Grace to you!
During today’s reflection, I am not going to retell the history of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, celebrated in the Catholic Church and many mainline Protestant Churches today. Much of that information is available online. However, as typical of my reflections, I would share with you a few thoughts, an aspect of its spiritual benefits for believers. So, I want to focus on the Sign of the Cross.
We have many testimonies of faith and evangelization in the heydays of the advent of Christianity in Africa. To this day, there are a few families who practice African traditional religion. We notice or hear stories of people who were saved from the “voodoos” of some native cults by a symbolic expression of the Sign of the Cross.
Many wonder why that sign is so powerful. Why is a simple touching of the forehead by saying or thinking “in the name of the Father;” touching the lower middle of the chest while saying or thinking “and of the Son,” and touching the left and the right shoulders saying “and of the Holy” “Spirit” respectively is so powerful?
When you are doing the Sign of the Cross, you are saying a very powerful prayer. You are declaring in whom you trust and who is your security. In few words, you are professing your faith, as well as testifying to others your identity as one incorporated to the heavenly communion of love – the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Two symbols are represented in the Sign of the Cross. First is the symbol of the cross. It isn’t just any cross, not simply the crossed woods. The crossed woods have no blessing for you. In fact, during the time of Jesus, the crossed wood was a sign of a curse and condemnation (See Galatians 3:13).
It’s when Jesus Christ mounted the crossed wood for our salvation that the cross became a blessing. So, the symbol of the cross with the Christ in it is a rich blessing for you. Looking upon Jesus, contemplating Him hanging on the wood of the cross is salvation. It is hope that the crosses of your life aren’t in vain. Victory is assured.
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14). So, the Sign of the Cross connects us with what Jesus did for us on the cross.
Second is the symbol of the Trinity. While we remember the cross, we equally confess our belief in the Trinitarian God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Certainly, what unites every Christian believer is the Trinity. A Christian is the one who believes in the Trinity, isn’t it? If God is Trinity, then a confession of that fact is a testimonial to Christian faith. Such a testimonial is blessing.
In the spiritual world, the Sign of the Cross wreaks havoc to evil. The devil abhors it and cultists dread it. Exorcists would tell you that many who belong to the demonic receive a sign of ownership on their forehead. In those days when fingerprinting was not yet developed, marks on faces or limbs were used as identifiers. Tattooing grew out of that cultural marking.
For believers, the Sign of the Cross is one of the marks of the sign of faith. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep doing the Sign of the Cross, as you enter the Church, hear holy names; when you bump into danger, afraid and in need of divine help; and when alone, anytime, anywhere. The mere gesture without words says so much and means so much in the spiritual world.
May you and your day be blessed in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
God love you. God bless.
Fr. Maurice Emelu.
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.