Grace in the Sign of the Cross

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You’re in luck. While my post partum brain struggles to form coherent sentences and present you with anything worth reading, my brilliant husband comes up with insightful beautiful reflections despite being sleep deprived from having a sweet newborn in the house. He is the best. Enjoy!

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Never leave your house without making the sign of the cross. It will be to you a staff, a weapon, an impregnable fortress. Neither man nor demon will dare to attack you, seeing you covered in such powerful armor. Let this sign teach you that you are a soldier, ready to combat against the demons, and ready to fight for the crown of justice. Are you ignorant of what the cross has done? It has vanquished death, destroyed sin, emptied hell, dethroned Satan, and restored the universe. Would you then doubt its power?” – St. John Chrysostom, Fourth century

Before Gwen was born, Haley and I were pretty worried about attending mass with three kids. I had visions of three screaming children, two screaming children and one missing child, or one screaming child and two children working together to dismantle the altar. It hasn’t been as bad as all that. The joyful noise our family makes is a bit noisier. And it’s a little more difficult to pay attention all the time. But it really isn’t that big of a deal.

Last week, as I stood for prayers with a child in each arm, I was still able to awkwardly make the sign of the cross by weaving my hand through flailing limbs to touch my head, my chest, and my shoulders. As I managed to do this without dropping anybody, I realized what I had just done. I hadn’t just made the sign of the cross for myself, I’d made the sign over and around my children as well. I intentionally cross them when I leave for work or put them to bed but, at that moment, I realized I also do it when I hold them during mass.

This would have meant nothing to me when I was a materialist. But, now that I’m Catholic, I recognize that symbols are not “just” symbols. The sign of the cross has real power to protect and strengthen. And, just by going to mass and struggling through the motions, I claim those gifts for myself and for my children. I may not be able to pay attention to the homily or all the words of the prayers, but an abundance of grace is still poured out on our family every time we go to mass. Praise God!

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Comments

  1. says

    I too am not Catholic, but really love this. We bless our kids each night before they go to bed with the tradition blessing found in the book of Numbers. I too think that just taking them to church pours grace out on all of us as we grow and learn together.

  2. says

    I really love this. And what a great quote from St. John Chrysostom, reminding us of the power of the cross. Tucking that away for future reference.

  3. Darci says

    My husband and I are expecting our first and he frequently makes the sign of the cross over my belly when we pray. I had him read this post too!

    • Haley says

      What a precious and beautiful thing! Congratulations and prayers for a healthy pregnancy and delivery :)

  4. says

    This. Beautiful. Wow. I have no words, it just spoke to me exactly the way it’s supposed to. Thank you for writing this.

  5. says

    We prayer with our wee ones when we put them to bed, a prayer of thanksgiving and request for sweet dreams and protection from evil. And often before we go to be we check on them sleeping sweetly in their cribs and pray the prayers for the Lords continued grace as the grow. It is good thing to receive these little ones from the Lord, and then raise them in the Lord’s way.

  6. says

    I’ve never read this quotation from St. John Chrysostom — how awesome! I love the sign of the Cross but I will be thinking about it even more now!

  7. says

    Love that Daniel wrote a post! This really stuck in my head (read it a while ago but haven’t had a chance to comment until now) because it’s so easy to allow making the sign of the cross to become routine and forget just how powerful it can be. Thank you!

  8. Mama Cat says

    I loved the post from the hubby and obviously need to read more from 4th century saints! I have never thought of the sign of the cross that way. It is an amazing gift that God has given us the saints to encourage and teach us. Once we made it through our three volumes about the saints for kids (reading about one each night before bed), I had really slacked off as far as talking about them with the kids. Today, though, St. Teresa of Calcutta was on my mind, so I spent about 20 minutes telling the kids about her. My breath was taken away because my 7yo is in total awe of her. :-). I thought for a moment she might even have replaced St. Michael the archangel, but I was informed otherwise.

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