The sign of the Cross
13 Σεπτεμβρίου 2009
The symbol of Christian faith has ever been and always will be the Cross, for it is the sign of our redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ who came to earth to suffer for us and was crucified upon the Cross. When we wish to show that something is dedicated to Christ, we mark it with a Cross. The Cross is placed on church buildings, on the Holy Gospel, on banners, on the graves of the departed. When we join the three fingers of our right hand together, it is as if we wanted to say: “I believe in God, One in the Trinity; in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; not in one person, but Three Persons; not in three gods, but One God.” When we bend the other two fingers of our right hand down to the palm it is as if we were saying: “I believe that our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is at the same time Real God and Real man – the God-man – came down to earth for our salvation. “As we make the sign of the Cross, we say the following prayer:
“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”, with which we clearly indicate that we belong to God and serve Him alone. God is always near us, because He is everywhere. He always sees us, just as He sees everything. But during prayer, we are especially close to God: we stand before Him, speak to Him and He listens to us. Because of this, while praying, we sign ourselves with the Cross more often, especially before and after each prayer. We also make the Cross upon ourselves when we enter church, approach a sacred object or kiss an icon, and many times during church services. We should make the sign of the Cross in the morning to obtain God’s blessing on the day; in the evening to ask for His protection during the night; at all the important moments of our life: when in danger, in sorrow, in joy; before all important undertakings that they may turn out well; at mealtime to invoke God’s blessing and to give Him thanks. We must never make the sign of the Cross hurriedly and carelessly. To those who cross themselves in a hurry, without due deliberation, or who simply wave their hand fanning their breast, St John Chrysostom says: “the demons rejoice in this frantic waving.” On the other hand, the Cross traced correctly, with faith and reverence, dispels demons, calms sinful passions, attracts Divine Grace and gives us the strength to do good. We must never be ashamed of the sign of the Cross lest Christ be ashamed of us. We are assured by Christians of all ages, but especially by those of the first centuries, that we have at our command a very powerful weapon: the sign of the Cross. Therefore, it is much to be regretted that we do not make better use of it in our times. Never did the world array before the children of God enemies so numerous or so insidious as at the present time. They assail him an every side, not only with sword and fire, but with false philosophies, with pride of intellect, with religious indifference, with materialism, with commodity. It is more difficult for us to combat these enemies for a lifetime, than it was for early Christians to gain a martyr’s glory in a momentary struggle in the amphitheater. If, for the first Christians, trained in the school of apostles and their immediate successors, the frequent use of the sign of the Cross was so necessary, is it not also indispensable to us? Let us then follow the pious custom of our fathers in the Faith and make the sign of the Cross more frequently.