Routine is the enemy of mystery, especially when it comes to God. While it is important to set time aside daily for God, it can easily fall into a routine habit that we check off as completed. However, if during our scheduled time with God we sit in wonder and awe, there may be a surprise that awaits us. Recently my reflection on the Sign of the Cross took me deeper than I ever expected.
While Catholics begin and end every prayer session with the Sign of the Cross, it is truly a prayer, prayed in both word and deed. It is through both action and voice that we enter deeper into the mystery of God. We do all things through this sign.
As we begin “In the name of the Father…,” we touch the top of our head. It’s not just mimicking where we would start if we are drawing a cross on paper, but rather an indication that He is above and beyond all else there is. It is also a reminder to ourselves to keep Him ever in mind, present to us at every moment in the day.
From the top of the head we bring our hand down to touch our heart as we say, …“and of the Son… .” That gesture speaks of a Love so grand, it came down from Heaven to Earth, to dwell amongst us in our humanity. Yes, Jesus has a beating heart just like all of us. He took on flesh for us and He shed His most precious Blood for us on the cross. Allowing the centurion to pierce through his side, both His Blood and water flowed from His Body, a one-time act that forever lives on in the love and mercy that flow from His Divine Heart.
As we say, “… and of the Holy Spirit,” we touch first our left shoulder and then the right shoulder. The gesture of touching shoulder to shoulder reminds us that we are never alone in this world, no matter where we find ourselves. The Holy Spirit’s reach is as wide as all of creation (yes, every single universe that is out there!). He hovers over all, between heaven and earth. This shoulder-to-shoulder touch is almost like a heavenly hug, embracing us and welcoming us into the mystery of God.
Lastly, we bring our hands together and say, “Amen.” This is our simple response to the amazing mystery that we just traveled through. This response means, “truly” or “so be it.” It is our assent that what we have declared and acted is true. For me the word is similar to “thank you,” since it means so much more at so many levels: intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, etc. I’m just glad that our response is scripted for us; after reflecting on the power of this prayer, I don’t think I would be able to find adequate words to complete the prayer.
We may never completely understand the Trinity, but if a simple, little prayer can speak volumes, how much more can we learn if we but open our heart, our minds, and our wills to God?