We all know how to make the sign of the cross, right? Yet, do we understand the importance or prominence that simple and easy sacramental should hold in each moment of our day? Often, I admit, I have used this sign respectfully, but superficially, unaware of its full significance. Recently I read The Sign of the Cross: Recovering the Power of the Ancient Prayer by Bert Ghezzi, a free ebook available through Word on Fire. Ancient prayer? I thought it was an opening to and closing of prayer and a symbol of a Christian, but a prayer?! Apparently I didn’t know the full of it.
As a cradle Catholic I was instructed in prayer by my mother. I remember kneeling at my bedside while she knelt beside me teaching me four bedrock prayers of every Catholic – the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and the Act of Contrition – all which began and concluded with the sign of the cross.
In his book, Ghezzi explained the Church calls the sign of the cross a “sacramental”. A sacramental prepares us to receive God’s blessing and helps us to cooperate with it. Every time we make the sign of the cross we invite God into our life, our activity, our whole self. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recommends the ancient practice of consecrating daily life with sacramentals. The easiest and most readily available sacramental is the sign of the cross. This sign raises ordinary activities into regular opportunities for drawing nearer to God.
There are six truths about the sign of the cross that may encourage you to make this sign with greater intent in the future. The sign of the cross is:
- An act of faith that brings us into God’s presence
- A way to renew our Baptism
- An affirmation of our decision to follow Christ
- A decision to accept our share in Christ’s suffering
- A defense against the devil
- A means to overcome our faults and grow in likeness to Christ
Making the sign of the cross frequently reaffirms our faith in God and renews our commitment to follow Him. When we were baptized, Christ claimed us; the cross was made on our foreheads, our lips and our chest. We re-assert the decision made by our parents and Godparents for us at our baptism to participate in Christ’s suffering by offering each day to God through this sign. By making the sign of the cross frequently throughout our day, we clothe ourselves with God’s armor and are provided with His divine protection. We ask for strength to fight against our frailties and grow in grace.
Often during staff meetings and other professional development opportunities at school, Mr. Boren encourages us teachers to pray, reminding us that our most important subject is faith in God, and without Him all our efforts are weak. Now that I have a more meaningful understanding of the sign of the cross and the truths we pray, I am able to better keep the practice of our Lord’s presence throughout the day. In the Name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. Amen.
AUTHOR: Eileen Ford, Kindergarten Assistant Teacher