You might have noticed some Christians praying in Church using the sign of the cross. Whether you choose to use this prayer help or not, it is good for you to understand the use of this sign as well as its history. After reading this brief article, you too might desire to use the sign of the cross as a prayer help. If not, at least you will have a better understanding why some of us do. It needs to be said that many devout Christians choose not to make the sign of the cross in prayer.
According to an article published on the web site of the Sacred Heart Church1 in Seattle, WA, whenever we use the sign of the cross we are reminded of the sufferings and death of our Savior, and thereby we are filled with fervent love, profound gratitude, and earnest contrition.
“The sign of the cross is the symbol of our deliverance and the emblem of the mercy of God giving redemption to sinful man.”
“The form of words which we use in making this sign, together with the action performed, manifests our belief in the principal truths of our religion. We say: ‘In the name’ – not ‘names’ – and thereby express our faith in the unity of God. We mention the three Persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and thus show our belief in the Adorable Trinity. The cross itself, made with the hand, manifests our faith in the incarnation, death and resurrection of our Blessed Savior, and shows that we regard Him not only as God but as man – for that He might be able to die on the cross it was necessary that He should possess a human nature. Thus we have in this brief formula a summary of the most important articles of our faith.”
“The making of the sign of the cross is a very ancient practice. It probably goes back to Apostolic times, and was in common use in the second century. Among the early Christians it was usually made very small, by a slight movement of the finger or thumb, on the forehead or breast. … The triple sign of the cross was employed very commonly in the early centuries of the Church and in the Middle Ages. … It is made by marking the forehead, the lips and the breast with a small cross, using the thumb, and is intended to remind us that our intellect must be attentive to the Word of God, our lips ready to announce His truths, and our hearts filled with love toward Him.”
“The ordinary method of making the sign of the cross is … the putting of the right hand to the forehead, to the breast and to the left and the right shoulder, with the words: ‘In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.’ “
This holy symbol of our salvation, then, can in good conscience be frequently used by us and is used in several worship services, such as at Baptism, the Anointing of the Sick, and sometimes at the Benediction. In making the sign of the cross, we become partakers in the wonderful history of our faith, and companions of the glorious saints of the Church.