The sign of the cross: simple, ancient, and so profound

When we do the sign of the cross we are putting ourselves in the presence of God and are asking for His spiritual and physical protection. Yet, this simple prayer has a much more profound meaning. 

The sign of the cross is simple. We trace a cross from our forehead to our chest and from one shoulder to the next, while saying “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Making the sign of the cross is a practice that has been performed since the earliest days of Christianity.  Back then they used to trace the sign of the cross on the forehead. 

Tertullian, an early church father that lived between A.D. 160 and 220 said “At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign.”

Let us then not be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the cross our seal, made with boldness by our fingers on our brow and in everything; over the bread we eat and the cups we drink, in our comings and in our goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we awake; when we are traveling, and when we are at rest.
— St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386)

I probably do the sign of the cross 8 to 10 times a day. Wen we do the sign of the cross we should do it consciously and with devotion. We are professing our faith in the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and putting ourselves in mindful union with our loving and caring God. We are also gratefully acknowledging that God the Son chose to die in the cross for our salvation.

When, then, you make the sign of the cross on the forehead, arm yourself with a saintly boldness, and reinstall your soul in its old liberty; for you are not ignorant that the cross is a prize beyond all price.

Consider what is the price given for your ransom, and you will never more be slave to any man on earth. This reward and ransom is the cross. You should not then, carelessly make the sign on the forehead, but you should impress it on your heart with the love of a fervent faith. Nothing impure will dare to molest you on seeing the weapon, which overcometh all things.
— St. John Chrysostom (349 - 407)

Making the sign of the cross is also a sign of discipleship. We are denying ourselves, taking our cross, and following Jesus. We are humbly proclaiming that our heart and our soul belong to Jesus and we seek to do His will at all times. “At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out…”

God bless you.