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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Sign of the Cross

How many times have you seen people use the sign of the cross? It's quite a common occurrence. People invoke the sign of the cross before boarding a plane, before stepping into a boxing ring, before that all-important field goal kick. I'm sure you can name many more times. Usually, it seems to me, it's an act performed at a time when the individual is asking God for help or protection.

But, how many realize the power of the prayer? From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2157):

"The Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the Sign of the Cross: “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The baptized person dedicates the day to the glory of God and calls on the Savior’s grace which lets him act in the Spirit as a child of the Father. The sign of the cross strengthens us in temptations and difficulties."

So, when you make the sign of the cross, and say the prayer, you ARE calling on God. You are offering your actions, prayers, life, yourself to God. This is the type of offering God wants. He does not want sacrifices of bulls or goats, but sacrifices of thanksgiving (Psalm 50:9,14).

Also, notice that the prayer begins: In the NAME of the Father...  The singular NAME is used, not the plural Names. There is only one God, made up of three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This prayer declares and affirms one's belief in one God, made up of three persons.

Again from the Catechism (253):

"The sign of the cross, on the threshold of the celebration, marks with the imprint of Christ the one who is going to belong to him and signifies the grace of the redemption Christ won for us by his cross."

So, it marks the person as belonging to Christ, and as being one with Christ. It celebrates Christ's victory over sin and death, by his death and resurrection. How great are these words! How much power, and grace!  

References

Catechism of the Catholic Church Second Edition, 2157
The New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE), Psalm 50
Catechism of the Catholic Church Second Edition, 253