October 2015 Letter
Few days ago we celebrated the feast of the Holy Cross. Our church teaches us from childhood to make the sign of the cross and the importance of making this sign continuously. Let us review some of the valuable benefits of the sign of the cross as described by H.H. Pope Shenouda:
- The human being is not only spirit or mind, but also has physical senses. Not all people are of the same spiritual level; some need to see the cross and feel it. Maybe the mind doesn’t remember the cross except when seeing it visually to remember all the spiritual and theological meanings related to the cross and the Crucified. Thus we worship the Lord by the spirit, mind and body, and each of them strengthens the other.
- When we make the sign of the cross we say: “in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, and we confess each time our belief of the Holy Trinity who is One God. Thus the Holy Trinity is continuously in our mind, this is not experienced by those who don’t make the sign of the cross.
- Also in the sign of the cross we declare the dogmas of incarnation and salvation: when making the cross from above down and left to right, we remember that God came down from heaven to our earth, transferring people from left to right, from darkness to light and from death to life.
- By making the sign of the cross we proclaim the death of our Lord as He commanded us. For His commandment was to proclaim His death for our salvation till He comes (1 Co 10: 26), and by making the sign of the cross we always remember His death until He comes.
- In the sign of the cross we remember God’s love to us. We remember that the cross is a sacrifice of love: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3: 16).
- The sign of the cross gives us power. Paul feels the power of the cross and thus says: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Co 1: 18). Notice he didn’t say that the action of the cross is the power of God, but only “the message of the cross”. Therefore by making the sign of the cross we are filled by power because we remember that the Lord by His cross has trampled over death, offering life to all people as he defeated Satan.
- Therefore we make the sign of the cross because Satan fears it. Whenever Satan sees the cross he’s frightened, remembering his great defeat and thus escapes in shame.
Asking you to remember the whole church in your prayers, and may the blessings of St. Mary, St. Mercurius and the blessings of the Holy Cross be with us always.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, October 1, 2015