In the Voice of Moreau: Human beings are natural sign-readers. Desperate to communicate, we are constantly reading situations, facial expressions, tones of voice, gestures, the placement of things, the organization of a room, the way a person dresses, and the like. What did she mean when she texted me that particular emoji? What did he mean when he ended the conversation with a hug? We drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out the meaning of it all! What makes the Cross unique among the entire array of signs is that its meaning is absolutely certain. What is happening upon the Cross is an explicit and emphatic NO TO SELF. The Cross does not invite speculation nor confusion of any kind. The death of our Lord is final, definite and certain. The NO TO SELF is a stable category, a point of reference that can be trusted and built off of. Whereas other signs and their meanings are constantly in flux, by both giver and receiver, the Cross offers a firm footing on which we are able to stand confidently and finally receive ultimate meaning from the one true God. This is why the Cross is Good News! Let us therefore stop searching for meaning and truth in all of the wrong places. Let us refuse to dabble in false signs that cunningly and variously lead us back into the trap of self. Let us instead adopt the great NO TO SELF as our one and only guide on the journey. Ave Crux Spes Unica!
Holy Cross Educator’s Reply: The cross is an emphatic NO TO SELF. In 1935, T. S. Eliot wrote the play Murder in the Cathedral that portrays the assassination of Archbishop Thomas á Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Like Jesus in the desert, Becket is confronted by tempters who want to reroute him from Heaven’s gate. The three tempters offer him physical safety, fame and unparalleled power. Becket resists. Thinking his way to Heaven now clear, he is confronted by a last unanticipated tempter who encourages Becket to seek the glory of martyrdom. “Seek the way of martyrdom, make yourself the lowest / On earth, to be high in heaven.” Becket addresses this immorality: “Others offered real goods, worthless / But real. You only offer / Dreams to damnation.” The Archbishop famously concludes: “The last temptation is the greatest treason: / To do the right deed for the wrong reason.” Throughout the world there is desperation for any signs that we are acceptable—worthy of notice—worthy of love. With the many means of technological communication in our hands so many want instantaneous and continuous validation. Most of us have unspoken insecurities concerning our worthiness and goodness, so we wantonly clad our bodies and souls in masks: makeup, sexual enhancers, money to throw around when we have little. Perhaps with these signs we will be loved. The good news of the Cross is, rather, that we are loved when these mundane trappings have been stripped away, and we stand broken in front of our broken yet triumphant Redeemer. CSC educators must offer students every opportunity to flee the treason of looking for love in all the wrong places. In order to be high in Heaven all of us need to reach out to others from a position of NO TO SELF. What a great gift we can give to each other for all ages. Ave Crux Spes Unica!