By Amber Kinloch
Have you ever thought about why Catholics make the Sign of the Cross so often? Too many times, we do it sloppily. We rush through the movement, perhaps not touching the correct points (forehead, chest, left and right shoulders), as we mumble the Trinitarian formula.
This shouldn’t be. The Sign of the Cross is a simple but powerful prayer and a sacramental (a holy thing or action by which we obtain spiritual and temporal favors from God). Here are 5 reasons why we should make the Sign of the Cross often, and with devotion.
#1: The Sign of the Cross Invokes the Trinity
Each time we make the Sign of the Cross, we call to mind the Holy Trinity and the Presence of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is tremendous. The truth of the Trinity is the core teaching of our Faith. Take it away and everything crumbles. It is a mystery of love, and we participate in it, above all, through the presence of the Trinity in our soul in the state of grace.
Despite this, we probably don’t tend to think as much about the individual Persons of the Trinity as we should. Making the Sign of the Cross is a good opportunity to recall all Three and honor Them by reverently invoking Them.
#2: It’s a Source of Power and Protection
You might be familiar with the famous account of the Roman Emperor Constantine going to battle against his foes. He had doubts about whether he would win and, though not a Christian, called upon God. The Sign of the Cross appeared in the sky with the Latin inscription “In Hoc Signo Vinces” — “In This Sign Conquer”. Constantine did.
We, too, sign ourselves with the Cross as a source of protection and strength against the devil and temptations. The Cross, for us, is not a stumbling block or mere foolishness as it was to the Jews and Greeks (1 Corinthians 1:23). It is a source of life.
#3: Physical Gestures Are Part of Our Worship
Man is a creature composed of body and soul. We are not pure spirit or simply spirits trapped in bodies. The body is part of the integral essence of our being.
As such, it matters what we do with it. We cannot worship God just interiorly. It does not conform with our nature. We have to employ the physical. Reverently tracing the Cross upon ourselves is one such way.
#4: It’s a Public Witness to the Faith
Signing yourself with the Cross in public (e.g., when saying grace before a meal) is a public profession of faith. You are saying, “I am a Christian,” with all that this bold claim entails.
This is especially challenging in a world growing ever colder towards God. Opportunities to be mocked and slandered abound. But our Faith is not a private affair. It should be manifest to others. The Sign of the Cross is a powerful and much needed form of witness.
#5: It Helps Us Remember God on the Go
We are often tied up during the day with work and other activities that tend to pull us away from God. It is a constant battle to keep ourselves united to Him through all we do. For this reason, frequent prayer is a necessity. Pausing for three seconds to sign ourselves reverently with the Cross is a good way to call to mind God’s Presence and calm our inner being. Nobody lacks time for this.
For more on this topic, check out the 3 minute video below by Fr. Mike Schmitz! He gives two more wonderful reasons why the Sign of the Cross is so powerful.
Amber writes from the bunker of her living room. There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life. Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.