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Monday, January 15, 2007

The Sign of the Cross

A week from Wednesday I'll be giving a talk to the RCIA class on Catholic customs, sacramentals, etc., and I plan to discuss where the Sign of the Cross (whichwe all make as an automatic gesture) comes from.

My talk will likely focus on the historical, but we all need to understand and CONVEY the true meaning to others as a witness to our Faith. This is the best explanation I have ever read:

from "Sacred Signs" by Romano Guardini, C 1956via the EWTN online Library

WHEN we cross ourselves, let it be with a real sign of the cross.Instead of a small cramped gesture that gives no notion of itsmeaning, let us make a large unhurried sign, from forehead tobreast, from shoulder to shoulder, consciously feeling how itincludes the whole of us, our thoughts, our attitudes, our bodyand soul, every part of us at once. how it consecrates and sanctifies us.

It does so because it is the Sign of the universe and the sign ofour redemption. On the cross Christ redeemed mankind. By the cross he sanctifies man to the last shred and fibre of his being. We make the sign of the cross before we pray to collect andcompose ourselves and to fix our minds and hearts and wills upon God. We make it when we finish praying in order that we may holdfast the gift we have received from God. In temptations we sign ourselves to be strengthened; in dangers, to be protected. The cross is signed upon us in blessings in order that the fulness of God's life may flow into the soul and fructify and sanctify us wholly.

Think of these things when you make the sign of the cross. It is the holiest of all signs. Make a large cross, taking time,thinking what you do. Let it take in your whole being,--body,soul, mind, will, thoughts, feelings, your doing and not-doing,--and by signing it with the cross strengthen and consecrate the whole in the strength of Christ, in the name of the triune God.

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Te Deum Laudamus!
via Mulier-Fortis via Father Longnecker

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