Over the last several weeks in this segment of the bulletin we have been looking at the Mass in its overall meaning. What we will now proceed to do is to go through the Mass looking at its individual parts and their interconnection with each other.
At the beginning of Mass – as is the case with all of our liturgies – we make the Sign of the Cross. This simple gesture is one of the most common and deep indications of our belonging to Christ.
At the beginning of the celebration of Baptism, the celebrant signs the cross on the child’s forehead, saying: “I claim you for Christ by the sign of his cross”. Parents and godparents and other members of the community of faith also sign the child with a cross on the forehead; by its means we are initially claimed for Christ and by Christ, so that we become one of his people.
This gesture was also used in early times of the Church as a parental blessing, that is a blessing which parents gave to their children. That could continue to be a lovely custom to be used between parents and children today.
We continue to mark ourselves with the cross throughout our lives both in the liturgy and outside of it. It is often a spontaneous gesture which we use at times when we want to express our trust in God.
Not only ourselves, but all of the things that we want to mark as clearly Christian we mark with the Cross: our buildings, our offices, our parish facilities, articles that we use in the liturgy et cetera. Similarly, anything we bless is blessed with the Sign of the Cross.
The Cross is a shorthand way of saying Christian or belonging to Christ.
So we begin our liturgy with the Sign of the Cross. Having done that we know we are in business. It is the way we begin things. We begin the Mass with this sign of the mystery we are about to celebrate – the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection.
By Fr Frank O’Loughlin