Thursday, March 15, 2012

Religious Decorations


A cross is a "religious decoration", says Rowan Williams, the one he is wearing might well be! Though I think here he is wearing an Orthodox Panagia from his jewellery box - not quite the normal thing for a western bishop or even "bishop". Of course he comes from a form of Protestantism that has had difficulty with icons and Crosses and although he has written about iconography I suspect he doesn't have a visceral understanding of the meaning or attachment  to such things.

The Cross I am wearing is not a decoration, I do not have a collection of them. Mine is a sacramental, and therefore an aid to holiness, it is part of my Lenten discipline, irritatingly heavy enough to remind me to pray. You could say it is in part the fruit of a vow, all be it a personal one.

He is right no Christian is under an obligation to wear a cross but religion today is about personal choice and I choose to wear a Cross. If I were a Coptic Orthodox I might choose to be tattooed with Holy Cross or in a former age to branded with the Cross.

Nothing obliges a married person to wear a wedding ring but it is a sign of devotion and love, it is the same as my Cross.


Anonymous said...

Bosnian Croat women, who are of course Roman Catholic, traditionally tattooed crosses on themselves too, for much the same reasons as the Copts. Indeed, there are still old women alive who bear such tattoos.

Patrick Sheridan said...

It's funny what you say about iconoclasm and aversion to icons/images, father, because the Church of England, by law established, seems to have, by some art, preserved their churches in the last 45 years where the Romans have not.

Peter said...

In our society that is increasingly hostile to Christianity do we not have a duty to proclaim the faith by actions such as wearing a cross: CCC2471 and the following paragraphs?
It seems to me that in stating that there is no right to wear a cross there is only a short step to saying that one is forbidden to wear a cross. No "right" is breached and offence to Dawkins and friends is avoided.
So I wonder if bearing witness might not now require us to wear a cross.
Now if the Bishops required us to wear a cross on Fridays that would be interesting.

TRAD DAD said...

The big difference is that our separated brethren wear crosses - we wear Crucifixes which are Sacramentals .
Pax et bonum , from Our Lady`s Land of the Southern Cross .

Pétrus said...


You do know the churches preserved by the Church of England are in fact by and large our (Catholic) churches?

Lynda said...

Of course, employees have a right to wear unobstrusive crucifixes while at work. And just because Dr William's cross may be for him a decoration, doesn't mean the crucifix isn't a holy object in itself and worn as such by people of faith.

Pablo the Mexican said...

I wear a Saint Benedict Crucifix (3 inch size) on the outside of my shirt where ever I go.

I wear it for the same reason you do yours, Padre.

Sometimes I have to remind American Liberals it is not a decoration.

It opens the door to those that want to know more about our Divine Master, and lets those afraid to speak up either out of fear or being thought a fool to ask me questions of the Faith, or tell me of graces the Lord has bestowed.

When a Faithful sees a Priest with his crucifix, by the type of crucifix he wears, that soul knows what type of Priest he is standing before.


Gigi said...

Hmmm. I've seen an Orthodox priest wearing a similar "panagia" to Dr Williams' one, but he was wearing a crucifix as well.
I've seen the Archbishop of Canterbury's comments:“The cross has become a religious decoration” and that we should resist being involved in "the religion factory". I strongly dislike the pop-culture use / abuse of crucifixes and rosaries by goths and wannabe-Madonnas, but I don't accept his suggestion that even religious folk hang on to their crosses as a substitute for faith. Very insulting.
I like to wear a cross, if not a crucifix, everyday; certainly for mass and holy days. Yes I have more than one. Yes some are very beautiful, though not necessarily large or ornate. I even asked a friend to buy me a cross I had seen this year for my birthday, rather than gift vouchers or CDs. Does this mean I've relegated the cross to decoration or mere jewellery? I don't believe so, because it's clearly a "symbol" that I've chosen to wear which says something about who I am and what I have faith in, immediately.
I also feel close to God and His protection when I wear a cross; again, I don't believe that the majority of people who feel this kind of protection are substituting it for their faith, or simply being superstitious.

laudator temporis acti said...

According to Scripture God does not look on the outward appearance. As the old proverb says, Cucullus non facit monachum.

worcester fragment said...

You've done it now.... Rowan's so upset he's resigned... The power of your blog!

gemoftheocean said...

On a lighter note, Fr. Blake, I think you may find this twitter HM_Queen rather interesting. Fortunately when I saw it earlier today I was not drinking milk, because if I had been I'd have snorted an entire cow through my nostrils.

JARay said...

I do remember back in the very early days of Vatican II, that quite a few men took to wearing a tiny cross on the lapels of their jackets. That seems to have gone now ....and the jackets are less too!
I used to have one but I cannot find it anywhere!
Then priests stopped wearing roman collars and put similar crosses on their jackets (if they wore one) and on their shirt collars if they had no jacket. So these little crosses must still be available somewhere. the only problem might be in being taken for a priest!!!!

Martin Bridge said...

Dear Fr Ray

I'm rather appalled by your, yes, bigoted & idiotic comment on Rowan Williams. Dr Williams is a very holy man, who is also one of the most respected, learned, academic theologians today. Dr Williams was referring to the "kool-pop" useage of Christian crosses etc as secular decoration: not demeaning his own or others profound Christian belief in the faith! Yet what do I hear from you? - snide comments about RW not being a real 'bishop'*(a snipe at Anglican orders, no doubt) in addition to questioning Dr William's own sincerity re. wearing his Orthodox icon - no doubt a gift from some eastern prelate (and one far more enlightened than yourself.) *PS. Dr Williams also wears an episcopal ring..given to Michael Ramsey by Pope Paul 6th.

'RC' - thankfully, not at your church!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Yes, yet another statement by him open to misinterpretation and ambiguity, his tenure seems to have had many.
I am not questioning his sincerity, merely his understanding of what such things mean, again it is about ambiguity.
I suppose he might see it as creating a "broad Church", others might understand it as creating confusion, a preference for "unity rather than clarity".

David said...

JARay - lots of such crosses at St Pauls Bookshop by Westminster Cathedral. (At between £1.55 and £3.25 I think - various designs.) I have taken to wearing one - we need to be seen and must be proud to be seen. No-one has mistaken me for a priest yet! I'll report if they do.

Lynda said...

Fr Ray: There can be no unity without clarity! There can be no unity without truth.

Fr Ray Blake said...


John Nolan said...

Whatever it is that Dr Williams is wearing, it is quite clearly surmounted by a crown, and not just any crown, but the official form of the English crown in use since the beginning of the present Queen's reign. So there must be a royal connection somewhere.

Pablo the Mexican said...

"...I'm rather appalled by your, yes, bigoted & idiotic comment on Rowan Williams. Dr Williams is a very holy man, who is also one of the most respected, learned, academic theologians today..."

'Dumber than a sack of rocks'

That is a saying in the Southwest where Cowboys, Vaqueros, and Injuns live.

Were this so-called leader truly any of the above, he would strip off all the Priestly garments and fall on his face begging God's forgiveness for being a heretic.

People have so little respect for Priests that they are willing to raise any monkey with the price of a cheap suit to alter-Christus status.

Pray for the ignorant, but admonish the heretic...


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