helpful to have another believer to remind us. Thank you again.

  • Sev

    Wow, feels like this article is speaking to me directly. A very timely article. Thank you!