Fr. Kurian KollapallilThis Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. St. Paul writes about the redemptive significance of the cross in 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” We celebrate the feast of the exaltation of the Cross to recall the Love of God shown in the vicarious suffering and death of Jesus for our salvation. We revere the instrument by which Jesus Christ, Our Lord, saved us. Once understood as an object of scorn and shame, now the cross has become for us the sign of glory.
‘Cross’ symbols and signs we find everywhere, in itself it has no power, but signs and symbols made use in religious ceremonies becomes the means to extend the power of God without being attached to the signs or figures. We have many examples in the Bible like: “Moses touching the rock with his staff (Exodus 17:6), Elisha striking the water with Elijah’s coat (2Kings 2:14), the sick having recourse to St. Peter’s shadow (Acts 5:15) or to the robe of Our Lord (Matthew 14:36).” The sign of the cross or a crucifix is a mark of the Christianity, identity of a Christian and he or she receives the grace of God from the passion of Christ, which is also called the exaltation of Christ.
The Cross because of what it represents is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. We sign ourselves with the sign of the cross as we begin and end our prayers and as we enter and leave church. Each time we remember the Promise of God, who will always be faithful and part of our life’s journey.
St. Francis de Sales explains why we make the sign of the cross or rather teaches how to make the sign of the cross. “We use our right hand, because it is the more worthy of the two. With our right hand, we use either three fingers to represent the Trinity or five fingers to represent Jesus’ five wounds. We begin the prayer by placing our right hand on our forehead to acknowledge that God the Father is the one from whom all things originate. Next, we move our hand down to our stomach as a sign that Jesus proceeded from the Father. Lastly, we cross ourselves from left shoulder to right shoulder to show that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son and that He is the bond of love between Father and Son. Let that information sink in, and reflect on it going forward each time you make the Sign of the Cross.”
“The sign of the cross” is a simple book by St. Francis de Sales published by Sophia press, gives in detail , why we use the sign of the cross, the intention, purpose, advantages, the power and various saints’ vouching upon it. I recommend you to read that simple book that will change altogether your Christian life.
” Whether you sleep or awake, travel or work, eat or drink, sail on the sea or cross a river, cover yourself with this breastplate, clothe yourself with the saving Sign of the Cross, and evils will not meet you.” St. Ephraim.