Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Altar-nate" Reality

In the course of constructing this simple home "altar", the crucifix fell to the floor & Christ's body popped off with a small, metallic clink. Thankfully, there was no real damage. Apparently, the craftsman (or woman) neglected to nail Jesus to the Cross. They simply glued His hands & feet & called it good. I began looking for tiny nails to do the job right, but it proved impossible without the right tools. I ended up resorting to super glue. It felt strange to hold His hollow body between my fingertips & press Him to the cross, as if I were a modern day centurion "crucifying Him all over again" (He. 6:4-6).

But there were no nails... I could easily pull Him off the Cross if I wanted to. I suddenly realized that without the nails, the whole premise of the Cross is actually weakened. While Christ crucified is foolishness to the world, Christ crucified is the very salvation & power of God for those of us who are continually being saved (1 Cor. 1:18). Jesus willingly gave Himself over to be nailed, hands & feet to the wood for a reason. I need those nails to live. I need His suffering to be able to endure my own.

The "altar" I fashioned is a simple wooden wine crate. In each corner are rocks I picked up during prayer walks on the coast. The fabric inside is actually one of those snazzy oriental rug mouse pads. I think it adds a little color to the mix. The framed picture is of a crucifix that hangs in a Church in Limpias, Spain. Its 6 feet tall & has been known to open & close it's eyes, sweat & even breathe. I have no idea if it's true & quite honestly, I don't really care. Its the look on Christ's face that gets me. He just looks so... real. You can almost hear Him saying "Father, forgive them..." To the left is a one decade rosary I bought well before I was a Catholic...it was my introduction to a more structured way of contemplating His life & sufferings outside of the Easter season. A tiny Mary (Our Lady of Grace is apparently the official name of this particular representation) stands at the foot of the cross with open arms, inviting a closer look. Finally, I have some incense & a candle for ambiance.

So whats the point of having an "altar"? Yeah, I admit it sounds kind of creepy. But there won't be any sacrificing of small rodents or ill-gotten body parts here. This is an altar dedicated to the salvation & power of God... Its a place to remember the suffering of Christ. Again, why? Truth is, I know my own suffering well enough.  I've seen those around me suffer & we all know the world languishes daily. But its not very often that the notion of Christ's suffering is mindfully & actively joined to my own (or another's) daily outside of a Sunday Mass or a random Rosary.

My "altar" is specifically meant to be a stopping point, a place to pray daily  & remember the Passion (that is, the sufferings) of Christ. Without His sufferings, my sufferings & those of the world mean nothing... But as I acknowledge His sacrifice, His horrible death, His glorious resurrection & eternal Lordship, I not only come to know the purpose & worth of His suffering & consequent triumph... I am able to gain hope for my own as well.

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