From the young St. Francis de Sales’s heroic efforts to bring Calvinists back to the Faith comes this succinct, eloquent defense of the age-old Catholic practice of making the Sign of the Cross, which sixteenth-century Calvinists denounced as a Popish invention and many Protestants scorn even today.
Embodying the zeal of youth and the wisdom of age, this gentle jewel of Catholic apologetics traces the origins of the Sign of the Cross back to the Fathers of the Church, to the Apostles before them, and finally to our Lord Himself.
Along with St. Francis’s other lucid explanations of our Catholic Faith and his undaunted love even for those who hated him, this modest book helped restore to their native Catholic faith tens of thousands of heretics who not long before were intent on killing him.
As they did for the Calvinists in St. Francis’s day, so in our day these pages will bring you a better understanding and a renewed love the Sign of the Cross, that brief and lively exterior prayer by which, from time immemorial, God has been invoked by serious Christians before all of their endeavors.
Among the other things you’ll learn here:
Outside the Creed itself, there are few topics to which the Fathers testify as universally and unanimously as the pious practice of making, frequently and well, the Sign of the Cross. With the help of these holy pages, the saints’ love for it will enkindle yours. Soon you’ll be saying with St. Jerome, “With every work, with all of my comings and goings, may my hand make the Sign of the Cross!”
“Saint Francis de Sales is the founder and master of modern Catholic apologetics, and in this little gem we see him at his very best.”
The Envoy Institute
“The Sign of the Cross explains why this simple gesture is an effective tool for spreading the faith, particularly in a culture, such as ours, that has forgotten its Christian roots.”
“St. Francis de Sales helps us appreciate the Sign of the Cross the way the early Christians did—as a sacred rite that forges our Christian identity and shapes our entire lives.”
The Augustine Institute
St. Francis de Sales' little treatise entitled The Sign of the Cross begins by explaining how to make the sign of the Cross. It may seem like a no-brainer at first, but I'd bet that very few Catholics know why we make the Sign of the Cross the way we do. To summarize St. Francis de Sales, we use our right hand, because it is "the more worthy of the two." With our right hand, we use either three fingers to represent the Trinity or five fingers to represent Jesus' five wounds. We begin the prayer by placing our right hand on our forehead to acknowledge that God the Father is the one from whom all things originate. Next, we move our hand down to our stomach as a sign that Jesus proceeded from the Father. Lastly, we cross ourselves from left shoulder to right shoulder to show that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son and that He is the bond of love between Father and Son. Let that information sink in, and reflect on it going forward each time you make the Sign of the C
Sophia Institute Press and translator Christopher Blum have done it again: Thanks to their collaboration we have another gem of a book.
From the informative and interesting Foreword by Christopher Check all the way through to the Biographical Note on St. Francis that ends the book, The Sign of the Cross is a primer not only on apologetics, but on prayer and Church history as well.
In Chapter One, I enjoyed St. Francis' explanation of how God and religion employ actions that are themselves indifferent ("How many times is such a motion made by weavers, painters, tailors, and others, whom nobody honors or troubles for it?") and by the use of such actions make them "noble, useful, and holy, and henceforth capable of earning their daily wage." I especially profited from the ending of this chapter, where St. Francis gives a wonderful summary of the symbolism and meaning of the Sign of the Cross, which summary increased my devotion and awareness of this small but powerful action.
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