I’ve still been thinking about Rich Mullins and the quote that I used in my last article.
“… My openness to Catholicism was very scary to me because, when you grow up in a church where they don’t even put up a cross, many things were foreign to me.” — — Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven, p. 46
I kept thinking about how I could relate to this observation. The church I grew up in — where I was baptised — was very simple and unadorned. The baptismal is behind the choir loft — there is a big mural of a river and trees. There is the pulpit and the “remembrance table.” Were it not for the baptismal pool, remembrance table and church pews, it could have been any court house or music hall. My childhood Bible had a page that showed pictures of all different kinds of Christian symbols. The crosses — Coptic, Maltese, budded, anchor, Peter, — Peter, wow. I’m looking at it now. I do have the cross of Peter — upside down with keys. There is no cross of crucifixion — the one associated with Catholic churches. When we celebrated the Lord’s Supper and heard the words, “This is my body….. This is my blood,” I imagined being at the crucifixion.
My first encounter with the body of Christ, on the cross, was the first time I entered a Catholic church. I wrote about that in my reflection on Sacred Heart. My next encounters were a few years later on my first trip to Italy. After that, it was in my own parish where I attended my first Mass. I’ve heard it said that the “empty cross” is the cross of the resurrection. We celebrate Christ is risen. I’ve seen the cross of the resurrection in Catholic churches — Jesus is still on it — a resurrected figure of Christ. I am fully convinced that you cannot celebrate the resurrection without first meditating on the suffering and crucifixion. Many of the things that once seemed foreign to me are now a source of great comfort — reminders of God’s love for me.
I have posted a Rich Mullins tribute video by Caedmon’s Call. They perform his song Hope to Carry On. The song begins with “I can see Jesus — hanging on the cross, I can see Jesus — hanging on the cross, I can see Jesus — hanging on the cross — He came looking for the lost — and Love has come — Love has come — And he’s given me hope to carry on.” The video is interspersed with images of the band with Rich and concludes with their reflections on how he inspired them.