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St. Francis de Sales: How to make the Sign of the Cross [Ecumenical]
CatholicExchange.com ^ | on July 31, 2013 | Stuart Dunn

Posted on 08/01/2013 6:42:32 PM PDT by Salvation

St. Francis de Sales: How to make the Sign of the Cross

by Stuart Dunn on July 31, 2013 ·

 

 

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” These words roll off every Catholic’s tongue so frequently that we often forget the significance of what we are saying. Sometimes we make the Sign of the Cross at Mass so haphazardly that we look like a coach on the first base line at a Major League Baseball game. Worst of all, sometimes we don’t even make the Sign of the Cross because we are afraid we will bring unwanted attention and judgment upon ourselves. All of these are bad, and I am ashamed to admit that I have been guilty of each transgression at various points in my life. It is time we reconnect with this most ancient of prayers and discover the power behind these fifteen words.

St. Francis de Sales’ little treatise entitled The Sign of the Cross begins by explaining how to make the sign of the Cross. It may seem like a no-brainer at first, but I’d bet that very few Catholics know why we make the Sign of the Cross the way we do. To summarize St. Francis de Sales, we use our right hand, because it is “the more worthy of the two.” With our right hand, we use either three fingers to represent the Trinity or five fingers to represent Jesus’ five wounds. We begin the prayer by placing our right hand on our forehead to acknowledge that God the Father is the one from whom all things originate. Next, we move our hand down to our stomach as a sign that Jesus proceeded from the Father. Lastly, we cross ourselves from left shoulder to right shoulder to show that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son and that He is the bond of love between Father and Son. Let that information sink in, and reflect on it going forward each time you make the Sign of the Cross.

The rest of this book deals with the origins, history, uses, and benefits of the Sign of the Cross. For example, did you know that in early times the Sign of the Cross was made on the forehead? It eventually evolved to its present form, but early Christians put the Sign on their forehead both as a profession of faith and an invocation of God’s assistance in every aspect of their lives. The most fascinating chapter to me was entitled “A Defense against Demons.” In this chapter, St. Francis de Sales quotes various Church Fathers, from St. Athanasius to St. John Chrysostom, all of whom speak about the power of the Sign of the Cross over Satan and his minions. It is truly a simple but powerful weapon that so many fail to realize they possess. So, in the words of Origen, “Let us rejoice, my beloved friends, and lift holy hands to heaven in the form of the Cross; when the demons see us armed in this way they will be crushed.”

If you are looking for a simple way to deepen your prayer life, then pick up a copy of The Sign of the Cross. You will gain a wealth of spiritual benefits from reading this book, but you must not stop there. You must then act upon what you have read. Slow down when crossing yourself. Think about each word as you say it. Also, start using the Sign of the Cross in every aspect of your life! You don’t have to just use it at the beginning and ending of formal prayer. You can use it when starting and ending a task at work. By doing this, you will make your entire day a prayer to God. These fifteen words can transform your life, if you only let them.

 



TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Prayer
KEYWORDS: catholic; prayer
The first prayer a child learns.
1 posted on 08/01/2013 6:42:32 PM PDT by Salvation
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2 posted on 08/01/2013 6:47:12 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: nickcarraway; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; ArrogantBustard; Catholicguy; RobbyS; marshmallow; ...

Sign of the Cross Ping!


3 posted on 08/01/2013 6:48:24 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

Mexicans (but not many other central Americans) tend to follow the sign of the cross with a smaller (it happens so fast) gesture which ends with what looks like a kissing of the thumb. I had a Mexican ex girlfriend slow down and show me in greater detail but that was a while ago. What is that and where did it originate?


4 posted on 08/01/2013 6:50:01 PM PDT by posterchild
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To: posterchild

That should be ‘other north or central americans.’


5 posted on 08/01/2013 6:50:53 PM PDT by posterchild
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To: Salvation

Bless you! A prayer answered.


6 posted on 08/01/2013 6:52:27 PM PDT by GBA (Our obamanation: Romans 1:18-32)
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To: Salvation

I didn’t know that history mentioned in the article.


7 posted on 08/01/2013 6:57:31 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: posterchild

They cross their thumb and forefinger to make a cross.


8 posted on 08/01/2013 7:02:40 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation
Next, we move our hand down to our stomach as a sign that Jesus proceeded from the Father.

I was taught that you moved to the heart, as in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I've never heard the stomach version.

9 posted on 08/01/2013 7:03:23 PM PDT by workerbee (The President of the United States is DOMESTIC ENEMY #1)
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To: workerbee

Me too.

Watch a priest, though. They make the vertical part longer.


10 posted on 08/01/2013 7:08:47 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: workerbee

I usually would touch just above the belt.


11 posted on 08/01/2013 7:09:19 PM PDT by ronnietherocket3
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To: ronnietherocket3

Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch.

That’s how they taught it at the Irish church. At least that’s how the older kids taught it.


12 posted on 08/01/2013 7:14:29 PM PDT by Vermont Lt (Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?)
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To: posterchild

Very religious Jews affix a scroll with a portion of Torah to their doors. When they enter the room, they touch it and kiss their hand. In addition some prayers are supposed to be said with tefillin tied to their heads and left arm; tefillin are small black boxes (sort of). In each box is the same passage. I would guess the latter tradition prefigures making the sign of the Cross. I realize this doesn’t answer your question, but I thought of this when I read it.

A possible cause would be the attempt of the Mexican Government to destroy the Catholic church about a century ago. The Catholics would make the sign of the cross really fast so they could do it without being seen. The kiss might represent a request that God enter you.


13 posted on 08/01/2013 7:16:02 PM PDT by ronnietherocket3
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To: Salvation

"Sometimes we make the Sign of the Cross at Mass so haphazardly that we look like a coach on the first base line at a Major League Baseball game."

This is so true. I am amazed at the haphazard way some people exercise this upon entering mass and during it. It is like there is an award for the most obscure or fastest method of crossing themselves.

14 posted on 08/01/2013 7:17:28 PM PDT by kempster
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To: Ciexyz

Yes, that makes me want to read the book!


15 posted on 08/01/2013 7:20:00 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Vermont Lt

I’ve heard that before ... what I cannot figure out is if its said by southpaws or what.

Watch for a righty goes on left arm and wallet in right rear pocket which with that saying would produce an Orthodox cross not a Catholic one.

Or am I just confused tonight.


16 posted on 08/01/2013 7:20:23 PM PDT by wonkowasright (Wonko from outside the asylum)
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To: wonkowasright

Orthodox move to the right shoulder first, then to the left shoulder.....so it makes sense that way.


17 posted on 08/01/2013 7:21:52 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

The Greek and Russian Orthodox “ways” are cool, too. Very slow and deliberate. (To my knowledge; from what I have seen).


18 posted on 08/01/2013 7:34:05 PM PDT by AmericanInTokyo (Kim Jong Un won't have a single "bad underwear day" unless/until we've a patriot in the White House)
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To: wonkowasright

I think it had to do with where you would keep a billfold and pocket watch in a jacket. But pocket watches were before my time, so I wouldn’t be able fathom a guess.


19 posted on 08/01/2013 8:13:18 PM PDT by Vermont Lt (Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?)
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To: Salvation

bookmark


20 posted on 08/01/2013 9:00:23 PM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: Vermont Lt

Actually, that’s how I remember where I actually left my wallet and watch and glasses... by doing the sign of the cross. Still the same, it’s a good thing my testicals are permanently attached.


21 posted on 08/01/2013 11:25:27 PM PDT by Rodamala
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To: Salvation

Sometimes we make the Sign of the Cross at Mass so haphazardly that we look like a coach on the first base line at a Major League Baseball game.

&&&
Great image. I guess we all have been guilty of that, at some time or another.

Good post. Thanks, Sal.


22 posted on 08/02/2013 5:12:12 AM PDT by Bigg Red (Let me hear what God the LORD will speak. -Ps85)
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To: workerbee

I was taught that you moved to the heart, as in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I’ve never heard the stomach version.

&&&
Same here. And I was also taught to keep my left hand at my heart until the “amen”, at which point the hands are brought together in the classic prayer gesture.


23 posted on 08/02/2013 5:14:35 AM PDT by Bigg Red (Let me hear what God the LORD will speak. -Ps85)
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To: Salvation

When I was first teaching the Sign and Grace Before Meals to my eldest grandson, before he was 2, he would often say “yay-men” for “amen”.


24 posted on 08/02/2013 5:19:46 AM PDT by Bigg Red (Let me hear what God the LORD will speak. -Ps85)
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To: Rodamala

My kids are just getting out of college. I cannot wait to get my testicles back after the final tuition payment.


25 posted on 08/02/2013 1:45:48 PM PDT by Vermont Lt (Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?)
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To: Vermont Lt

Now that actually makes sense.

Thanks.


26 posted on 08/02/2013 5:58:08 PM PDT by wonkowasright (Wonko from outside the asylum)
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To: posterchild

I have heard that in Mexico during the persecution of the Church, the Cristeros War, etc., symbols of the Faith were not allowed so after the Sign of the Cross was made one put one’s thumb over the first finger to form a cross. As an Act of Faith, they then kissed the cross. This would be the only cross they probably had and certainly the only one they could safely have.


27 posted on 08/02/2013 10:06:04 PM PDT by pbear8 (the Lord is my light and my salvation)
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To: Salvation

thank you for posting- the writings of St Francis de Sales are my favorite...


28 posted on 08/03/2013 7:13:22 PM PDT by homegroan (Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option....)
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