Holy Cross Be My Light

It has been well over a year, maybe two, since I started wearing a wearing a small crucifix on a chain around my next. I wanted it close to my heart, so I wore it underneath my shirt.

[St. Benedict Medal]

Sometime after Christmas, I added a St. Benedict’s medal to the chain. (Technically, it is referred to as the Jubilee Medal of 1880 because that is when it was first struck.) It is attached to the same link as the crucifix and lays behind the cross as I wear it. It looks very much like the all-in-one St. Benedict Crucifix but with two separate pieces.

I was drawn to the St. Benedict medal not so much for a devotion to St. Benedict. I deeply respect St. Benedict and the monastic tradition the Spirit started through him. Here in Oklahoma, the spirituality of the Benedictines have a very strong presence. I choose this medal, or it choose me, for the prayer inscribed within the cross. The letters in the cross are the first letters of words in Latin.

Crux Sacra sit mihi lux
Holy Cross be my light

Nunquam draco sit mihi dux
Never the dragon be my lead

The first line is what really captured my attention. The second line is just bonus as with the other inscriptions on the medal (especially the word pax (peace) at the top). In addition, the Latin word sit is the verb “to be”, and it sits (no pun intended) in the very center of the cross. To be in Christ, to be in the Cross, to be—to exist is the gift from God.

C.S.S.M.L. is a signpost for me. I know the signpost is written in Latin, but I never think about the words in Latin, always in English. I am not sure what this says about me. Do I need a signpost in one language pointing to another signpost in my native language to point me where I should follow? Am I going to focus on the signpost, or toward what—or Who—it points?

Clothes readily identify a cleric or a monastic as devoted to Jesus, but what does a a lay person wear? So sometime in the early spring, I decided to start wearing the crucifix and medal outside of my shirt. It was still close to my heart, but I felt the urge to make a statement to all who see me. I am a Christian; the Cross is my light and my lead.

At first I was a little nervous to wear it outside of my clothing. Some of it was due to the fear of what someone might say or think of me. It was not so much as, “Gee, I didn’t know you were a Christian?” It was more of a fear that I may be less approachable as a person, as if I was no longer struggling with temptation and sin like everyone else. Sheesh! If they only knew. The other fear is can I ignore the illusions in my mind, and in the minds of others, of what it means to be “labeled” a Christian and just simply be? I don’t always fit the stereotype for anything. As a priest recently said, “Whatever baby!”

Thank you Saint Benedict for the prayer. Pray for us.