Saturday, March 2, 2013

Fr. Bakewell Morrison, S.J., "The Sign Of The Cross"

“Why do we Christians so often and so obviously make the Sign of the Cross, and what is the dogma?” And we are seeing something of the efficiency which the Church hopes we will introduce, or increase, in our own usage. We might right now try making the Sign of the Cross on ourselves, first remembering the purifying and cleansing meaning of the salt which has been tinged into the holy water, at its blessing. We first dip our fingers in the blessed and blessing water. Then we make the sign and say the words. Cardinal Newman  has notable verses on the sign.

“Whene’er across this sinful flesh of mine I draw the sacred sign,

All good thoughts stir within me, and renew

Their slumbering strength divine;

Till there springs up a courage high and true to suffer and to do.

And who shall say, but hateful spirits around,

For their brief hour unbound,

Shudder to see, and wail their overthrow?

While on far heathen ground

Some lonely saint hails the fresh odour, though

Its source he cannot know”

(Verses on Various Occasions, xxvii Oxford, 1832).

We can, as we all too well know, grow weary at our prayers. We can become suspicious of vain repetitions, as they may be dubbed. Yet Pius XII so strongly urges us to remember that “progress in the Christian life does not consist in the multiplicity and variety of prayers and exercises of piety, but rather in their helpfulness towards spiritual progress of the faithful and constant growth of the Church universal.” So we may well try to make the simple Sign of the Cross be in a way the first of prayers, and have it spring into luxuriant meaning. Then with this tiny prayer of words and a sign we mightily increase in understanding and so grow in force of will. We do need right constantly to remember: “It is not he that says, ‘Lord, Lord!’ But he that does the will of My Father!” And, if our wills are to be at one with God’s, our intellects are to be rich and well stored from God’s, knowing the faith and hope that is in us, and eager for God’s charity.
Link (here) to the full article by Fr. Bakewell Morrison, S.J. entitled, "I Use the Sign of the Cross"

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