The Church is truly an incredible institution. Seen from a worldly point of view, it began as a small group of Jewish fishermen and peasants, who taught a new religion two thousand years ago. The new creed spread rapidly, and from a few thousand people it grew into the national religion of the Roman Empire a few hundred years later. But this was not just a new wave of religion that came and went, like so many others. This Church kept teaching exactly what it had taught from the beginning for two thousand years, and its doctrines held firm under incredibly fierce persecutions, wars, heresies, and schisms. Attacks from the inside and outside which would have utterly destroyed any other institution came and went, but the Church remained intact.

Those of the world cannot explain this phenomenon, they can only avoid acknowledging it or insult it. Those within the Church, however, know that the only reason that the Church has lasted so long and remained so long unchanged is because she was founded by God Himself, and God has promised that it shall last until the end of time. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. God instituted her that He might continue his work of salvation in the world. He does this by giving us the graces necessary for salvation, such as those which we receive through the Sacraments. But the Church also makes use of other powerful prayers to assist souls in fighting to attain their final goal, the Kingdom of Heaven.

Indeed, the Church fulfils her most important function when she provides means of grace to the faithful. She preserves and makes constant use of those great Sacraments and sacramentals which have been given to her over time, showing them to us and exhorting us to make use of them. In her wisdom, she most frequently uses those prayers which are the most powerful and efficacious. Thus we see the propagation of the Rosary, the Brown Scapular, and other devotions. As we have already seen, one of the greatest and oldest devotions is the Sign of the Cross. Even a quick and simple glimpse into her most basic and essential rites will clearly reveal how highly the Church regards it.

As the Church guides a Catholic throughout his life, she constantly holds the Sign of the Cross in front of him as a light and guide. From a man’s Baptism until he receives Extreme Unction, she repeatedly uses this powerful prayer to help sanctify and defend him. Every sacrament makes use of the Sign of the Cross. Churches, altars, and all sacred objects and places are consecrated with the Sign of the Cross. Christ, in the person of the priest, uses this prayer in the most marvelous event on earth, the Sacrifice of the Mass. In fact, the priest even makes the Sign of the Cross with the actual Body and Blood of Christ. The Church “has not, for a single instant, ceased to employ it. She commences, continues, and finishes everything by this Sign. Among all her practices, the Sign of the Cross is the principal, the most ordinary, the most familiar. It is the soul of her exorcisms, prayers, and benedictions” (Gaume 28).

Can any doubt that this prayer is one of the most powerful prayers in history, if the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, uses it so frequently? Clearly, it is regarded by God Himself as extremely beneficial for our salvation. Then why do we ourselves not use it more frequently? It is certain that those who unite themselves to the Church by praying the Sign of the Cross will by doing so greatly sanctify themselves and will be a good, Christian influence on those around them. United with the Church, those who make the Sign of the Cross frequently and piously will truly bring honor to God and His Blessed Mother in Heaven.

Works Cited

Gaume, Monsignor Jean-Joseph. The Sign of the Cross. The Desert Will Flower Press, 2007