We pray as Jesus did. How did he pray? He prayed from the heart, yet Jesus used words and signs– sometimes even cries– to pray. Like him, we also use words and signs in prayer.
One prayer we pray frequently is the Sign of the Cross.
The Sign of the Cross goes back to the earliest days of Christianity. It’s made on us at baptism, when we become members of the church and it’s the last sign made over us as we pass to our future life. The Sign of the Cross is used in liturgical prayer and celebrating the sacraments. We begin and end our prayers with it.
When we “bless ourselves” we trace with our hand the figure of the cross on our forehead, our heart, our shoulders, and say:In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Sign of the Cross is a prayer of blessing because it symbolizes God embracing us and blessing us. For the Jews God is always One who blesses. God blessed Noah and saved the world from the flood. God blessed Abraham and Sara with blessings more than the stars in the sky. God blessed the Jewish people, redeeming them from the slavery of Egypt. Life itself and all creation are blessings from God. And God’s blessings, beyond measure, continue, always and everywhere.
Since God blesses us continuously, we bless God in return. “I will bless the Lord at all times,” the psalmist says.
As Christians we bless God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As Father, God offers us the blessings of creation and also gives us his Son. “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing.” ( Ephesians1,3 ) Jesus Christ is our God, our Friend, our Brother, our Savior. With the Father he sends the Holy Spirit “to complete his work on earth and bring us the fullness of grace.”
When we bless ourselves, we remember God “from whom all blessings flow,” Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
As Christians we believe the Cross of Jesus Christ is the greatest blessing given to us. Why is it our greatest blessing? Because God expresses his love for us above all in Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for us and rose again. The Sign of the Cross is a reminder that Jesus’ love never ends. His blessings are ours forever.
We express our relationship to God in this simple prayer. We have God’s blessings each day, in good times and bad, in danger and sorrow. God’s blessings and love are always there. Before we take one step, we receive blessings from his hands.