Thursday, January 2, 2014

21 Things We Do at The Sign of The Cross‏

We have been privileged to be allowed to post this really wonderful piece on "The Sign Of The Cross" by Stephen Beale at Catholic Exchange and we are proud to add Catholic Exchange to our Blog Family.  We were so impressed by this article that we felt it should go as far as we could help it go.  Please enjoy the reading and let the author know how much you liked it by visiting his Site and leaving him a comment.  While there, you might want to read other articles he has written.  May God Bless you all for the New Year.

Jesus Is Lord!
Tim M

21 Things We Do When We Make 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Recall the Incarnation. Our movement is downward, from our foreheads to our chest “because Christ descended from the heavens to the earth,” Pope Innocent III wrote in his instructions on making the Sign of the Cross. Holding two fingers together—either the thumb with the ring finger or with index finger—also represents the two natures of Christ.
6. Remember the Passion of Our Lord. Fundamentally, in tracing out the outlines of a cross on ourselves, we are remembering Christ’s crucifixion. This remembrance is deepened if we keep our right hand open, using all five fingers to make the sign—corresponding to the Five Wounds of Christ.
7. Affirm the Trinity. In invoking the name of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, we are affirming our belief in a triune God. This is also reinforced by using three fingers to make the sign, according to Pope Innocent III.
8. Focus our prayer on God. One of the temptations in prayer is to address it to God as we conceive of Him—the man upstairs, our buddy, a sort of cosmic genie, etc. When this happens, our prayer becomes more about us than an encounter with the living God. The Sign of the Cross immediately focuses us on the true God, according to Ghezzi: “When we invoke the Trinity, we fix our attention on the God who made us, not on the God we have made. We fling our images aside and address our prayers to God as he has revealed himself to be: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
9. Affirm the procession of Son and Spirit. In first lifting our hand to our forehead we recall that the Father is the first person the Trinity. In lowering our hand we “express that the Son proceeds from the Father.” And, in ending with the Holy Spirit, we signify that the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, according to Francis de Sales.
10. Confess our faith. In affirming our belief in the Incarnation, the crucifixion, and the Trinity, we are making a sort of mini-confession of faith in words and gestures, proclaiming the core truths of the creed.
11. Invoke the power of God’s name. In Scripture, God’s name carries power. In Philippians 2:10, St. Paul tells us that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” And, in John 14:13-14, Jesus Himself said, “And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”
12. Crucify ourselves with Christ. Whoever wishes to follow Christ “must deny himself” and “take up his cross” as Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 16:24. “I have been crucified with Christ,” St. Paul writes in Galatians 2:19. “Proclaiming the sign of the cross proclaims our yes to this condition of discipleship,” Ghezzi writes.
13. Ask for support in our suffering. In crossing our shoulders we ask God “to support us—to shoulder us—in our suffering,” Ghezzi writes.
14. Reaffirm our baptism. In using the same words with which we were baptized, the Sign of the Cross is a “summing up and re-acceptance of our baptism,” according to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
15. Reverse the curse. The Sign of the Cross recalls the forgiveness of sins and the reversal of the Fall by passing “from the left side of the curse to the right of blessing,” according to de Sales. The movement from left to right also signifies our future passage from present misery to future glory just as Christ “crossed over from death to life and from Hades to Paradise,” Pope Innocent II wrote.
16. Remake ourselves in Christ’s image. In Colossians 3, St. Paul uses the image of clothing to describe how our sinful natures are transformed in Christ. We are to take off the old self and put on the self “which is being renewed … in the image of its creator,” Paul tells us. The Church Fathers saw a connection between this verse and the stripping of Christ on the cross, “teaching that stripping off our old nature in baptism and putting on a new one was a participation in Christ’s stripping at his crucifixion,” Ghezzi writes. He concludes that we can view the Sign of the Cross as “our way of participating in Christ’s stripping at the Crucifixion and his being clothed in glory at his resurrection.” Thus, in making the Sign of the Cross, we are radically identifying ourselves with the entirety of the crucifixion event—not just those parts of it we can accept or that our palatable to our sensibilities.
17. Mark ourselves for Christ. In ancient Greek, the word for sign was sphragis, which was also a mark of ownership, according to Ghezzi. “For example, a shepherd marked his sheep as his property with a brand that he called a sphragis,” Ghezzi writes. In making the Sign of the Cross, we mark ourselves as belong to Christ, our true shepherd.
18. Soldier on for Christ. The sphragis was also the term for a general’s name that would be tattooed on his soldiers, according to Ghezzi. This too is an apt metaphor for the Christian life: while we can be compared to sheep in the sense of following Christ as our shepherd we are not called to be sheepish. We instead are called to be soldiers of Christ. As St. Paul wrote in Ephesians 6, “Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. … take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
19. Ward off the devil. The Sign of the Cross is one of the very weapons we use in that battle with the devil. As one medieval preacher named Aelfric declared, “A man may wave about wonderfully with his hands without creating any blessing unless he make the sign of the cross. But, if he do, the fiend will soon be frightened on account of the victorious token.” In another statement, attributed to St. John Chrysostom, demons are said to “fly away” at the Sign of the Cross “dreading it as a staff that they are beaten with.” (Source: Catholic Encyclopedia.)
20. Seal ourselves in the Spirit. In the New Testament, the word sphragis, mentioned above, is also sometimes translated as seal, as in 2 Corinthians 1:22, where St. Paul writes that, “the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment.” In making the Sign of the Cross, we are once again sealing ourselves in the Spirit, invoking His powerful intervention in our lives.
21. Witness to others. As a gesture often made in public, the Sign of the Cross is a simple way to witness our faith to others. “Let us not then be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the Cross our seal made with boldness by our fingers on our brow, and on everything; over the bread we eat, and the cups we drink; in our comings in, and goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we rise up; when we are in the way, and when we are still,” wrote St. Cyril of Jerusalem.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Impossible Reform of Catholic Universities---Part 2

Little did we know that this post would generate the comments it did, but because they are profound and also directly affect a previous School excoriated, we felt it necessary to publish the comments as a Post rather than a comment.  More people can read it this way and see just how bad the University of Dayton has become.  We have lots on this so-called "Catholic school" (Here) as it happens to be my Alma Mater, much to my dismay.  It used to be really Catholic. My hat's off to this person...seems I'm not the only one totally offended by Anti-Catholic Rhetoric and from a "Marian" University.  You folks better watch out...Mary might just get mad. 

Here are the comments.  Please let us know what you think. The Writer of these comments has forwarded us the entire text of the correspondence she received from U of Dayton.  She has called herself Mrs. Catholic, so we shall honor her request and print it as same. 

Jesus Is Lord!
Tim M

(Mrs. Catholic) Reform must happen...I'll probably be dead before it happens, unfortunately. Last year I was in disbelief when I saw that the U. of Dayton had presented a play called Bare. I caught sight of it online and did a quick check on it. What I watched made me ill. I immediately sent an email to the President of the University asking how this horrible choice of productions was made during Lent. He gave my response to another...which I have copied here along with my response back to him.

Dear Mrs. Catholic,

Dr. Curran asked me to respond to your note of concern about a theatre production on campus.

I appreciate how deeply you care about the University of Dayton.  I want to assure you that the University of Dayton's theatre program engaged in a great deal of thought and conversation before scheduling "bare."

The mission of a Catholic university is to engage people around difficult questions of faith and culture. Some students in Catholic high schools do struggle with their faith and homosexuality. As a university, we welcome dialogue on difficult issues like this. We scheduled two discussions with cast and audiences after the performances to talk about the issues the musical raises in light of Catholic teachings.

In the theatre department's judgment, the musical does not present an argument that homosexuality is normative or that the church's moral teachings are flawed. The production explores students' experiences of conflict and confusion, both within and among themselves. Like most works of art, it seeks to prompt reflection rather than to present answers.

Like all Catholic universities, we follow the call of the U.S. Catholic bishops in the document, Always Our Children: A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers:

Respect for the God-given dignity of all persons means the recognition of human rights and responsibilities. The teachings of the Church make it clear that the fundamental human rights of homosexual persons must be defended and that all of us must strive to eliminate any forms of injustice, oppression, or violence against them (cf. The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1986, no. 10).
It is not sufficient only to avoid unjust discrimination.  Homosexual persons "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358).

It was the hope of our theatre department that the musical would contribute to the discussion of the acceptance of all people; it did not intend to denigrate the church's teachings.

Again, thank you for your thoughtful letter.


My response...

Dear Dr. Saliba,

Thank you for responding to my concerns.  It is unfortunate that your response is quite inadequate.  Personally, I would like the names and titles of those who initiated Bare, those who engaged in a great deal of thought and conversation.  I would like to know if those same persons are faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and I would not hasten to add that it is doubtful that they are for this production is not art.

Which brings me to your comment, " most works of art..."  I ask you if both you and Dr. Curran were completely aware of the contents of Bare prior to "bringing" it to you University?  It would not qualify as mocks the Bride of Christ.  This link may help you to understand art vs. the perverted teachings presented in this program.  If this link does not work, I have tried to attach a copy of the document.

You also stated:
"The mission of a Catholic university is to engage people around difficult questions of faith and culture. Some students in Catholic high schools do struggle with their faith and homosexuality. As a university, we welcome dialogue on difficult issues like this."
I would wholeheartedly agree with your mission and welcoming difficult dialogues; however, as a Catholic University, I would hope that your mission is to lead all students and staff to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  Bare does not lead to God, but rather mocks Him.  Did you watch it in its entirety?  You defend this?

Finally, you have selected as few words from the USCCB site as suited your left out most of the important and virtuous aspects of what our Bishops have stated.  How dare you Sir!  Or, perhaps you overlooked these...

The Church seeks to enable every person to live out the universal call to holiness. Persons with a(n) homosexual inclination ought to receive every aid and encouragement to embrace this call personally and fully. This will unavoidably involve much struggle and self-mastery, for following Jesus always means following the way of the Cross.... The Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance are essential sources of consolation and aid on this path.

The Necessity for Training in Virtue
There is another kind of “therapy” or healing of which we all stand in need, regardless of whether one is attracted to the same or the opposite sex: Every person needs training in the virtues. To acquire a virtue—to become temperate, brave, just, or prudent—we must repeatedly perform acts that embody that virtue, acts that we accomplish with the help of the Holy Spirit and with the guidance and encouragement of our teachers in virtue. In our society, chastity is a particular virtue that requires special effort. All people, whether married or single, are called to chaste living. Chaste living overcomes disordered human desires such as lust and results in the expression of one’s sexual desires in harmony with God’s will. “Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.”18
It is sad to note that in our society violation of chastity and the pervasive human suffering and unhappiness that follow in its wake are not uncommon. Many families experience firsthand the human devastation that results when marriage vows are broken, or the human heartbreak that can lie in the wake of sexual promiscuity. Chaste living is an affirmation of all that is human, and is the will of God. It is we who suffer when we violate the dictates of our own human nature.
The acquisition of virtues requires a sustained effort and repeated actions. As the ancient philosophers recognized, the more one repeats good actions, the more one’s passions (such as love, anger, and fear) become shaped in accord with good action. It becomes easier to perform good actions.
I need not quote the entire beauty of the Catholic Church's teaching...but the perverted program of Bare in no way will affirm chaste living, virtue, nor growth in holiness.
I am saddened to hear that a College claiming to be Roman Catholic would promote such opposition to our Sacraments, our Lord and His Bride.  I will pray for those souls who were exposed to such lies--shame on all of those who approved Bare--I will also pray for them as well.  I will not be recommending the University of Dayton to anyone seeking a Roman Catholic College.

In His Service,

All I can say is...WOW and let it go at that!
Jesus Is Lord!