21 Benefits of Making the Sign of the Cross

The Sign of the Cross is a simple gesture yet a profound expression of faith for both Catholic and Orthodox Christians. As Catholics, it’s something we do when we enter a church, after we receive Communion, before meals, and every time we pray. But what exactly are we doing when we make the Sign of the Cross? Here are 21 things:

  1. Pray

We begin and end our prayers with the Sign of the Cross, perhaps not realizing that the sign is itself a prayer. If prayer, at its core, is “an uprising of the mind to God,” as St. John Damascene put it, then the Sign of the Cross assuredly qualifies. “No empty gesture, the sign of the cross is a potent prayer that engages the Holy Spirit as the divine advocate and agent of our successful Christian living,” writes Bert Ghezzi.

  1. Open ourselves to grace

As a sacramental, the Sign of the Cross prepares us for receiving God’s blessing and disposes us to cooperate with His grace, according to Ghezzi.

  1. Sanctify the day

As an act repeated throughout the key moments of each day, the Sign of the Cross sanctifies our day. “At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign,” wrote Tertullian.

  1. Commit the whole self to Christ

In moving our hands from our foreheads to our hearts and then both shoulders, we are asking God’s blessing for our mind, our passions and desires, our very bodies. In other words, the Sign of the Cross commits us, body and soul, mind and heart, to Christ. (I’m paraphrasing this Russian Orthodox writer.) “Let it take in your whole being—body, soul, mind, will, thoughts, feelings, your doing and not-doing—and by signing it with the cross strengthen and consecrate the whole in the strength of Christ, in the name of the triune God,” said twentieth century theologian Romano Guardini.Read More »

Saint Kentigern / Saint Mungo

Saint Kentigern, also known as Mungo, was born in Culross, Fifeshire c.518. He was the son of Tannoch, a princess of Lothian, who has given her name to St Enoch’s Square in Glasgow, and to Tannoch side near Uddingston. Tannoch’s father was a pagan and when she adopted Christianity she was expelled from her home. During her wanderings she was raped, and her father ordered that she be set adrift in an open boat at Aberlady in order that her pregnancy should not bring a slur on the family name. The boat was washed upon the shore at the Christian settlement of Culross and there the infant Kentigern was born. He was christened Kendyern, British for “Great Chief’.

Kentigern was given the name Mungo, meaning something like “dear one”, by St Serf, who ran a monastery at Culross and took in both mother and son. St Serf then oversaw Mungo’s upbringing. At the age of 25, Mungo began his missionary work on the banks of the River Clyde. Here he was welcomed by people previously converted to Christianity by St Ninian, and here Mungo built his church, close to the confluence of the River Clyde and the Molendinar Burn. Since the 1200s the site of this early church has formed part of Glasgow Cathedral.

Mungo worked on the banks of the River Clyde for 13 years until the anti-Christian King Morken of Strathclyde drove him out in about AD565. Mungo made his way through Cumbria to Wales, where he spent time with St David, possibly founded a cathedral at St Asaph, and even found time for a pilgrimage to Rome. But in the 570s King Rhydderch Hael of Strathclyde, having overthrown Morken, invited Mungo to become Archbishop of Strathclyde. Mungo initially based himself in northern Galloway. In August 584 Mungo is said to have converted the bard Merlin to Christianity near the site of a church he later founded: Stobo Kirk.Read More »