Friday, September 14, 2007

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

In the interval between the cradle and the grave how many Signs of the Cross are made over man! At Baptism, through which we become children of God, the Sign of the Cross; at Confirmation, through which we are made soldiers of virtue, the Sign of the Cross; in receiving the Eucharist, when we are nourished with the Bread of Angels, the Sign of the Cross; in Confession, through which we recover divine life, the Sign of the Cross; when we receive Extreme Unction, through which we are fortified for the last battle, the Sign of the Cross; at Ordination and Holy Matrimony, through which we become associated to the paternity of God Himself, the Sign of the Cross. Always and everywhere, today as in other times, in the East as in the West, the Sign of the Cross is made over men.

BUT that’s not all! Take a look at what the Church does through the person of the Priest at the Altar. Armed with the Omnipotence that was given to Her, She commands not only creatures, but the Creator Himself; not man, but God Himself. At Her voice the Heavens are opened, the Word incarnates and renews all the mysteries of His Life, Death, and Resurrection! Also, in the course of the Action par excellance, that is the Mass, what does the Church do? More than ever, She multiplies the Sign of the Cross; She surrounds Herself with the Sign of the Cross; She walks by means of the Sign of the Cross; She repeats It so frequently that the number could even seem an exaggeration, if it were not deeply mysterious!!! Do you know how many times the Priest makes the Sign of the Cross during the Mass? Forty-eight (48) times! I’m wrong, forty-nine (49) times because as long as the Holy Sacrifice is taking place, the Priest himself is a living Sign of the Cross. Would the Catholic Church, the great Instructor of nations, the great Teacher of Truth, would She be amused at repeating so frequently in Her Most Solemn Act a useless, superstitious and unimportant sign? If you or your friends think so, then you are guilty of incredulity.

We are soldiers, and the Sign of the Cross is a weapon against the enemy. More than three (3) thousand years ago, Job defined human life as a continuous battle. Centuries have gone by and the definition has remained the same. Life is a battle for you, for me, for your peers, for the rich as well as for the poor. It’s a battle that begins at the cradle and it does not end until the grave! Such my dear friend is the condition of man, and we can’t do anything to change that. And who are man’s enemy, yours, and mine? Eh! We all know them, not only by their name, but also by their attacks: The devil, the world, and the flesh!!! Three (3) powers conspiring to bring us to ruin!

Demons are fallen angels. Their intellect, strength, agility, etc., are superior to ours; their number is incalculable. Jealous that the children of Adam were called to eternal happiness, which they had lost, their only aim and occupation is our destruction, increasing or passions, creating dangerous situations, darkening in us the gift of faith, destroying our moral sense, suffocating our remorse, making us accomplices of their rebellion in order to make us their companions in Hell!!! So, as sure as our battles, and man being in so weak a condition, could it be conceivable that Divine Wisdom would not give us a way to defend ourselves? On the contrary, in order to help us in our battles, God has given to man a powerful and universal weapon that is always at the reach of everyone. What could this weapon be???

Let us question every century, above all the Christian centuries. They respond with a unanimous voice that this weapon is the Sign of the Cross! This weapon had been used by the most learned and holy men in the East as well as in the West. St. John Chrysostom says: “Do not ever go out of your house without making the Sign of the Cross. It will be for you a shield, a weapon, an inexpugnable tower. Neither man nor demon will ever dare to attack you, if they see you clothed with this armor.” Origen says: “The Sign of the Cross is the invisible armor of Christians. Soldier of Christ that you are, wear (use) This Armor always during the day, and during the night, and everywhere. Without It do not undertake any task, whether it be sleeping or traveling, resting or working, eating or drinking, be always clothed with This Protective Armor. Adorn and protect every single one of your members with This Victorious Sign. At the sight of This Sign the infernal powers flee scared and stupefied.” St. Augustine used to say to the Catechumens: “We must confront the enemy with the Symbol and Sign of the Cross; so that the Christian vested with these weapons may easily triumph over the ancient and prideful tyrant.” St. Athanasius says: “By means of the Sign of the Cross the works of magic are made impotent; all the enchantments lose their efficacy. By means of It, the impetus of the most brutal will is moderated and pacified.”

~Il Segno della Croce by Mgr. Gaume

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