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 »

#MoralStory: Human Value (A $20 Bill)

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked,

“Who would like this $20 bill?”

Hands started going up.

He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.

He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill.

He then asked, “Who still wants it?”

Still the hands were up in the air.

Well, he replied, “What if I do this?”

And he dropped it on the ground. And started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty.

“Now, who still wants it?”

Still the hands went into the air.

My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson.

No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it Because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.

Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.

We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.

Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, But by WHO WE ARE.

“You are special – Don’t EVER forget it.”

God Of All My Days ~ by Casting Crowns

*

I came to You with my heart in pieces
And found the God with healing in His hands
I turned to You, put everything behind me
And found the God who makes all things new
I looked to You, drowning in my questions
And found the God who holds all wisdom
And I trusted You and stepped out on the ocean
You caught my hand among the waves
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days

Each step I take
You make a way
And I will give You all my praise
My seasons change, You stay the same
You’re the God of all my days

I ran from You, I wandered in the shadows
And found a God who relentlessly pursues
I hid from You, haunted by my failure
And found the God whose grace still covers me
I fell on You when I was at my weakest
And found the God, the lifter of my head
And I’ve worshiped You
And felt You right beside me
You’re the reason that I sing
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days

Each step I take
You make a way
And I will give You all my praise
My seasons change, You stay the same
You’re the God of all my days

In my worry, God You are my stillness
In my searching, God You are my answers
In my blindness, God You are my vision
In my bondage, God You are my freedom
In my weakness, God You are my power
You’re the reason that I sing
‘Cause You’re the God of all my days

Each step I take
You make a way
And I will give You all my praise
My seasons change, You stay the same
You’re the God of all my days

In my blindness, God You are my vision
And in my bondage, God You are my freedom
All my days

#ShortNews: Chinese ‘underground’ bishop evicted, homeless

Msgr. Vincenzo Guo Xijin, former ordinary bishop of Mindong (Fujian) is now homeless and sleeping on the doorstep of his curia and clergy house in Luojiang, following the arrival yesterday of an eviction order for him and for the priests who work and live with him. The police operation is a sign of official annoyance and an attempt to pressure the bishop and his priests who refuse to sign up to an “independent” Church.

However, Msgr. Guo, never signed up for membership in the independent Church and thus has not been recognized by the government with the result that he has now been downgraded to the status of homeless and migrant.

At least 20 priests out of 57 do not want to sign. They say the signature “is only the beginning of greater persecution and control”, which tends to make priests “party officials” who agree not to evangelize young people under the age of 18 – which runs contrary to the Chinese Constitution – and subjecting every initiative of evangelization to the supremacy of the Communist Party.

Source: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Mindong%E2%80%99s-Msgr.-Guo-evicted-from-the-curia:-he-will-sleep-on-the-street.-Several-priests-and-elderly-also-made-homeless-(Video)-49047.html

#ShortNews: Pope, at weekday Mass, reflects on ‘the little prayer that moves God’

The day’s Gospel tells how a leper approached Jesus, saying “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean”. In his homily, Pope Francis said that the leper’s request is a simple prayer, “an act of confidence” — but at the same time, “a true challenge”. It is plea that comes from the depths of his heart, which also reveals something about Jesus and His compassion for us. Jesus, the Pope said, suffers “with and for us”, He takes the suffering of others upon Himself, comforting them and healing them in the name the love of the Father.

Reflecting on the “simple” story of the healing of the leper, Pope Francis said that the phrase, “If you will…” is a prayer that “gets God’s attention”. “It is a challenge”, he said, “but also an act of confidence: I know that He can do it, and so I entrust myself to Him”.

Source: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2020-01/pope-at-mass-the-little-prayer-that-moves-god.html

#ShortNews: Korean Catholic population soars, but Mass attendance falls

The number of Catholics in South Korea has steadily increased 48.6 percent from 3,946,844 in 1999 to 5,866,510 in 2018. However, the year-to-year growth rate in Catholics has gradually slowed to below 1 percent. In 2000 and 2001, the Catholic population grew 3.2 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively, before falling to the 2 percent range until 2009. The growth rate dropped to 1.7 percent in 2010 and briefly rebounded to 2.2 percent in 2014 due to Pope Francis’ visit to South Korea. But it again dived below 1 percent to reach 0.9 percent two years ago.

The ratio of Catholics in the nation’s total population rose from 8.3 percent to 11.1 percent in the 1999-2018 period. But their mass attendance rate, considered a key indicator of existing believers’ religious life, tumbled by more than 10 percentage points from 29.5 percent to 18.3 percent during the period.

Source: http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20200111000018

The Glorious Mission

If you knew you were about to die, what wisdom would you impart to your loved ones in your final moments? What’s most important for them to learn from you?

In the Gospel reading (John 13:31-35), Jesus knows that his time is short. The first thing he says to his friends is words of praise for God (the Father) while equating himself with God. He even calls his friends “children” as if he himself is God the Father! In so doing, he makes it clear that he is one with the Father — so totally that the lines between Father and Savior are blurred. And he does it humbly. He could have said, “Hey guys, in case you’re not sure, I am divine. I am God. Worship me.” But instead, he focuses on the glory of God.

Glory is the radiating light of God’s presence: his love, his joy, his holiness, his peace, his wisdom, his creativity, and everything else that he imparts on those who want to bathe in his glory. When we glorify God, we are reflecting back to him this same glory. How much of this glory is illuminating your life?

After describing the exchange of glory between Father and Son, Jesus imparts to his disciples the highest wisdom of the universe: The key to successfully joining Jesus in the glory of God is to love as he loves.

Love is not love unless it unselfishly gives itself to others. Jesus unselfishly gave himself to us completely, even in death. Followers of Jesus are not true followers, disciples are not true disciples, priests are not true priests, lay leaders are not true leaders, unless they serve with love, in love, and through love.

The glory of God is love that gives itself completely, even sacrificially. Why does the Gospel reading give us a scene from the Passion of Christ while we’re celebrating the season of Easter? The other readings are full of Easter: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5a). And yet here is Jesus preparing for betrayal, torture, and death. Why?

This Gospel reading is Jesus imparting to us today the key to continuing the mission of sharing God’s glory, which Jesus began and now calls us to do. By loving one another in a spirit of sacrifice, we are showing the world that Jesus is real, he is risen, and he is alive in us.

© 2016 by Terry A. Modica

Saint Cyril of Alexandria

Little is known for certain of Cyril’s early life. He was born c. 376, in the small town of Didouseya, Egypt, modern-day El-Mahalla El-Kubra. A few years after his birth, his maternal uncle Theophilus rose to the powerful position of Patriarch of Alexandria. His mother remained close to her brother and under his guidance, Cyril was well educated. His writings show his knowledge of Christian writers of his day, including EusebiusOrigenDidymus the Blind, and writers of the Church of Alexandria. He received the formal Christian education standard for his day: he studied grammar from age twelve to fourteen (390–392), rhetoric and humanities from fifteen to twenty (393–397) and finally theology and biblical studies (398–402).

Recognized as a great teacher of the Church, Cyril began his career as archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt, with impulsive, often violent, actions. He pillaged and closed the churches of the Novatian heretics—who required those who denied the faith to be re-baptized—participated in the deposing of Saint John Chrysostom, and confiscated Jewish property, expelling the Jews from Alexandria in retaliation for their attacks on Christians.

Cyril’s importance for theology and Church history lies in his championing the cause of orthodoxy against the heresy of Nestorius, who taught that in Christ there were two persons, one human and one divine.

The controversy centered around the two natures in Christ. Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, would not agree to the title “Theotokos” or “God-bearer” for Mary. He preferred “Christ-bearer,” saying there are two distinct persons in Christ—divine and human—joined only by a moral union. According to Nestorius, Mary was not the mother of God but only of the man Christ, whose humanity was only a temple of God. Nestorianism implied that the humanity of Christ was a mere disguise.Read More »