Friday, July 31, 2015

Significance of the Sign of the Cross

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“The venerable custom of making the Sign of the Cross over persons and things has, without doubt, its origin from Apostolic times; some even trace it to Christ our Lord Himself who, according to a devout opinion, blessed at His Ascension into heaven the disciples with His hands in the form of a cross.  The very ancient use of the Sign of the Cross is proved from the universal testimony of the Fathers and ecclesiastical writers…
 The sign of the Cross is a symbolical expression of the principal mysteries of Christianity, a confession of the Catholic faith. It reminds us of the Crucified, of the price of our redemption and of the value of our soul; it enkindles love of God, strengthens hope, animates us to follow Christ on the way of the Cross; it indicates that in the Cross we are to find our honor, our salvation and our life; that we should prefer "the folly and weakness of the Cross" to all the wisdom and power of the world, that, as disciples of the Crucified, we should combat under the banner of the Cross and by this sign triumph over all our enemies…
St. Francis de Sales writes on this subject:  "We raise the hand first to the forehead, saying: in the name of the Father', to signify that the Father is the first person of the Most Holy Trinity, of whom the Son is begotten and from whom the Holy Ghost proceeds. Then saying: 'and the Son,' the hand is lowered to the breast, to express that the Son proceeds from the Father, who sent Him down to the womb of the Virgin. Then the hand is moved from the left shoulder or side to the right, while saying: 'and of the Holy Ghost,' thereby signifying that the Holy Ghost, as the third person of the Holy Trinity, proceeds from the Father and the Son, that He is the love that unites both, and that we, through His grace, partake of the fruits of the Passion… Accordingly, the sign of the Cross is a brief declaration of our faith in the three great mysteries: namely, of our faith in the Blessed Trinity, in the Passion of Christ and in the forgiveness of sin, by which we pass from the left side of curse to the right of blessing.

The concluding word Amen has here a two-fold meaning: one side, it expresses his desire that the petitions included and mentioned in signing himself with the sign of the cross may be fulfilled; on the otherhand, it confirms and seals the good intention excited within him by the accompanying words in honor of the Most Holy Trinity.”

Excerpts taken from "The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by Fr. Gihr
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