Catholic Activity: Cross of Victory
To honor Christ's victory over sin and death, place this triumphant cross in your garden or home. Put Easter baskets and gifts underneath it.
We began our Easter customs with a three-foot cross made of oak two-by-fours. Its crossarm is fitted to the upright by screws, so that it can be taken apart for storage. This cross is our Standard of Victory, the banner of Christ the Conqueror. With blessed candles set in holders in the arms, the cross bears a white satin ribbon marked "Alleluia XV." The numerals mean Christ Victorious.
Under the cross our children find their Easter gifts from the risen Savior, eggs scarlet in memory of His Passion, covered with gold or silver, many bearing liturgical symbols. Their chocolate candy comes in shape of a cross, and their Easter toys are lambs, reminders of Christ, the Paschal Lamb. We could not eliminate the bunny, so we used bunnies at the foot of the cross, but with a difference. The rabbit, itself defenseless, became a symbol, as our children grew older of the Christian who, being also defenseless, puts his hope of salvation in the cross. From the start we said that the risen Savior brought our Easter gifts.
The Standard of Victory we used very much as couples do who have a tree and put their baby's first gifts around it. Two years later, we added an Easter garden, which has a tomb (made from paper-mâché shaped and painted to resemble a cave or a shoe box and painted gray) with a garden and flowers, and dolls as tiny Marys, apostles and soldiers. On Easter morning the garden has all the fascination of the Christmas crib as we tell the story of the Resurrection using dolls.
How to Make
By His death on the Cross our Lord overcame our enemy and reopened the gates of heaven. To honor Christ as Victor we set up a three-foot cross in our living room as a Standard of Victory and decorate it. Our cross is made of two pieces of two-by-fours fitted together and held by screws. A ribbon of white satin in two-inch width is marked Alleluia XV (X meaning Christ, and V victorious) and draped over the crossarm. There are holes for blessed candles in the crossarm, and we light blessed candles during prayertime. We set flowers at the base of the cross.
Under it our children find their Easter presents and baskets, much as we place gifts under the tree at Christmas. The cross is used in processions and on feasts of the Holy Cross and of St. Helen.
A country family could perhaps set a cross in the garden with flowers at the base to honor the instrument of our Redemption. We will always remember the stark black wooden cross almost five feet high, decorated by dog-wood, which we have seen set up in a friend's dining room.
In honoring the cross as a Standard of Victory we can explain to the children what we do in the words of the Church who sings in her Office: "Sweet the wood, sweet the nails, sweet the burden which thou bearest: for thou alone wast worthy to bear the King and Lord of Heaven."
Activity Source: Family Customs: Easter to Pentecost by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1956