What does The Sign of the Cross mean to us anymore? Sometimes it seems as if it has just become another routine that we do every time we say a pray or walk into church. Just a little arm exercise to add to the lunges we do before we enter the pews. Why is this? Why is it that one of the most important prayers has just become another motion that we do to hopefully help get us to Heaven even if we don’t take time to understand what we are doing? Most of us were taught to do it at a young age and have forgotten why. Some people don’t even say the worlds and just make the motion, forgetting the true meaning of this prayer. I was recently wondering why this was turning into just a motion for me and where had the spiritual aspect gone.
I think the answer is in the words I was saying. So often when making the sign of the cross I am not even paying attention and all I am saying is ‘the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.’ I have been leaving out ‘In the name of.’ Does that really make that much of a difference you might ask? I think it does. Without these four words I am simply relaying that God is one in three; which don’t get me wrong, this belief is a huge part of our faith, but those four words add so much more. ‘In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.’ When I say this prayer, I am saying: everything I am about to do is in your name Lord; everything I say is honoring you; every move I make, I am doing it in your name and through my actions everyone should know that I do everything for Christ. Do you feel this way when you make The Sign of the Cross? Every time you walk into mass and dip your hand into the holy water, are you saying ‘Lord, take over my life, fill my heart while I am here at Mass and when I leave, and may all my actions represent your love’? I need to focus on slowing down when I say this prayer and reflect upon if I am being honest when professing that my actions represent all that God stands for.
I think another important thing we need to look at is the action that we are making. We draw a cross across our body to represent so much more than we often reflect upon. This website gives descriptions of different reasons for this action and a few really caught my attention:
Through this symbol we are recognizing all that Christ did for us when he died on the cross. We recognize that we have the hope of eternal life because of what happened on that cross. We are also accepting that while on Earth we all have our own crosses to bear and we are all willing to do so, just as Christ suffered upon the cross for us. When we add in the words, ‘In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit,’ we are saying that we will carry these personal crosses to represent our love for God and to offer up all our trials and tribulations to Him.
It is also a sign that from Christ dying on the cross, the devil did not win; instead he was defeated by Jesus laying down his life for us. Every time we make the Sign of the Cross we are causing the devil to cower in fear and run the other way because of our faith in Jesus Christ. When we speak these words and trace the cross over our bodies, we are reclaiming our bodies for Christ by saying that we reject bodily desires and temptations and want to live our lives ‘in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.’