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 on the 14th day of September. Much of that information is available online. However, consistent with the style 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.
The Sign of the Cross is a religious gesture of touching the forehead and 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. It’s a powerful sign of Christian witness. It’s also a powerful prayer.
When we are doing the Sign of the Cross, we are declaring in whom we trust and who is our ultimate security. We are professing our faith, as well as testifying to others our identity as people who belong 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 wood. The crossed wood has no blessing for anyone. 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 our life aren’t in vain. Victory is assured.
Scripture says, “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 witness to Christian faith. Such a witness 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. For believers, the Sign of the Cross is one of the marks of the sign of faith. When you do the sign of the cross, you mark yourself spiritually as God’s own son or daughter.
It is a good thing 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. “In this sign [the cross] you will conquer” (In hoc signo vinces). Amen.
God love you. God bless.
Fr. Maurice Emelu.
[September 14, Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
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.