The Use of The Sign Of The Cross In The Catholic Church
The sign of the cross is an important and powerful prayer. It is a holy symbol which is a shield and a sword. It dedicates what you are doing within the name of Jesus. It brings God’s blessing. It might not be a good luck charm, however, it is a sign that claims that you are willing to simply accept the suffering of the Cross. So, whenever you do the sign of the cross, you are affirming your faith in Jesus and your disposition to suffer for Him. It is not simply an action but a prayer in itself, because many of the Christian faithful begin every morning, the moment they awaken, by making that sign which explains it all, even without the need for words.
Therefore, it should be said with reverence and we shouldn’t rush through it. It is highly inappropriate to make the sign of the cross in irreverent or in an insincere fashion.
The sign of the cross however, is a situation whereby a person traces a symbolic cross on their body (touching one’s forehead with a finger or a few, then the chest, then the front of the left shoulder, and finally the front of the right shoulder) or in the air in commemoration of the crucifixion of Christ. It is used in several Christian traditions, but it is most prominent in Catholic and Orthodox tradition.
The sign of the cross represents the triumph of Jesus Christ over death. It is additionally used as a prayer to chase away evil or to bless oneself in a very time of prayer or need. The formal and best way of the sign of the cross is the use of 3 fingers, especially when entering the church. Though, people are generally free to perform the sign as they please so long as the gesture is respectful and offered in the full sincerity of the faith. Because, For Christians, the Cross is not a symbol of pain and death, but of love and life.
Where do we necessarily use the Sign of the Cross?
The manual sign of the Cross is made in so many situations and is both liturgical and devotional. It is used in:
- Use by new Catechumens at the Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults,
- We use it at Mass when it is done by the Priest on the Gospel of the Bible,
- By the Parishioners when they hear the Word of God at Mass (mark is made on the forehead, the lips, and theheart).
- In extreme unction (the ancient Anointment of the Sick) the sign of the cross was made over the sick organ(s)too.
- It is being made over the lips in the “Domine labia mea aperies” of the Divine Office.
- And over the host and chalice after the words of consecration had been made at the Mass, when transubstantiation takes place to change the host and wine to the body and blood of Christ.
- The sign of the Cross is also made when we begin and end our prayers.
- We make it when we enter and leave a church.
- We start each Mass with it.
- We may also do the sign of the cross when we hear the Holy Name of Jesus taken in vain.
- And when we walk through a Catholic church where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the tabernacle.
- It is made in the air with the hand, as a blessing for the faithful, which is reserved for the use of ordained clergy, Bishops.
Still, with the horror of the cross and crucifixion, bearing in mind that Jesus died such a death, Christians chose the cross as a symbol to identify themselves with. It seems certain that, at least from the early Christians, the cross does not represent pain, torture, and death. Rather, it symbolizes God’s love for his people and also the new life we are able to have through Him. Leave it to God to change one thing as ugly as the cross into a gorgeous image of affection and life.