Monday, January 15, 2007

Sacred Signs by Romano Guardini: The Sign of the Cross

As I stated in my introductory post on this topic, I would like to introduce you to the writings of Romano Guardini as seen in the book, Sacred Signs written in 1956. All of this is still applicable today, if not moreso. In an era of indifference, we need to stop and reflect on such things and enlighten others as to how these things can be seen as holy. Some are obvious, some are not.

I am skipping the Translator's Preface, and the book's Introduction, which you can read at the EWTN library: Sacred Signs.

People bow their heads and cross themselves as they are blessed by Fr. Eduard Perrone following Mass on Guadete Sunday 2006

from "Sacred Signs" by Romano Guardini, C 1956
via the EWTN online Library

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.

It does so because it is the Sign of the universe and the sign of
our redemption. On the cross Christ redeemed mankind. By the
cross he sanctifies man to the last shred and fibre of his being.
We make the sign of the cross before we pray to collect and
compose ourselves and to fix our minds and hearts and wills upon
God. We make it when we finish praying in order that we may hold
fast the gift we have received from God. In temptations we sign
ourselves to be strengthened; in dangers, to be protected. The
cross is signed upon us in blessings in order that the fulness of
God's life may flow into the soul and fructify and sanctify us

Think of these things when you make the sign of the cross. It is
the holiest of all signs. Make a large cross, taking time,
thinking what you do. 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.

I would like to follow-up with an additional comment on the Sign of the Cross. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) tells us:

275. A bow signifies reverence and honor shown to the persons themselves or to the signs that represent them. There are two kinds of bows: a bow of the head and a bow of the body.

1. A bow of the head is made when the three Divine Persons are named together and at the names of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of the Saint in whose honor Mass is being celebrated.

This bow of the head should take place any time the three Divine Person's are named together whether in the Mass or not. Many will bow their heads at the beginning of the Gloria Patri when praying a Rosary, for example, even though this is not part of the Mass. Some are also aware enough to bow during sacred songs when the three Divine Person's are named. This was foreign to me until I came to Assumption Grotto where it is common.

I made a photo post on GIRM 275 previously if you would like to learn more.

Sacred Signs by Romano Guardini: Introductory Blogpost
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