Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sign of the Cross...for Protestants

I read this article at Christianity Today's website (The Shape of Faith) and I was pleasantly surprised.

First I'v got to give Carl Olson's website Insight Scoop a plug since it was his blog that brought this to my attention. It's a great sight and is a daily visit on my 'coffee-in-the-morning' list.
Anyway, do you find yourself sheepishly making the sign of the cross as you say grace in a restaurant? While saying the rosary in the car, do you sign yourself and notice the person in the car next to you giving you an odd look.

You could almost read his/her thoughts, "Oh... a Catholic"

Well this article was kind of inspirational to me. The article is, if you haven't already guessed, on signing one self or making the sign of the cross.

"In all our travels and movements, in all our coming in and going out, in putting on our shoes, at the bath, at the table, in lighting our candles, in lying down, in sitting down, whatever employment occupies us, we mark our foreheads with the sign of the cross," wrote Tertullian at the turn of the third century, A.D. In the fourth century, St. John Chrysostom (apparently anticipating an American Express slogan) wrote, "never leave home without making the sign of the cross."

...More importantly, the sign of the cross is a lesson in discipleship. As Andreopoulos, from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, and Ghezzi, from a Roman Catholic perspective, both show, making sign of the cross is a powerful act of daily prayer, dedication, and remembrance. Ghezzi writes that at its heart, the sign of the cross is "a simple gesture and … a simple prayer."

Wow, I usually don't get a positive response making the sign of the cross. The article has a little history lesson on the origin of the sign of the cross and it ends with a pleasant thought.

"... this previously ignorant Protestant, for one, has decided to introduce the sign of the cross into his daily prayer, as a link with the early church, a sign of God's claim on me, and a reminder of the mystery of the Trinity."

... and a wake up call to us Catholics.

"Whether we practice it or not, the sign of the cross is one manifestation of how physical—how embodied—worship really is. It can be as simple as raising our hands during a praise song, sitting up straight when the first few chords of a hymn are struck, or closing our eyes and folding our hands to pray. All of these motions have become ingrained in our body language of worship. Like the sign of the cross, they contain great potential for physical demonstration and remembrance of a deeper meaning—and also great potential for becoming so routine that eventually we do them out of mere habit—or worse, for show.

From centuries ago, Chrysostom admonishes us to mean what we do. "You should not just trace the cross with your finger," he wrote, "but you should do it in faith."

No more sheepish signing. Sign yourself faith.

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