For many years, I thought of the Sign of the Cross as something I said before and after my prayers, but never considered it a prayer by itself. After all, Mass starts and ends with it, but it’s what is between the start and end that counts, right? When we declare, “In the name…,” it’s like we are saying that everything that will happen or has just happened is to be claimed by God. Here you go, God. I’m giving You this time of prayer, letting You know what I’m giving You by making this declaration before and after my prayers. Usually it was accompanied with a rather sloppy waving of my hand to my head before dropping it down to my chest for a quick wave that started at one shoulder and just pointed to the other.
“In the name of the Father,” we declare ourselves to be His children. Jesus told us to call God our Father. While God is our Lord and Master, it is not how He wants to be known. He wants us to know Him as a father; one who provides for our needs and comes to our aid.
“…and of the Son…,” we acknowledge that we believe Jesus to be the Son of God. He is not just some nice guy that said cool things and turned water into wine for the party. As children of God (since we call Him, Father), then calling Jesus His Son makes Jesus our brother. It makes Him family.
“…and of the Holy Spirit…” we name the Love that exists between the Father and Son. In the Trinity of God exists this third person. In John 14:16, Jesus speaks of sending the Advocate or Counselor to be the Spirit of truth for the apostles. It is this Spirit that descends upon them in tongues of fire, prompting them to proclaim the gospel. It’s the same Spirit we receive in baptism and confirmation, not only marking us for Christ, but giving us our mission to be the Church of God on earth.
“…Amen.” The term ‘amen’ means ‘so be it’ or ‘truly.’ But St. Paul puts it best when he says, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why we utter the Amen through Him, to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 1:20)
In this short prayer, we claim our relationship with God as a member of the family and our belief in the mystery of the Trinity. This weighty little prayer deserves as much concentration and intention as anything that follows in between.