Embracing the Mystery Behind the Cross and Scrapping the Da Vinci Code
Rev. Fr. Charles Joanides, Ph.D., LMFT
There is a book, and soon to be movie, that has captured the world’s attention called, The Da Vinci Code. This book is a work of fiction, but many are arguing that it is based on certain secrets that have been suppressed for centuries by the Catholic Church. Two of the most provocative claims this book makes is that Jesus was clandestinely married to Mary Magdalene and that they had children.
Of course, for anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of Holy Tradition, these and other similar claims and assumptions are utterly baseless, and are quickly rendered fictitious when compared to what Holy Tradition teaches. Yet, the fact remains that these fabrications have captured the curiosity of countess people, as is witnessed by the 45 million copies of this book - and counting – that have been sold world wide in numerous languages.
As a pastor, therapist and marriage and family specialist, I find the interest this book has generated lamentable. A major reason is because I know that if people were to take the time and energy they invest in understanding the details behind The Da Vinci Code, and put half the amount of time and effort into understanding Christ’s story, their lives, and the lives of their families would reap positive rewards.
Marriage and Family Life is Suffering
The fact is family life is reeling from serious challenges today. The divorce rate remains frighteningly high – somewhere around 40 - 50%. Birth rates among teens continue to hover around the one million mark annually. Teen violence continues to grow, and suicide among teens claims far too many young lives. In addition, the “one flesh” definition of marriage that has undergirded the institution of marriage from our country’s inception is now being called into question. Then again, fatherhood is also seriously undervalued, as are a child’s links to his or her biological parents. These trends are only the tip of the iceberg.
So, here is my question. Given these and other similar trends, why is it that The Da Vinci Code is a best seller, and valued information about Christ’s life from Holy Tradition that can make a difference in people’s lives is often ignored, discredited, misunderstood or challenged? I really do not have the space to address myself to this question in this short article, but what I can say is that controversy related to Christ sells, especially in a society that is increasingly secular and antagonistic toward anything related to Christianity.
And while none of us would quibble with the fact that a free exchange of ideas has value, the fact remains that we can be easily distracted in this market place of ideas from certain information that might otherwise be useful. One good example is related to how many Christians this Paschal season have been distracted by details related to The Da Vinci Code to the detriment of their efforts to embrace the message behind the Holy Cross.
What is Missed?
I suspect that many people who have been distracted by The Da Vinci Code have lost sight of the blessed, good news that Christ died and resurrected some two thousand years ago. Good news that has transformative value for us; good news that provides us with purpose and meaning and significance; good news that can lift us out of the quagmire of spiritual darkness and guide us into God’s light and life; good news that helps us cultivate a relationship with God our Father; good news that comforts us “with peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). For as St. John Chrysostom states in one of his catechetical homilies read at the Resurrection Service, “Christ is risen and life is liberated. Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of the dead; for Christ, having risen from the dead, has become the first fruits of those who fall asleep.”
Some Questions to Ponder
If these observations resonate with you personally, I would like to ask you to consider the following few questions. Which story has impacted your life this Paschal season? Which of these two stories captured your attention? Which story do you know better? When compared to the time you spent considering The Da Vinci Code, how much time did you spend contemplating the meaning of the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior?
I have asked you to consider these questions because the story that has come down to us through Holy Tradition surrounding the Holy Cross and our Lord’s three day burial and Resurrection, is transformative in nature and can make a difference in your life. Conversely, the story behind The Da Vinci Code, however masterfully crafted, may have entertainment value, but has little lasting, redeeming value.
Through an understanding of the story behind Christ’s Holy Cross, as protected through Holy Tradition, God comes into our lives, and we develop a personal relationship with God which changes the way we see the world around us. Moreover, the blessed message behind this story not only has a direct, positive, transformative impact on us; it also has a blessed impact on our marriages, families and our efforts to parent our children.
Mind you now, I am not suggesting that you abstain from reading fiction. What I am suggesting is that you use this recent craze which is sweeping our nation as an opportunity to assess your priorities. So, if The Da Vinci Code distracted you this Paschal season, and if you failed to spend ample time in prayer this Easter contemplating the real meaning of the Cross, do not despair. Christ accepts us at any time. Even now as you are completing this article, He is knocking at the door of your heart seeking entrance. If you let Him in, as Holy Scripture teaches, He will come into your heart, into your marriage and into your family and make a positive difference.
For the bottom line is this, what I have been alluding to in this article has something to do with priorities. What are yours?