When you gather to pray a group of Christians of different denominations, it is easy to find out who is (or was) Catholic. Instead of meditating fully on prayer and addressing God the Father, the Catholic uses his hand to draw a cross on his body or on his forehead.
But why? Is it some sort of superstitious ritual?
Let's start by looking into the story behind this gesture.
According to writings dating back to the third century, Christians have been making this sign of the cross on their body since the beginning. The Christian apologist Tertullian wrote at that time that "we Christians have a worn-out brow with the sign of the cross."
Then he added: "In all our journeys and movements, in all our outings and arrivals, when we put our shoes, when taking a bath, at the table, when lighting our candles, when we lie down, when we sit, in any of the tasks in which We occupy ourselves, we mark our fronts with the sign of the cross. "
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, who lived in the fourth century, noted in his Catechesis:"Let us not be ashamed, then, of confessing the Crucified One. Let the cross be our seal, boldly made with our fingers on our forehead and in all; On the bread we eat and the glasses we drink, on our comings and goings; Before bed, when we go to bed and when we wake up; When we are traveling and when we are at rest.
It is believed that this early tradition of marking the sign of the cross was inspired by a passage from the book of Ezekiel, where it says: "And the Lord said to him," Pass through the city through Jerusalem and mark a cross in the In front of the men who moan and weep for all the abominations that are committed in the midst of it "(Ezekiel 9: 4).
In some translations, the passage says "mark with a T [or a Tau] on the forehead". The Tau is a letter of the Greek alphabet that is written like a T, so the first Christians saw in her the sign of the cross. They considered the sign of the cross to distinguish them and "mark" them as a chosen people belonging to the one true God.
The sign of the cross that Catholics do before praying or doing any activity should not be a superstitious act, but an outward manifestation of faith.
According to the Baltimore Catechism, "the sign of the cross is a profession of faith in the principal mysteries of our religion because it expresses the mysteries of the Oneness and Trinity of God and of the Incarnation and death of our Lord. ; Expresses the mystery of the Incarnation by reminding us that the Son of God, after becoming a man, suffered death on the cross. "
The Catechism of the Catholic Church adds: "The Christian begins his journey, his prayers and his actions with the sign of the cross, 'in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen'. The baptized consecrate the day to the glory of God and invoke the grace of the Lord that allows him to act in the Spirit as the son of the Father. The sign of the cross strengthens us in temptations and difficulties "(2157).
The cross is at the very center of our faith, so to be saved is supposed to be a constant reminder of the price Jesus paid for our sins. It is both a manifestation of faith and a simple prayer of great power.
According to St. John Chrysostom, the demons flee from where they see the sign of the cross and fear it "as a staff with which they are being slaughtered."
In short, the sign of the cross is a simple gesture with ancient and biblical roots. Although it may seem that some Catholics are crossing themselves with superstition, the intention to cross was never superstitious. It is a reminder of the profound sacrifice of Jesus two thousand years ago and is an active call to His intervention to help us in our need.https://es.aleteia.org/2017/04/17/por-que-los-catolicos-se-hacen-la-senal-de-la-cruz-antes-de-rezar/?utm_campaign=NL_es&utm_source=daily_newsletter&utm_medium=mail&utm_content=NL_es