Thursday, November 19, 2009
“The Vatican denounced a ruling by the European court of human rights that said the display of crucifixes in Italian public schools violates religious and education freedoms.” By Alessandra Rizzo, Associated Press Writer
Does this break your heart like it breaks mine? How does the crucifix which freed me from my sin, violate religious and educational freedom?
Here in America, the crucifix and prayer in public schools has long been done away with and is a tremendous loss to people of all faith backgrounds. When my children study history and/or world cultures in school, they learn about all faiths, not only Christian but Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu as well. Having knowledge of all faiths can only help to increase our understanding of and love for one another. Shutting the door on a faith and its religious symbols only serves to increase fear, misunderstanding and hatred.
When my children were in a public grade school I was always saddened when I would take them to our parish classrooms for religious studies, for it was in those rooms where I would see the beautiful crucifix and statue of our Blessed Mother. It hurt to realize that my children were denied the comfort of the precious symbols of our faith in the school that they attended each day.
What I resolved to do was to make sure my children were well educated in their faith, not simply by sending them to Christian Formation classes at our parish, but mainly by teaching them the tenets of our Catholic traditions at home and encouraging them to live their faith each day no matter where they happened to be. If the Christian symbol of the Crucifix could not be displayed in their public school classrooms, then the symbol of the Resurrected Christ would be carried in their hearts each day and shared with a non-believing world through their daily words and actions. Like the old hymn states: “They will know we are Christians by our love.”
Each day when I would walk my children to public school, I would trace the sign of the cross on their foreheads before they walked into the school as a physical reminder to them that Christ lives in them and they are to show His love to others. Then they would each trace the cross on my forehead as well so that I would also carry Christ with me no matter where I went. Today, my children who attend Catholic school, begin their day with Holy Mass and the reception of the Eucharist so that Jesus is truly alive in their hearts and can readily be shared with others through their actions each day.
I realize that this is only the tip of the iceberg, for beyond living our faith as individuals and sharing our personal love of Christ with others, we can display our faith in so many ways. Why not consider wearing a crucifix necklace every day as an outward sign of your faith? Crucifix bumper stickers for the car and statues in our yards could be a great way to display our faith. My young friend John, in England, who is editor of "A Vocation to Be a Priest" has purchased small crucifixes to leave on buses and trains. If the European government is going to rule against the crucifix in schools, he plans to bring the crucifix with him wherever he goes so that the whole world will know that wherever we are, Christ is there too. With his loving words, actions and personal witness, John plans to keep the crucifix visible not only in the schools, but in every public place in Europe.
For more on this topic, I encourage you to visit Gabriella’s Blog. You may also feel moved to email the Committee of Ministers to protest their verdict at: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a worldwide concern, not simply a European concern. Please add your voice and your prayers to address this disgraceful situation.