Archive for the ‘Sign of the Cross’ Category

September 6th

August 28, 2009

In my article last week, I mentioned the importance of being aware of what it is that we are doing at Mass.  The Second Vatican Council emphasized this very thing when it talked about the importance of “active participation” at the Mass for all of the faithful.  (cf. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #14ff.)  This “active participation” that the Council recommended is not mere external activity.  All of us are called to actively participate at Mass, whether we are lectors, cantors, or in the pew.  The “active participation” that the Council called for at Mass is first and foremost an internal focus and participation in the prayers of the Mass.  (cf. ibid. #19)

After often repeating a prayer or an action (e.g. the “Sign of the Cross”) it is easy to say the words or perform the action without giving a second thought as to what the words or the action actually means.

Converts, oftentimes are overwhelmed at first by the many things that we, who have been Catholics for a long time, take for granted: “Why do you dip your fingers into that water when you enter the Church?”  It is good to remind ourselves, from time to time, why we do what we do.  It is important to do what we do with attention, and not unthinkingly.  The more effort we make to be attentive, the more we will get out of these actions.

When we first arrive in the Church, most of us take some holy water and make the Sign of the Cross.  This is a praiseworthy practice, but why do we do it?  The holy water is there to remind us of our Baptism.  It was through our Baptism that we were washed of our sins and became children of God and members of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.

The Sign of the Cross is a prayer, which is accompanied by an action.  Tracing the Sign of the Cross over ourselves reminds us that Christ died upon the Cross in order to save us from our sins, and by making the Sign of the Cross with holy water we remind ourselves that the merits that Christ won for us upon the Cross wiped our sins away when we were baptized with water and the Holy Spirit.

While we make the Sign of the Cross we also invoke the Name of the Holy Trinity.  This is also reminiscent of our Baptism, for we were all baptized “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The Sign of the Cross is a prayer that should call to our minds the two most important Truths of our Faith: that God is One in Three Persons, and that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became a man and died upon the Cross to save us from sin and death.

When we make the Sign of the Cross, there are several things upon which we can meditate.  While praying the Sign of the Cross, we can make an act of faith, calling to mind Who God Is (a Trinity of Persons).  We can remind ourselves what God has done for us (Jesus redeemed us by His death upon the Cross), and that should inspire gratitude within our hearts.  We can also call to mind that we are His children through Baptism, which should also inspire our hearts to a greater love for our Heavenly Father, Who has given us so many gifts, one of the greatest of which is our Faith.

Let us try our best to make the Sign of the Cross with attention and devotion and use it, together with the holy water provided near the entrance, as a means to help us prepare ourselves as we enter into the Church and prepare to receive our Lord and our God at Mass.

God bless,

Father White

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