The Sign of the Cross
By Ann D'Arcy (Jul 18, 2011)
So many times the prayers I'm saying begin with the sign of the cross. When alone, I had formed the habit of speaking the words but not going through the familiar motion. We are all so familiar with the act of touching the forehead, heart, and each shoulder, first the left and then the right, with our right hand; as we say, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Recently, I decided to work at being more focused during prayer. I have a list of people for whom I pray each day, for instance. I realized I was reading the names off my list as though I were taking attendance. So, I began pausing as I said each name, calling the person to mind, and thinking of a specific blessing for them — improved health, easing of stress, a closer relationship with a loved one, etc.
A few days after beginning this, it seemed God was telling me I should also make the sign of the cross as well. The first few times I did it, I have to admit it brought a certainty that it was the right thing to do. It prompted meditation on the act itself.
Now, as I touch my forehead and say, "In the name of the Father," I think of God the Father as divine intelligence: a God who promises me wisdom, if I but seek it.
As I touch my heart and say, "and the Son," I think of Jesus and the love He made manifest to us during His stay on earth. He took compassion on them, had the 5,000 seat themselves, blessed, broke and distributed the bread. He wept when He approached Lazarus' grave. He lived and taught mercy. He didn't condemn the prostitute or the Samaritan woman He met at the well; He only asked them to go and sin no more. He died in agony, begging His Father in heaven to forgive those who crucified Him. I pause with my hand over my heart asking Jesus to bathe me in His divine mercy, and to give me the grace to show His mercy to those who hurt me.
As I touch my shoulders, left and then right, I call on the name of the Holy Spirit — the Spirit that Christ promised would come to us if only we open ourselves to receive. I think of how my shoulders enable me to use my arms and hands to express love. I wrap my arms around others, giving comfort, solace, and expressing my love for them. I use my hands to meet others' needs.
As a wife and mother, how many times a day do I use my arms and hands in service to my husband and family? Preparing meals, cleaning house, comforting, lifting, supporting, are all made possible by the free motion of my shoulders. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide my acts throughout the day, helping me to give expression of God's love in the world, to make my work holy.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, consecrate my work, my being, all I am and all I do this day.
Ann D'Arcy lives in Northville, Mich.