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The Sign of the Cross

Today’s Reflection

A FORM OF PREPARATION for prayer, practiced from time immemorial by Roman Catholics and increasingly used by thoughtful non-Catholics, is to make the sign of the cross on oneself as a confession of obedience to the Christian way. This is accomplished by placing the thumb against the first two fingers of the right hand and thoughtfully touching the forehead, the heart, the left side of the chest, and the right side of the chest.

I once heard a nun, who had been a Protestant and a homemaker until she was 40 years old, say that she wished her Protestant friends were not so afraid of this simple gesture of relationship to Christ. Even if she were to leave the Roman Catholic church, she said, she would continue to make the sign of the cross before prayers, for she found the inward dimension of this symbolic action exceedingly helpful.

– John Killinger
Beginning Prayer

From pages 31-32 of Beginning Prayer by John Killinger. Copyright © 2012 by John Killinger. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Why is this gesture helpful to some Christians? Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28, NRSV

This Week: pray to be an instrument of God’s work. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Alice Paul (July 09).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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  • Jill July 8, 2017, 6:34 am

    Making the sign of the cross is not a part of my faith tradition. The question posed above is a curious one to me, in so much as the majority of the time I see the sign being made, it is by an athlete. And, more recently, I do pause and question – why is this particular athlete making this sign at this particular moment? Is he/she deeply spiritual? I am dismayed when I will see an athlete make the sign and then at a later time – I lip read very inappropriate words coming from the same athlete’s mouth. Or I see self-grandification gestures. As James would say in Scripture – “this should not be so”.
    Thinking of Rusty this morning. Father – watch over him and K.

  • robert moeller July 8, 2017, 6:48 am

    Tradition, being brought up making the sign of the cross, are ways this action becomes part of you and thus meaningful. I do think it has to be done reverently, slowly or it can lose some of its purpose, effect, intent. Like the Lord’s prayer it can be done too quickly out of habit.

    Thankful to be at the committal service for my uncle yesterday. He’s with his parents, many sisters and a brother, a daughter who lived only a year, and a great uncle here on earth and with them plus many more in heaven. Thank You. Lord. Met family members I have not seen in a long time, had a nice lunch, and a good visit. Thankful Erich is working, making progress, paying bills. His work schedule has calmed down and he knows it for the coming week. Thankful that arrangements to finish my move are in place and it should happen this coming Wednesday-Friday. Thankful that Anneliese has pain management treatment on Monday and physical therapy on Thursday.
    Pray they continue to be helpful.

    Prayers for Betsy, her sister, and the family of her sister’s husband. God’s peace be with all of you. Prayers that Mary is recovering from the flu.

    Church tomorrow, our pastor should be back from vacation. Thank You, Lord
    for the blessings we receive from You. Peace from God, the Father, Jesus, His Son, and the Holy Spirit to all who come to the UR.

    • Julie July 8, 2017, 8:04 am

      My condolences for the loss of your uncle and I am glad Erich is adjusting. Peace be with you both

  • Julie July 8, 2017, 8:03 am

    II attended an Episcopal Church and we crossed ourselves and genuflected. My grandfather was a devout Catholic and kept a crucufix oon his dashboaard and he would cross himself and kiss his fingers whenever we passed a church.
    To me I feel that it is a sign of respect and obedience. I still feel do these both prior to taking communion and I even take communion as close to how I was taught.
    Blessings and prayers to all whhho come here for fellowship

  • Joan July 8, 2017, 8:04 am

    As a Lutheran, I use it as a sign of blessing – God please be with me – or a form of Amen. It is a reminder of the connection between us.

  • Henrietta July 8, 2017, 8:23 am

    Making the sign of the cross helps me ( a lifelong Protestant) to focus. It joins body and spirit as I seek to commune with God.

  • Gary Rimm July 8, 2017, 12:28 pm

    I may have some issue with the Roman Catholic faith regarding some doctrine and practices such as lack of inclusion of other faiths in communion, etc. However, there are a few practices I would like us to adopt.
    First Communion for the RC’s is a formal education process followed by a proclaimed day for the sacrament of First communion. I believe there is something lost in the way Protestants handle this rite.
    Like communion, the sign of the cross for most RC’s is sign of entering into prayerful worship. It puts them in a quiet place to absorb the worship experience. You may be able to tell that I know many strong Roman Catholics. This is a practice I might consider starting.
    Has there been discussion of adding this practice to Methodist standard practice?
    I’m interested in learning more.
    Gary

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