Cardinal O’Brien exhorts Christians to wear crosses

Cardinal Keith OBrien Credit Mazur CNA US Catholic News 2 27 12 Cardinal Keith P. O'Brien. / Mazur

Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s Easter Sunday homily will call for Christians to make the cross more prominent in their lives and to wear crosses as signs of their desire to love and serve others as Jesus Christ did.

“I hope that increasing numbers of Christians adopt the practice of wearing a cross in a simple and discreet way as a symbol of their beliefs. Easter provides the ideal time to remind ourselves of the centrality of the cross in our Christian faith,” the Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh said in an April 7 statement.

The cardinal will deliver his homily, which was provided in advance to CNA, in Edinburgh’s St. Mary’s Cathedral on Easter, April 8. In it he will reflect on the cross and its role in Christian life.

Easter, the cardinal will say, marks the “Triumph of the Cross” when Jesus “conquered death” and sent his disciples to continue his mission.

His remarks come at a time of controversy over the role of Christianity in U.K. public life. Two British women who were disciplined for wearing a cross at work are taking their case before the European Court of Human Rights, alleging religious discrimination.

While the cardinal does not specifically mention the case, he says the cross should not be a problem for others. Instead, they should see it as an indication of Christians’ desire to love and serve others.

“So often the teachings of Jesus Christ are divided and ignored; so often those who try to live a Christian life are made fun of and ridiculed and marginalized,” the cardinal says in his homily.

“Perhaps the more regular use of that sign of the cross might become an indication of our desire to live close to that same Christ who suffered and died for us, and whose symbol we are proud to bear.”

“Whether on a simple chain or pinned to a lapel, the cross identifies us as disciples of Christ,” he adds.

Cardinal O’Brien will also look at how the cross is evident throughout Christian life.

Christians are baptized with the Sign of the Cross, which is often the first devotion taught to children. Believers begin and end each day by making the sign, and the cross is displayed on the flags of both Scotland and the United Kingdom.

The use of this sign is not a “morbid way of looking back” on Jesus’ sufferings. Instead, it is a sign that Christians are trying to follow “the path set out for us by Christ himself.”

“It was through his sufferings on the cross that he achieved the glory of the Resurrection – a transformation that can have parallels in many of our own lives,” Cardinal O’Brien says.

He also mentions Pope Benedict XVI’s concerns about religion being marginalized, which he made known in London’s Westminster Hall in September 2010. The Pope said that religion is not a problem but a “vital contributor” to the national conversation.

Cardinal O’Brien said these words were a “great clarion call” for Christians to emphasize that no government or public bodies should be “frightened” of Christians but should see them as collaborators.

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