Saturday 26 November 2016

The Sign of the Cross - Francis de Sales

The Sign of the Cross:
The Fifteen Most Powerful Words in the English Language
Francis de Sales
Christopher Blum (Translator)
Sophia Institute Press
ISBN 9781933184975

This is one of a few books by Saint Fraincis de Sales from Sophia Institute that I picked up a few years ago. It is my loss that I waiting to get around to reading them. For this book was an incredible little read.  In chapter one Francis de Sales defines the sign of the cross as: "The Sign of the Cross is a Christian ceremony that represents the Passion of our Lord by tracing the shape of the Cross with a simple motion." And later he states: "When making the Sign of the Cross, therefore, we confess three great mysteries: the Trinity, the Passion, and the remission of sins, by which we are moved from the left, the hand of the curse, to the right, the hand of blessing." But he also draws from earlier Christian writers: "St. Jerome, writing to his spiritual daughter, said: "With every work, with all of your comings and goings, may your hand make the Sign of the Cross." St. Ephraim said: "Whether you sleep or wake, travel or work, eat or drink, sail on the sea or cross a river, cover yourself with this breastplate, clothe and encircle your limbs with the saving sign, and evils will not meet you."" And so Saint Francis draws from his own research and gives us numerous examples of the importance of this devotion from numerous other saints.

This book packs a lot of information in such a small volume. The chapters in this book are:
What Is the Sign of the Cross?
A Public Profession of Faith
The Use of the Sign of the Cross in the Church of the Fathers
The Legitimate Use of Ceremonies of Benediction
The Sign of the Cross in Blessings
The Sign of the Cross in Consecrations and Sacramental Blessings
Why the Sign of the Cross Is Made on the Forehead
The Testimony of the Prophet Ezekiel
A Reproof to the Antichrist
A Defense against Demons
The Power of the Sign of the Cross
St. Francis de Sales

This is maybe one of the simplest Catholic devotions, and yet after reading this book also maybe one of the most important. One of the quotes in this book that hit me most was, "The Sign of the Cross, then, is nothing other than a brief and lively exterior prayer by which God is invoked, and, as a result, it is proper for all of our doings and plans." This book was an amazing read but when combined with another title from Sophia Institute it even more so. Just before reading this book I read Holy Water and its Significance for Catholics by Henry Theiler. After reading that book I got a number of bottles for keeping Holy Water in the house, especially for my children. Especially my son who was having problems going to sleep. Now we often make the sign of the cross with Holy Water. I do it over my children before they go to bed, they bless me before we pray at bed time. I now often see my son going and making the sign of the cross with Holy water, often throughout the day. When he is becoming frustrated, angry or upset then he will go and grab the Holy Water and make the sign of the cross as he blesses himself. I cannot think of a better way to deal with struggles in day to day life. And thank Sophia Institute for these amazing books that has brought this all together for me and my children.

An amazing book that I cannot recommend enough!

(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Books by Saint Francis de Sales:
Introduction to the Devout Life
The Sign of the Cross
The Art of Loving God
Roses Among Thorns
Finding God's Will for You

Sermons of St. Francis de Sales:
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Prayer
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Our Lady
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Lent
Sermons of St. Francis de Sales for Advent and Christmas

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