Signing the Cross

As a part of my journey into deeper catholicity, I have begun to sign the cross in worship. I had a pivotal conversation a few months ago about this with a close and knowledgeable friend, which I have been thinking much about.

In addition to it being ancient tradition, there are many theological reasons why we make the sign of the cross on our bodies at certain times during the liturgy, but I want to focus on one in particular: the participatory nature of the Christian life.

Christian theology teaches that humanity’s ultimate end is participation in the triune God of Scripture. Ultimately, this refers to Thomas’ mysterious beatific vision on the last day, in the new heavens and the new earth. And yet we begin to participate in God in this life as well, bringing the eschaton into the now.

Like the eucharistic liturgical actions performed by the priest, to make the sign of the cross on one’s body is a symbolic movement through time and in this sense it consecrates time. It is symbolically to say to God and to others not just “I want my life to be marked by the cross,” but also “My body, which is a living sacrifice, and which will be raised on the last day, and which represents the totality of my life / being, is destined for full oneness with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

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