Friday, November 30, 2012

Devotion for today: we begin with the sign

Having looked at the Mass as a whole, we now begin to look at each part. We start this great prayer as we do all prayers, with the sign of the cross.

Scriptures for meditation: Ezekiel 9:3-4
 Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case. The Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: 2157: The Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the sign of the cross: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” The baptized person dedicates the day to the glory of God and calls on the Savior’s grace which lets him act as a child of the Father. The sign of the cross strengthens us in temptations and difficulties.

 Edward Sri explains: While signing ourselves, we call on God’s name, saying, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy spirit.” In scripture, to call on the name of the Lord denotes worship and is often associated with prayer and sacrifice. It is an ancient practice found among the earliest followers of the Lord. Adam’s son Seth and his descendants are described as calling on the name of the Lord when he is erecting altars to God and consecrating the land promised to him (Gen 12:8, see 21-33). His son Isaac calls on the Lord’s name when he builds an altar at Beersheba (Gn 26-25). In Scripture, a name is not merely a conventional way of referring to a particular person. A name mysteriously represents the essence of a person and carries the power of that person. Therefore, to call upon God’s name is to invoke his presence and his power. This is why the ancient Israelites frequently called upon the name of the Lord, not only to praise him (Ps 148:13) and thank him (Ps 80:18, 105:1), but also to seek his help in their lives (Ps 54:1; 124:8)… This sheds much light on the Sign of the Cross at Mass. At the start of the liturgy, we invite God into our lives in a powerful way. We solemnly call on his name, invoking his divine presence and power. It is as if we are consecrating the next hour or so of our lives to the Lord and saying that everything we do in the Mass, we do in his name. All that we do – our thoughts, desires, prayers, and actions – we do not do on our own, but “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Moreover, like the Israelites of old who invoked the divine name as they worshiped the Lord, we reverently call on God’s name, asking for his help as we prepare to enter into the sacred mysteries of the Mass. (A Biblical Walk through the Mass, Ascension Press, 2010)
 Not my thoughts today, but that of Roman Guardini:
When we cross ourselves, let it be with a real sign of the cross. Instead of a small cramped gesture that gives no notion of its meaning, let us make a large unhurried sign, from forehead to breast, from shoulder to shoulder, consciously feeling how it includes the whole of us, our thoughts, our attitudes, our body and soul, every part of us at once, how it consecrates and sanctifies us…Make a large cross, taking time, thinking about what you do. Let it take in your whole being – body, soul, mind, will, thoughts, feelings, your doing and your 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. (Roman Guardini, Sacred Signs, Pio Decimo Press, 1954)
Prayer: Protect me, Lord, as I mark myself with the sign of the Cross. Know me as your faithful follower, a seeker of your will. Seal me with the sign of your power and might, and let me be a visible sign to the world of your love and grace. I ask this in the name of Jesus, the Lord. Amen (Sandy Bertini)

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