This blog's mission is simple--to encourage moms who are married to non-Catholics and raising their children in the Faith. If you know a mom who needs a little encouragement in continuing her efforts, I would be delighted if you would share Kathleen's Catholic with her. Thank you!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why Do Catholics Bless Themselves With The Sign of the Cross?

by Kathleen Blease

It's purely Catholic, isn't it, blessing yourself with The Sign of the Cross?

One day I was watching old black-and-white movies of my grandmother enjoying Christmas with her brothers and sisters. My father was still a tiny baby. One by one, the sisters lined one side of the holiday table. The movie was silent but I could easily guess what was about to happen. Smiles and giggles changed to calm. And then all at once, with the camera focused on them, the girls in unison cast down their eyes and made The Sign of the Cross.

"In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts,
which we are about to receive
from Thy bounty
through Christ Our Lord, Amen."

Some might wonder: Just what is The Sign of the Cross?

It is also known as the sign of our salvation. It's a tiny prayer, but it is a complete statement of what we believe, no more and no less. In fact, it's the abbreviation of the Apostle's Creed.

When we touch our forehead, we say "I believe in the Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth."

When we touch our heart, we say, "I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son Our Lord." He is our salvation. He is truly present in the Eucharist.

And when we touch our shoulders, we say, "I believe in the Holy Spirit." By the power of the Holy Spirit our Church was formed and is now present. Christ was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit; by the power of the Holy Spirit bread and wine were (and still are) turned into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ; and finally our Church was born by the power of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

What we believe (our Creed) is then combined with the Cross, through which Christ gave us everlasting life. What was once a symbol of humiliation and shame is now a symbol of hope and redemption. And so the Creed and the Cross are put together. Traced over our minds and hearts, they form a sign that states who we are as Christians, what we believe, and who we follow.

By itself, The Sign of the Cross is a powerful prayer. Sometimes we can put all other prayers aside and just sit quietly, make The Sign of the Cross and consider what it means, what the Creed means, and how (or if) we embrace it through our words and actions in our daily lives. This can be very humbling. And by tracing the cross, we can also consider how we carry our own cross: with acceptance and joy? Again...humbling.

Sometimes it is my favorite prayer.  Sometimes it's the only one I can muster. It's a quiet contemplation under the Cross.  And it goes with me wherever I go. No matter where I am, the Sign of the Cross is with me!

God bless!

Please help: Kathleen's Catholic is devoted to encouraging mothers who are married to non-Catholics yet raising their children in the faith. Young mothers and wives, in particular, struggle in this effort and often need help in learning about their own faith as well. If you know a mom who needs the encouragement, please share this post with her. We would be most grateful!

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