What a strange way to signify we believe in an all powerful God. I wear one around my neck (tucked into my blouse, next to my heart :). I bless myself each day before and after praying by making the sign of the cross and I even collect them and place them around my home. But how strange it all is. Is it not the ultimate sign of death, defeat and shame--not a sign of life and victory?
“By signing ourselves with the Cross, we place ourselves under the protection of the Cross, hold it in front of us like a shield that will guard us in all the distress of daily life and give us the courage to go on...The Cross shows us the road of life--the imitation of Christ.” PBXVI*
After reading this I had a crazy dream.
In my dream I was walking, arms out for balance, on a very narrow, ragged piece of wood. When I glanced down--my heart stopped. I was up, very high, crossing over a steep walled gorge with a raging river deep below. The steps ahead were misty and cloaked in fog hiding how far I would need to go in order to reach safety.
Then, as dreams often go, the perspective suddenly changed and I saw myself from a distance. Out of the fog came a strong and powerful hand reaching out to me onto which I could cling for support. I could not see who it belonged to, but I could feel that the hand was rough and the arm it was attached to was strong. Because of this, I took great courage, my steps quickened and I saw that the wood below me came to an intersection of sorts. I then realized that the beam on which I was walking, was the cross of Christ and the hand that was gripping onto me so tightly, was pierced. Ahh! Sweet peace. I was safe, even though my circumstances were still quite precarious, I felt that all would be well. And then I awoke.
Do you ever feel like this? Like you are in an uncertain place--in your life or even in your faith? Are your steps shakey or unsure? Got worries? Can't sleep?
I have more than once been found sleeping with my rosary wrapped around my hand with the Cross firmly placed in my palm. (My friend Linda and I call this the "Rosary clutch!" or RC for short.)
If I awaken, startled or worried about something or someone, I give my cross a squeeze and picture all of the prayers I have said on that rosary going right up to heaven. It has gotten me through many a troubled night.
St. Ignatius of Antioch (35-108 A.D.) writes: “O what truly divine wisdom is this! O Cross, thou hoist to heaven! The Cross was driven into the ground and behold, idol worship was destroyed. No ordinary wood is this, but the wood that God used for victory!”
Thanks be to God for the Cross! Cling to it! Take it in your hand and say, "Jesus, I trust in You!" It bridges the gap over all our troubled waters--anxiety, worry--even death. It signifies the power of Christ Himself who overcame death and reaches out from beyond it to bring us safely to the otherside.
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
With all that is happening in the Church, we as your people and I personally need the power of your Cross more than ever. Please give me the grace to never be ashamed of it or of You. Make me bold to speak of You, sign myself by it, and proud to wear what should be a source of shame, but that you transformed into victory! Make me keenly aware that in You, and by what You have done by dying on the cross and rising again, I will always find my peace and my victory in this life...and in the next.”
I ask this in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
* The Spirit of the Liturgy Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), p.177-184.
Photo is of a relic of the True Wood of the Cross- it is the tiny cross in the center of the cross.