Do you think that the Cross is simply a "liturgical symbol". It might be time to re-think that idea.
by Kathryn M. Cunningham, MAPS | Source:

            Theologian Karl Rahner tells us: “a symbol is that through which a reality expresses itself.” Our reality is the cross!  The gesture recalling that symbol is one that we perform automatically and is the outward expression of that heart of our faith.  It is a much richer symbol, however, than what meets the eye!  The next time you sign yourself remember these things: From God to us we are gifted with grace and salvation (Vertical Motion), but equally important, is the fact that we are to communicate that same grace and salvation to all of mankind, the people on our left and the people on our right (Horizontal Motion). This is our destiny and commission wrapped up in a motion that takes less than three seconds!  In Church this is an easy gesture to do, but what about the rest of the world?  Are you unabashed in your willingness to communicate to the world that you are one who chooses to be “marked” with the cross? Do you willingly say grace when dining out and mark yourself at the end of the prayer?  Do you say grace when you are alone and mark yourself?  Do you pray with people in public and mark yourself at the conclusion?  Do you send your children and/or loved ones out and mark them with the sign of the Cross before they go?  Do you mark yourself with the Cross when you need a “spiritual boost”?  Do you have the Cross displayed in spaces that belong to you?  Why, or perhaps more importantly, why not? 

            Besides being a liturgical gesture, the sign of the cross carries potencies that we who practice the gesture sometimes underestimate.  With the sign we actually impart blessings to whomever or whatever we sign.  With the sign we witness without ever saying a word, in the mode of St. Frances of Assisi.  With the sign we drive away demons. “Oh Holy Cross… by you Hell is despoiled, by you demons are made afraid and restrained, conquered and trampled underfoot” (Saint Anselm).   Saints who clearly understood the power of the symbol of the Cross, like Catherine of Siena, have actually re-coined it the “Tree of Life”.  Even the Bible affirms the approaching potency of this symbol of God’s greatest of act of love for us, long before the Crucifixion ever took place: Moses prefigured the symbol when he stretched out his arms to heaven and defeated Amalek and the Israelites were told to gaze on the symbol raised high on a standard to be healed of poisonous wounds! 

            So we need to re-evaluate the spiritual weapons at our disposal.  Sometimes the enemy leads us to believe that we are powerless in the light of our circumstances.  Sometimes we “buy in” to the thought that this is all too much for us to manage or get through.  The sign of the cross has an efficacy that goes back two thousand years.  Every time we exercise the sign we are participating in the Crucifixion, we are saying yes to God, yes to Jesus and yes to the Holy Spirit. “With the cross we are freed from the restraint of the enemy and we clutch on to the strength of salvation” (Saint Theodorus the Estudite).   By exercising the sign of the Cross we clearly take a position in the world as believers, we proclaim Christ Crucified without ever having to speak! 

            The ability to exercise the sign of the Cross is not difficult.  It is not a hard or physically demanding thing.  It requires no special equipment or setting.  It does not require clergy.  It does not cost anything!  In that simplicity God has given us an ability to witness, to teach, to bless, to fight demons, to thwart evil, to offer protection to declare ourselves, to take a stand.  So what’s your excuse for not taking advantage of the power of this ultimate weapon that we have been given?  Maybe it’s as matter of courage?   Remember that Jesus taught us: “For if anyone in this generation is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mk 8:38).   Go and show the world that you are not ashamed of the Sign of the Cross, and reap blessings that you didn’t even consider! 

Copyright© 2009, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved 

Explore more about Kathryn’s view of life in general and the Church in particular at:




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