It may be that there are some well-disposed followers who draw back because they cannot accept the morbidity that the idea of the cross seems to connote. They are lovers of the sun and find it too hard to think of living always in the shadows. They do not wish to dwell with death nor to live forever in an atmosphere of dying. And their instinct is sound. The Church has made altogether too much of deathbed scenes and churchyards and funerals. The musty smell of churches, the slow and solemn step of the minister, the subdued quiet of the worshipers and the fact that many enter a church only to pay their last respect to the dead, all add up to the notion that religion is something to be dreaded, and like a major operation, suffered only because we are caught in a crisis and dare not avoid it.
All this is not the religion of the cross; it is rather a gross parody on it. Churchyard Christianity, though not even remotely related to the doctrine of the cross, may yet be partly to blame for the appearance of the new and jolly cross of today. Men crave life, but when they are told that life comes by the cross they cannot understand how it can be, for they have learned to associate with the cross such typical images as memorial placques, dim-lit aisles and ivy. So they reject the true message of the cross and with that message they reject the only hope of life known to the sons of men.
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I do the world. Galatians 6:14
Churchyard Christianity, though not even remotely related to the doctrine of the cross, may yet be partly to blame for the appearance of the new and jolly cross of today.
Let us never reject the true message of the cross, Holy Father. For only in that cross is life eternal.